The upcoming congressional elections are less than two months away, and both parties are ramping up their campaign efforts as they get closer to the finish line. Earlier in the year, Republicans anticipated the possibility of a red wave in which the party would sweep the House and Senate in a national repudiation of Democratic policies. After the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the polling gap narrowed to the point that many on the right became concerned about their chances of retaking either chamber. Nevertheless, a recent report suggests that Republicans are still in an advantageous situation, as long as they do not find a way to snatch defeat from the proverbial jaws of victory.
What’s in Store for the Congressional Elections
While the Democrats have made a quasi-comeback in the polls, data coming from the Cook Political Report shows Republicans remain in a favorable place for November. Democrats currently have the edge in the House of Representatives with a 221-212 advantage. The GOP has only to pick up six seats to retake control of the lower chamber, meaning it could be difficult for the Democratic Party to maintain its position.
The Cook Report rated 162 House seats as firmly Democratic and 26 as “likely” or leaning Democratic. Moreover, it categorized 23 lower chamber races as “tossups,” meaning either party could win. Only eight Republican-held seats are categorized as “tossups,” and three of these favor the Democratic candidate. The GOP is likely to flip 12 seats from Democrats, which means the party could gain nine positions.
Even if the left wins each tossup race in which their candidate is the incumbent, the GOP will still retake the House. In fact, Republicans hold at least a slight advantage in nine races for Democrat-held seats that are categorized as “tossups.” For Democrats to win, they would have to successfully defend these districts while flipping those that Republicans already hold, which is not a likely scenario.
What About the Senate?
Currently, the Senate is split 50/50, but in the event of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote, giving her party a slight edge. This means the GOP only needs to pick up one seat to retake control of the upper chamber. However, this won’t be as easy as it might seem.
The GOP is defending 21 of the 35 seats up for election this year. This includes five held by retiring Republicans. Three of these are in competitive states, which include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Ohio. According to the Cook Report, Pennsylvania is the only state that has leaned blue. The race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman has tightened in the past few weeks, with the Republican candidate now only trailing by four points, a marked difference from eight points last month.
But Georgia is also on people’s minds when looking at possible outcomes in the Senate. In 2020, the GOP lost both its seats to Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Two years later, NFL legend Herschel Walker is running to unseat Warnock, and Cook has labeled this race a tossup. Both candidates are in a statistical dead heat, and it could go either way.
Wisconsin is another one to watch, with Republican Ron Johnson leading his opponent, Democrat Mandela Barnes, by four points. The Democratic candidate found himself in the lead after winning his primary race, but Johnson appears to have pulled ahead for the moment.
How Will Governor’s Races Shake Out?
Governor’s races have received more attention over the past few years, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and how different states responded to the coronavirus. Even now, Republican governors are making national news as they take stronger stances against the Biden administration. Today, Democrats occupy 23 governorships while the Republicans have 27. However, the Cook Report shows that four positions held by the former are tossups while only one GOP-held seat is competitive.
The race in Arizona between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs has received national focus. The activist media has been particularly antagonistic toward Lake due to her stance on the 2020 presidential election and Trump-like approach to politics. Polling shows that the Arizona election is quite close; the latest RealClearPolitics average has Lake ahead by only one point. Right now, it’s any woman’s race.
The overall landscape looks favorable for the GOP when it comes to governorships across the nation.
What About the Issues?
Abortion became a major issue in the upcoming races after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. But is it enough to place the odds in the Democrats’ favor? Most of the research conducted recently says “no.”
The results of a Pew Research poll published last month revealed that, while abortion is a priority for voters, it still comes behind the economy, gun policy, crime, health care, voting policies, education, and Supreme Court appointments in terms of importance. That the issue could decide the outcomes of the congressional elections does not seem to be a plausible theory.
Additionally, history favors the GOP. Typically, the opposite party from the one occupying the White House ends up winning control of at least one chamber of Congress. Of course, this could change if Democrats manage to concoct an “October surprise” that shifts the game. But that seems a long shot at this point.