Midweek Midterm Election Update - May 25th, 2022
Bottom Line: Since the advent of the current two-party system (40 midterm elections) we've averaged the President's party losing 4 Senate seats and 30 seats in the House in midterm election cycles. If that were to happen this cycle, Republicans would retake control of both chambers of Congress. Republicans need only flip one Senate seat and 5 seats in the House to gain complete control of Congress entering next year. History is solidly on the side of Republicans reclaiming control of at least the House going into this cycle.
There are only three times that the incumbent President's party has gained seats (1934 during FDR's first term, 1998 during Bill Clinton's second term and 2002 during George W. Bush's first term) thus only 3 out of 40 midterm elections have resulted in the President's party gaining seats. Here's another way of looking at it... History suggests there's a 93% chance Republicans will gain Congressional seats this cycle. The question is how many? That's where it's helpful to look at the history of generic ballot polls and outcomes.
As of today, the generic ballot says (average of accredited polling over the past week)
- Current: GOP: +2%
That’s a 12-point swing over four years ago at this stage in the most recent midterm election cycle. The huge shift in the mood of the country is reflected in Democrat retirements. 33 Congressional Democrats have already announced their retirements – including two surprises in Florida. Stephanie Murphy and Ted Deutch. That’s the 2nd highest total from one political party in one cycle in American history. The average number of Democrats to retire in a cycle has been 14. The all-time record is 35 in 1992. That raises the stakes of the conversation from one in which we may be talking about Republicans being positioned to gain control of Congress, into one where perhaps a historic number of seats might be in play to be flipped this cycle.
The red wave of 2010 resulted in a record 69 Congressional seats flipping from Democrats to Republicans. If history is to be challenged this cycle – that one is the comp. As we’re about six months away from November’s elections the best temperature check is the mood of the country as reflected on the questions as to our view of the direction of the country and generic ballot. What does the survey say...
On May 25th of 2010:
On May 25th of 2022:
- Direction of the Country: 24% (-1% over last week)
- Generic Ballot: GOP +2% (-2% over last week)
The country is 11% more disapproving with the direction of the country today, as compared to the history making cycle 12 years ago and Republicans are holding a 2% greater advantage on the generic ballot as they did on the same date in that cycle. Yes, there's a long way to go. Yes, the current conditions remain conducive for history in the making this fall.