Harry Enten, formerly of FiveThirtyEight and now with CNN, finds that the political environment is moving toward the Republicans. That’s not news, but Enten tries to quantify the movement.
His starting point is that Connecticut state senate race I wrote about here. In that contest, a Republican won a special election in a district that Joe Biden carried by more than 20 points in 2020.
That race is an outlier, though. According to Enten:
Across more than 30 special state legislative and federal elections during the Biden presidency, Republicans are doing 4 points better on average than former President Donald Trump did in these same districts last year.
Enten notes that Trump lost nationally by 4 points. Thus, “a 4-point swing toward Republicans suggests a neutral national environment.” However, “this would likely be enough for Republicans to take back the US House of Representatives, especially considering that they are in a good position for redistricting.”
But the trend is even more threatening for Democrats:
When you look at the first 17 special elections this year (through early April), the Republican overperformance over Trump was just a point. Examining the last 17 special elections, the overperformance has been 7 points. When you splice the data even further, Republicans have been outperforming the 2020 baseline by double-digits since the beginning of July.
Enten notes, correctly, that “things may shift back to [the] Democrats.” However, it’s my understanding that that all of these last 17 elections occurred before the fiasco in Afghanistan became manifest. If anything, then, the next movement should be away from the Dems.
Quite apart from the situation in Afghanistan, history suggests that Republicans will continue significantly to outperform Donald Trump. Enten says:
Back in 2009, there was a big movement away from Democrats in special elections toward the middle of the year. This foretold Republicans doing very well in the 2010 midterms. . . .
[F]our years ago at this point. . .Democrats were outperforming Hillary Clinton’s performance by 14 points in the average special state legislative and federal elections. Democrats went on to take back House control in 2018.
It’s important to note that the shift we’re seeing across these metrics now is what we normally expect in the lead up to a midterm election. The president’s party almost always loses ground in midterm elections.
Perhaps the ultimate takeaway from this data is that we’re more likely to experience a normal outcome in 2022 than something unique.
The Democrats have no ground they can afford to lose in the Senate and virtually none in the House. So even a normal outcome next year would be devastating for them.
You might think that a few of the endangered Dems would try to save themselves by refusing to go along with Biden’s hard-left, nation-transforming spending agenda, and some are making noises as if they might. But in the end, I believe they will go along with it and hope for the best, even if the best turns out to be a good job post-2022.