Can Republicans win a wave election this November as frequently happens in midterm contests?
When the GOP ran against President Bill Clinton's high-tax, big-spend record in his first two years on the job, the party picked up eight Senate seats and 52 House seats in 1994.
The elections marked the first time Republicans controlled the Senate since 1985 and the House since 1955. The result: Clinton moved sharply to the right on domestic politics, ditching big-government programs and embracing Reaganomics.
The GOP lost 40 House seats in the 2018 midterm when President Donald Trump was in the White House, hinting at the Democrat presidential victory just two years later. The consensus among seasoned pollsters today is the GOP will capture the House by a small margin but fail in its attempt to win the Senate. In other words, no wave election.
But a major GOP victory this November is still not out of the question.
Surveys show the electorate seems more dismayed by the President Joe Biden economy than any of the issues Democrats are raising. Moreover, Biden's historically low ratings are a clear drag on the Democrat ticket nationwide.
When asked in the mid-September ABC News/Washington Post poll to choose their most important issue, 61% of voters had the same concerns as Republicans: The economy, inflation and crime. Only 35% of the electorate sided with the Democrats' top issues: abortion and climate change.
Swing voters, as GOP guru Karl Rove noted, are not siding with the Democrats either. In a recent New York Times survey, 54% of independents claimed the "most important" issues for them were economic, while only 27% chose abortion, guns, or democracy — topics foremost on the lips of the president and major Democrat candidates.
What also gives Republicans hope is a little noted survey of their party's chances in Georgia by The Atlantic Journal-Constitution, which had a history of lining up with Democrat presidential nominees before it dropped endorsing candidates altogether in 2020.
The paper's findings were a bitter blow to Democrat power players in the Peach State — especially to Stacey Abrams whose Herculean effort to register likely Democrat voters was considered key to the victory of both the state's Democrat senators in 2020 and Biden's 12,000-vote squeaker over Trump.
Abrams had been signing up Democrat voters in such prodigious numbers that Republican experts on voting patterns voiced alarm she was likely to single-handedly deal another devastating loss to the GOP in November.
The AJC's Greg Bluestein then delivered the stunningly bad news to buoyant Georgia Democrats with the headline: "GOP leads in most races, poll finds. Close Senate race one of the only bright spots for Georgia Dems in Survey."
But even that Senate race showed former football star and Republican nominee Herschel Walker defeating radical incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., a man with ex-wife problems and a fan of Fidel Castro, 46% to 44%. (The poll was taken before the abortion accusations against Walker.) Republican nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state had double-digit leads over their Democrat challengers.
GOP Gov. Brian Kemp led Abrams in her second attempt to win the governor's mansion 50% to 42%, enough to avoid a runoff in December if that number holds. Abrams' chances were hardly helped when Judge Steven Jones essentially threw out her complaint she lost her first run against Kemp because she alleged Georgia's election laws violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.
Jones, an Obama appointee, specifically said they violated neither.
Here is some other bad news Bluestein served up for the Democrats:
- A majority of likely Georgia voters (54%) favor Kemp's handling of his job.
- 51% want the Republicans to win control of Congress.
- Another 71% say the country is on the wrong track, a measuring stick that normally spells deep trouble for the president's party.
- Just 37% approve of Biden's performance in office, "statistically unchanged since the last AJC poll in July," and one of the first public polls in Georgia since Biden began winning congressional approval of such programs as forgiving student college debt.
Bluestein then added this crushing conclusion: "With less than 50 days until the election, there's little time to reverse the trend."
What is also striking is the Republican leader in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is no longer a pessimist about winning back the majority. At a private fundraiser for J.D. Vance, the GOP Senate nominee from Ohio, McConnell said he expected his party to hold on in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, then naming Nevada and Georgia as the best pick-up opportunities.
The New York Times' Oct. 4 edition more than backed McConnell's view about Nevada.
Nevada Democrats, the Times wrote, are bracing for severe losses "up and down the ballot," a seismic shift "that could help Republicans win both houses of Congress." The Times then piled on: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., "remains one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country."
Gov. Steve Sisolak "is fighting his most formidable challenger yet [Adam Laxalt], who Rove says "led in all five September [RealClear Politics] polls."] And the state's three House Democrats "could all lose their seats." The Democrat machine that thrived under the late Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Times added, "is staring down the most significant spate of losses in more than a decade."
The major reason: "Worries over inflation and the economy overshadow nearly every other concern, particularly for the working class and Latino voters the party has long ago counted on."
Latinos still favor the Democrats nationwide, but Republicans are making major inroads. A Siena survey, writes Rich Lowry in the New York Post, shows Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Republicans running for reelection in Florida, are "above 50% among Hispanics."
Hillary Clinton carried the Hispanic American community in Miami-Dade County by 30 points, Biden by only 7.
Surveys of Hispanics, especially of those who are here legally, are appalled by Biden's open-door policy to illegals at the border. Rep. Myra Flores, R-Texas, the first Hispanic in 150 years to represent the 34th Congressional District in the Rio Grande Valley, has called for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for failing to control the border. Fifty-two percent of Hispanic likely voters, according to two new Rasmussen polls, are doing "too little to reduce illegal border crossings."
Whether the Republicans will win big Nov. 8 is far from certain. And how badly the Walker bombshell might harm the entire GOP ticket in Georgia is, as of this moment, unknown.
But the good news is Republicans need to capture a net of just six seats in the House for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
And it will take just a net pickup of just one to get a majority in the Senate.
Rove is fairly comfortable about claiming the GOP is likely to win the House. Here is what he says about the Senate: "My gut tells me the GOP will prevail 51-49 because of the political climate, issues, and midterm swing."
Still, he hedges his bet by observing that key races are still up in the air and the next few weeks "will be rocky and Nov. 8 a long night."
Allan H. Ryskind, a former editor and owner of "Human Events," a favorite publication of Ronald Reagan, is the author of "Hollywood Traitors," a history of how Stalinist screenwriters came close to capturing the movie industry.
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