Jim Hartman: A ‘red wave’ cresting in November

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

With five months to the 2022 midterm elections, it’s now increasingly clear that a Republican ‘red wave’ is cresting throughout the country.
On May 26, the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, a highly accurate nonpartisan handicapping service, recategorized 10 House race ratings to favor Republicans and adjusted its predictions for GOP gains in November upward to between 20 and 35 seats.
The Cook Political Report now has 35 Democratic seats in its “toss-up” category or worse. It has only 10 Republican seats in those same positions.
Those findings are consistent with assessments from other respected political handicapping firms.
The Inside Elections newsletter lists 21 Democratic seats in its “toss-up” categories or worse, while Republicans have just nine seats in similar jeopardy.
Those predictions are grounded on several historical trends confirmed over decades.
First, the midterms tend to be bad for the president’s party. Since World War II, the average seat loss for a president’s party in the midterms is 26.
That trend is exacerbated when the president is unpopular – as defined by having an approval rating under 50%.
Biden’s approval rating is a dismal 40.7% (most recent RCP poll average) and is now lower than Trump’s. He’s not been higher than 43% approval since August 2021.
Democrats lost 64 House seats in 2010 at President Obama’s first midterm election. Republicans lost 41 seats in 2018 at midterm for President Trump.
The second predictor in midterm elections is the so-called generic ballot question. The generic ballot tends to marginally favor Democrats in a neutral political year. A recent Quinnipiac national poll showed Republicans with a four-point generic ballot advantage.
The reality – things appear to be getting worse for Democrats as the November election approaches. A red wave washing away even incumbents previously considered safe now seems realistic.
The midterm will be a referendum on Biden’s job performance.
In November, Biden turns 80 and a majority of Americans (54%) think he “lacks the mental sharpness to be president,” according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll last February.
Biden has always been a “gaffe machine.”
But his staff has been required recently to do rhetorical cleanups on critical issues, including: allowing a Russian “minor incursion” in Ukraine; the presence of U.S. troops in Ukraine; our response to Russian use of chemical weapons; Putin’s remaining in power in Russia; and, our coming to the military defense of Taiwan.
Biden aides had to walk back his comments by “clarifying” his remarks.
Amid a rolling series of calamities the Biden administration looks flat-footed or incompetent:
• The disgraceful Afghanistan withdrawal in August 2021 was a fiasco and a grave blow to America’s standing in the world, yet Biden still won’t take responsibility for the debacle.
• America faces a historic crisis at the southern border. Under Biden’s immigration policies, illegal crossings have soared to record highs without any plan to control the border.
• The highest inflation rate in 40 years was fueled by Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that former Democratic treasury secretary Larry Summers warned was too big and would overheat the economy. Obama’s chief economist Steve Rattner said the bill will “go down in history as an extraordinary policy mistake.”
• Rapidly escalating gas prices reached $5.53 a gallon in Nevada (June 7) more than doubling since Biden took office. Food prices are also soaring.
 And, a managerial breakdown over a baby formula shortage. Months of inattention with Biden’s nominee to head the FDA, Dr. Robert Califf, telling Congress the agency was “sluggish” and made “suboptimal” decisions as parents hunted for formula on empty store shelves.
Supply chain problems, a rise in COVID cases, gun violence/mass shootings, Ukraine – Biden is in a downward spiral.
As a result, look for a White House staff shake up after the midterms. Prediction: Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, will depart.
Email Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.

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