Friday, August 05, 2022

My 2022 Senate Predictions, Updated

Since April, I've been saying that the Republicans weren't in very good shape to take control of the US Senate.

The polls seem to be catching up with my assessment.

Good news for the Republicans first: In Missouri, disgraced former governor Eric Greitens lost Tuesday's GOP primary to attorney general Erich Schmitt. while Democrats nominated a not-very-energizing heiress instead of a hard-charging populist Marine for the seat. If both -- maybe even either -- of those primaries had gone the other way, Missouri might actually be in play, at least to the extent of Republicans having to pour lots of money into the state to protect a formerly "safe" seat -- money that could have been spent elsewhere shoring up GOP prospects.

Bad news for Republicans in "leans Republican" territory: In Ohio, Democrat Tim Ryan continues to lead Trump-endorsed Republican JD Vance ... and not just by a little. This week's polling has Ryan up by 10-11%. I wouldn't call the seat "leans Democrat" just yet, but unless the GOP redirects a crap ton of money to pull Vance's fat out of the fire (and unless Vance actually starts campaigning instead of just e.g. doing photo opps in Israel), it's looking pretty damn iffy.

Now, to the "toss-up" states. At present, Republicans hold two of them (Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), Democrats hold three (Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada), and Republicans must win three of those elections (in addition to holding all of their "safe" and "lean" seats) to get to 51 in the Senate.

Arizona: I never really thought it was much of a "toss-up," but now it's far into the "leans Democrat" range. As in Ohio, the Republicans nominated a Trumpy McTrumpkin, Blake Masters, leaving incumbent Mark Kelly in good shape (at the moment, up by 5%, and likely to open that lead way up) to hold the seat.

Georgia: Well, it's still pretty close, and I'm still not going to try to predict it. All the recent polling that isn't specifically sponsored by one of the candidates' support organizations has incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock up by 3-5% over Republican challenger Herschel Walker. And walker is a train wreck in various ways, from dribbling out admissions of "secret" children by various baby mamas to just generally stumbling under questioning (and he's agreed to a debate). But there are just too many variables -- Democratic "Get Out The Vote" efforts, versus Republican "Keep The Voters From Voting" efforts, two African-American candidates potentially breaking that demographic as a solid bloc, etc. I'd still call this one a "toss-up."

Nevada: Incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is polling (accounting for partisan pollster bias) slightly ahead of Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. On the one hand, "Laxalt" is a big name in Nevada (Laxalt's grandfather was a governor of, and US Senator from, the state, and he himself is the former state AG). On the other hand, three things have me rating this seat "leans slightly Democrat." One is the Dobbs ruling, which should drive Democratic turnout up by at least a little. Another is Cortez Masto's incumbency, which has her in good position to raise the funds, pack the events, etc. to win. And the third is that the Democratic vote is more urban (Vegas) than the Republican vote, making "Get Out The Vote" activities (rides to the polls, etc.) and media market focus easier.

Pennsylvania: No longer a "toss-up." Leans "hard Democrat," maybe even "safe Democrat." Most polling has lieutenant governor John Fetterman up 14-17% over GOP nominee (and, you guessed it, Trump pick) Mehmet Oz. Even specifically GOP polling has the margin at 6%, advantage Fetterman.

Wisconsin: I'm out on a limb here since the most recent polling is from June, before incumbent Republican Ron Johnson really got busted down over his role in the disgraced former president's attempts to steal the 2020 presidential election, and before the Dobbs ruling had a chance to get Democratic voters energized and "moderates" off the fence. But even then, before the Democratic field unified behind lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes,  Barnes was at least in strong contention with Johnson. If I took a guess now, I'd guess that Barnes is up on Johnson by at least 5% and likely closer to 10%. I mark this one "leans Democrat."

So: The Republicans need to win at least three of those five races to get a Senate majority, If I had to give each race a final pick at the moment, I'd say they willy be incredibly luck to win two (Georgia and maybe either Nevada or Wisconsin), face a strong possibility of winning only one (Georgia), and could conceivably lose all five ... with Ohio as the dark horse candidate for yet another defeat.

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