As November approaches, a distinct and coordinated attempt by the media to paint Democrats as resurgent has occurred. If you pay attention to the election analysts, Dobbs has completely changed the game, making Joe Biden’s party a heavy favorite to keep the Senate and putting the House in play.
How much of that is based on anything empirical? The answer is not much. Yes, the generic ballot tightened in early August, but the Democrats quickly lost their lead, with Republicans gaining about two points from mid-August onward. Still, a closer environment doesn’t mean one that the GOP is set to lose in, and that’s become lost on far too many people.
Then there’s the issue of senate polls being notoriously biased toward Democrats over the last four cycles.
Some important polling simulations here:
If you believe Senate polls today have no national bias toward the Democrats, then they are ~80% to hold the majority (based only on polls, not fundamentals)
If you think polls will be as biased as in 2020, they are slight underdogs
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) August 30, 2022
Still, despite all the dooming from even some Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, that the election is being blown by “bad candidates,” hope has emerged in Georgia. Emerson released its first survey of the state this cycle, and it’s very good news for Herschel Walker.
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) August 30, 2022
I’m kind of stuck here because I do believe senate polling is pretty much garbage, as shown by the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 cycles. Still, given that the bias has almost exclusively tilted towards Democrats over the years, any poll showing a Republican in the lead in a toss-up race can only be good news for the GOP.
Walker, for all the questioning of him as a candidate, has settled in and found his groove. He’s likable, a legend in the Peach State, and he’s connecting with people. Is he the most well-spoken Republican to ever grace a senatorial race? No, but given Democrats are running a guy in Pennsylvania that can barely speak, I think the criticisms of Walker are overblown. He’s distinctively Southern in his approach, and that might not play well in the beltway, but Georgia isn’t located in the beltway.
Emerson’s poll also found that the GOP is leading by five points on the generic ballot in Georgia. That’s more good news given it is technically a blue state, and a data point that contradicts the “Democrat comeback” narrative still being aggressively pushed.
For my money, until these pollsters show me they don’t have a systemic bias toward Democrats, something illustrated several cycles in a row, I’m not going to believe they’ve fixed their methodology. So while Emerson’s poll is nice to see, I was bullish on the GOP’s chances even before it dropped. To put it simply, the idea that Democrats are heavy favorites to take the Senate relies completely on the assertion that there will be zero polling misses this cycle. Why would anyone expect that given their recent history?