If you are a Republican who pays attention to elections and spends time on social media, it’s been a fun week. I say that from personal experience as data point after data point has rolled in pointing to building GOP momentum with the mid-terms approaching.
My colleague Joe Cunningham recently reported on the latest mainstream poll showing Republicans with a staggering four-point lead on the generic ballot. That followed a series of other positive results in days prior that now have the aggregate up to GOP +2.2.
All the while, Democrats have clung to one assertion: It’s going to be different this time.
I feel like another Blue Wave’s comin!
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) October 17, 2022
About 8% of Republicans voted Dem in 2018, TargetSmart CEO @tbonier told me. If that rises to 15% this year, he added, “the GOP has no chance of taking back either the Senate or the House." Polls suggest that's quite achievable. https://t.co/lgnVls8Hkw @usatoday @usatodayopinion
— Jill Lawrence (@JillDLawrence) September 18, 2022
Never mind the fundamentals that strongly favor the GOP, from primary turnout to presidential disapproval. And we should just forget about the dire economic conditions and the fact that a new president’s first mid-term is typically disastrous. No, what Americans truly care about is abortion, abortion, and more abortion. As the story goes, Dobbs changed everything.
Except it didn’t, and now we are at the point where Democrats are outright dismissing the very same polls they were touting just a month ago.
Pelosi on polls showing GOP gains:
Pelosi: "The NYT poll is an outlier poll, you just cite one poll, all the other polls have a different-"
Andrea Mitchell: "It’s also the Real Clear Politics average"
Pelosi: "It was an outlier. It wasn’t that big a sample. So I dismiss that." pic.twitter.com/gIrns7sSLj
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) October 18, 2022
Amidst the cope, though, I think the reality of the situation is starting to set in: It’s not going to be different this time.
Just like every first mid-term in modern history, excluding 2002 which was heavily influenced by the 9/11 attacks, this one is also going to see the in-power party getting shellacked. The cry-bagging is already beginning as Democrats fret that Americans just don’t care more about killing babies until birth than the cost of gas.
People are really saying “I can live with reduced rights for women and minorities, and the fear of sending my kid to school where they may be shot to death… but I can’t live with $3 gas”
— billy pilgrim (@BillyPillgrm) October 17, 2022
Look, some of us tried to offer a polite warning that this is how things were going to go. Back in the summer, I did analysis after analysis showing that pre-October polling is historically garbage and should not be used to build overarching narratives that Democrats have saved themselves.
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) October 17, 2022
The other aspect of this is knowing how to read the topline results of a poll. For example, if you saw Mark Kelly up on Blake Masters 45 to 43 percent, how would you read that? Someone who has never observed a mid-term before might think that’s a good result for Kelly. But it’s not because no incumbent ever wants to be mired in the mid-40s, and given the propensity for undecideds to break hard for the out-of-power party, a poll showing a close race with both candidates in the mid-40s actually favors the non-incumbent.
But you can see how Democrats could so easily delude themselves into thinking a historically awful environment for them is actually a toss-up. Besides, I should know given I was sucked into such during the 2018 election. If there’s anyone that should understand that first-term mid-terms are bad for incumbent presidents, it should be Republicans. Even with a gangbusters economy, Democrats still were able to experience a wave election.
Now, ask yourself, what about this year looks like it should be better for the in-power party than 2018? The answer is absolutely nothing, and that’s the cold-hard reality that Democrats are slowly coming to grips with as election day approaches, and you can see it in their diminishing optimism. “Dark Brandon” is not a magic man who can brush away the fundamentals of an electoral environment. It’s not going to be different this time.