Since the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency, the red tide has been rising. Tomorrow, it will arrive on land.
Democrats are more deserving than any of the GOP’s wonderful achievements. They have led the invasion of our southern border and the destruction of communities by drugs and crime. Sometimes winning is just not being the other guy. There was certainly an iota in Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Six years later, six years after this unlikely, but nonetheless welcome victory the Republican party has been rebuilt in former president’s style and substance. This is not your grandfather’s GOP that supports free trade and foreign wars under the banner compassionate conservatism. It’s the return to your great-grandfathers. It is a Republican Party that supports domestic industry and the working classes. It is a Republican Party that welcomes the chance to get into the culture war fray. It is less dogmatic, more actualpolitik, and more focused on ideas than on results. To the dismay and annoyance of the left and their NeverTrump tagalongs, they are still groaning about January 6, Mar-a–Lago documents and the overturning Roe. It’s a Republican Party that’s going win.
I don’t recall an election cycle in which Republicans have been so successful in the final month of the election. These breaks should have been provided by the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, and the Hillary email probe 2016 presidential cycles, but they didn’t due to the collusion between big tech, media and the administrative government. For the 2022 Midterm cycle, there has not been an October surprise of Hunter Biden-laptop size. It has been a series of small mistakes by the Biden administration, and its allies, that have accumulated in Republicans favor.
FiveThirtyEight’s Senate Election forecast showed Democrats with 2 to 1 odds of holding the upper chamber. The most likely outcome was that Democrats had 51 Senate seats, and Republicans 49 by January. The 2 to 1 odds of Democrats winning the Senate had disappeared by October 31. It was suddenly a 50-50 coin flip to determine who would win the Senate. A week later, the odds of Republicans winning control of the Senate were 55 to 100. FiveThirtyEight’s House prediction reflected the long-standing expectation based on historical precedent and voter trends in competitive areas (think: Rio Grande Valley turning red in 2020) that Republicans would regain the House. The House forecast on October 1 was the inverse of the Senate forecast–Republicans had 2 to 1 odds to recapture the lower chamber. Since then, the odds of a Republican capturing the lower chamber have increased to 83 per 100.
It was my decision to highlight some races that I wanted to pay attention to as the results roll in Tuesday night. You’re likely to be familiar with some of these candidates and the ballot items by reading American Conservative throughout this cycle. Others may not be as well-known.
Trump’s message led to significant electoral victories for Ohio in 2016 and 2020. This has set Ohio Republicans up well for long-term success. Now, author J.D. Vance is now poised to defeat Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan in the race to fill the vacant seat left by Senator Rob Portman. Vance swept past a crowded primary field despite some initial struggles. This was due to strong debate performances, an America First agenda which was truly working class (rather that the same old Republican slogans supposedly designed for the working-class like Josh Mandel and others), as well as Trump’s endorsement. Vance continues to build momentum after his primary win and is expected to defeat Ryan by five point or more. Vance will have the advantage of being on a ballot with Mike DeWine, the current Republican Governor 15 to 20% ahead of Nan Whaley, the Democratic challenger.
Herschel Walker is a University of Georgia football star and Republican senator candidate in Georgia. He will also be able to appear on the ballot alongside Brian Kemp, who is a popular governor. Kemp is expected to win his reelection bid by 8 points. He will be facing Stacey Abrams who is a denier. Walker, who is known for his gaffes and scandals, is polling just under a half-percent better than Warnock. He must hope that Kemp’s Tuesday performance will give him a significant boost to get over the threshold of 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Walker won’t be able to crack 50 percent if he doesn’t win the runoff against Warnock on December 6. It must happen Tuesday if Republicans are to regain a Georgia Senate seat.
Arizona GOP senator Blake Masters and Mark Kelly are locked in a close race with each other. RealClear Politics polling shows Kelly ahead by 1 point. FiveThirtyEight model sees Kelly keeping that seat 66 of 100 simulations. Masters’ polling numbers have risen from 43.3 percent and 47.2 percent in the past two weeks. Kelly’s polling numbers also improved over the same time period, rising from 45.8 percent up to 48.2 percent. Kelly’s 2.5-point lead has shrunk to one because it failed to keep up with Masters’ rise. Masters’ ace in the hole is Kari Lake, an ex-phoenix television anchor who became a Republican gubernatorial hopeful. She’s charismatic, eloquent, defiant, authentic. With gleeful ease, she regularly embarrasses the left-wing media. She’s been playing this game for over three decades. RealClear Polic holds Lake’s lead by just under two points. FiveThirtyEight estimates Lake has a nearly 2-to-1 chance of winning. If someone pulls the lever to support a firebrand such as Lake, they will likely not hesitate to do so for Masters, who is a firebrand of his own. Show me the Lake Kelly voter and I’ll show a unicorn.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate to succeed outgoing Republican Senator Pat Toomey, won’t have the benefit of being paired with a strong governor. Doug Mastriano was propelled to the gubernatorial primaries with strong grassroots support but has completely failed to transform that grassroots momentum into an actual political operation. Mastriano will most likely lose. His democratic opponent Josh Shaprio holds a greater than 10 point lead in the polls. Many Pennsylvania Republicans will also suffer these consequences.
Oz will also be hurt by Mastriano. Mastriano was not a great candidate for Pennsylvania. Two big things give Oz a chance to win, which was almost impossible for Republicans a few months back. First, he is going up against John Fetterman, the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Fetterman has not been the same since a stroke six months ago. His speech and cognitive abilities clearly have been affected, as one would expect. Fetterman is a man I feel compassion for. The Democratic party is pushing Fetterman to abuse his position. Second, Oz has all the momentum. The second is that Oz has all the momentum. Even after Fetterman’s stroke, but not on the campaign trail, it looked like the Pennsylvania senatorial race was going to be a bloodbath for Oz. Fetterman was almost 9 points ahead. The public is less confident in Fetterman’s ability to serve Pennsylvanians in Washington, not because of his health issues, but because of Fetterman’s outrageous open-borders and soft-on-crime anti-American energy agenda. Fetterman’s lead in the polls is now gone.
Adam Laxalt, a Nevada Democratic Senator, is poised to challenge Catherine Cortez Masto. Laxalt defeated Masto in mid-September in the RealClear Politics polling average . Since then, he has built a nearly 3 point lead. If Laxalt wins it will be the first time this particular seat has been held by a Republican since 1987 when Harry Reid took over the vacant seat from Paul Laxalt (Adam’s grandfather).
If Republicans have a better night than they expected, if Walker and Oz are performing well, it might be worth staying up until the early hours on the east coast to check if Republicans can take a seat from Democrats in Washington. Tiffany Smiley, the GOP senate candidate, is only 3 points behind incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.
Although the Washington senate race is close, it’s almost certain that Republicans will not unseat Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon. The race for the Beaver state’s gubernatorial seat is unlikely to be close. Tina Kotek, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee is locked in a close battle with Christine Drazan, the Republican candidate. Kotek’s lead of four points on September 1 has fallen to just point. FiveThirtyEight had given her 70-30 odds to win the seat at the time. The odds favor Kotek now are 55-45.
Despite this, the polling in the Pacific Northwest tends to favor Republicans. Even though things appear to be trending in Republican’s favor, the GOP might not win the above mentioned upsets in the Pacific Northwest. It is still remarkable to think of Oregon’s governorship race. This is a state that hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1982, and has not had a Republican come within 2 points since Dudley against Kitzhaber 2010. TAC-aligned observers of American politics will be watching the win of Joe Kent in Washington’s third congressional district.
Republicans were hopeful of winning the Michigan gubernatorial election, in which incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer faces Republican challenger Tudor Dixon. Whitmer still holds a strong 4 point lead in RealClear Politics average polling. Proposition 3 is perhaps even more important than Michigan’s gubernatorial races. If Prop 3 is passed, it would make abortion legal under Michigan’s constitution. Michigan’s current sentiment is that Prop 3 will be passed, which would be tragically and shamefully for Michiganders.
Kentuckians will be voting on almost the exact opposite question posed to Michiganders–passing Amendment 2 in Kentucky would make it explicit that the state constitution does not protect the right to kill an unborn child. The pro-life movement is expected to win, but Kansas had similar expectations earlier this year when the red state decided to support abortion rights. California and Vermont will be looking to strengthen their pro-abortion systems with ballot measures on Tuesday.
Even if the cause for life wins in Kentucky, some expected setbacks and all but certain setbacks at California and Vermont should be cause for concern for the conservative movement and its legal strategists. Are America’s states that ban abortion completely but allow abortion until the point of birth more just than an America with no abortion bans in any other state? Can an America that is so divided over this issue even be united? Perhaps the right to kill unborn children is not something that should be left up to democracy at both the federal and state levels. Justice Alito might have said that the constitution prohibited mass killing of unborn children.
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It’s been a high-risk election cycle for Republicans who have always smelled blood in their water. These risks seemed to be unsustainable at times. Not that long ago, many Washington discussions about the midterms were premised on winning the House and losing the Senate. Many of us believed that this was a good thing because the Republican conferences in both houses would be able to move in meaningful and important ways. There was always more. TAC editor-at large Daniel McCarthy noticed something in the tea leaves, which was not surprising. He recently wrote a guest essay in the New York Times.
In 2022, the Republican Party has embraced Trump’s approach to politics and doubled down. The Republican Party’s U.S. Senate candidates in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz and Herschel Walker, are both celebrities with no political experience. Kari Lake, a former Phoenix news anchor, is the Republican nominee for governor. But the Republican Party’s acceptance of candidates who seem to be high-risk is a sign that they have confidence and not weakness. Voters feel enough strongly about the party’s populist, pro Trump positioning that they have voted for them over less experienced and more controversial candidates.
This is the moment when midterm voters have something new and fresh to choose from, while old party identities and norms and institutions seem weak and ineffective.
McCarthy is correct. McCarthy is right. There was always the possibility that these high-risk Republican candidates wouldn’t pan out. The Republican Party has the opportunity to elect high-risk candidates who can make lasting changes to its vision. This cycle is the perfect time, as all the fundamentals are against it. While candidates that seemed risky investments a few months back seem less risky now, Republicans seem poised for high returns tomorrow.