Midterms ’22: No Red Wave Coming, But GOP Could Still Win Big

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Tuesday’s Midterms are approaching. A sketch of what to expect is beginning to form, though many variables remain open and impossible to determine. A mere 3-5% margin of error in polls could make the difference between a Republican landslide and a disappointing finish.

Nobody doubts that the GOP has all the momentum right now. Many GOP candidates have recalibrated their messaging in the last month, focusing on conventional and unconventional issues that nevertheless speak to wide swaths of the electorate.

Until recently, Republicans were on track for a disappointing performance. Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, Republican strategists decided to center maximalist bans on abortion in their national platform, which led to a catastrophic defeat in a referendum on the topic in red, rural and religious Kansas (+15 for Trump in 2020), as well as the shock defeat of household name Sarah Palin in the Alaska (+10 Trump) special election.

The post-Trump Republican Party has attempted to reconcile diverging tendencies in its base by building a coalition that emphasizes the parts of their coalition that Pew Research has dubbed “Committed Conservatives” (low taxes, aggressive foreign policy; Reaganism) and “Faith and Flag Conservatives” (highly religious and linked to Q Anon style reverence for Donald Trump; the religious right), but together these only constitute 38% of the GOP’s traditional voting bloc.

A third group, the “Populist Right,” which is more secular, more likely to have previously voted for a Democrat, and holds steadfast to nationalist beliefs, such as support for government action against big business, military non-interventionism and staunch opposition to immigration, represents at least 23% of Republican voters. Until recently, this group — which lacks effective lobbies and donor support but has crossover potential with some Democrats and Independents — was being deliberately ignored.

When the party’s messaging and media apparatus (Fox News) sharpened its focus on winning issues such as law and order and immigration, as well as performative skepticism about sending more arms to the Ukraine, tackling partisanship and corruption at the FBI, and using Congress to tackle “woke capitalism,” the red team’s electoral prospects have reversed and polls have tightened overall, with data forecasting a decisive majority in the House as well as a very good chance of winning the Senate, though there is a lot of debate on just how big the majority in the latter will be.

Republicans are definite favorites, but this should not be conflated with a “red wave.” The coming election is painting to be an unpopularity contest between the Republicans and Democrats. The Unpopularity Contest is most visibly seen in races in New York (+23 Biden) and Washington (+20 Biden), where the GOP is doing very well, but also in states like Oklahoma (+33 Trump), where Republicans are struggling.

Compared to recent history, such as the 2010 Midterms (where the GOP picked up 63 House seats) or 2014 (where they won 24 of 36 Senate races, picking up nine seats), Republicans are still slated to underperform. Their saving grace could ultimately be low turnout among Democratic voters.

Here are some factors to watch out for.

Democrats Rant About “Defending Democracy” From White Terrorists As Voters Yawn 

Mainstream analysts on both sides of the aisle are claiming that the economy, inflation in particular, is the Democrats’ biggest weakness.

The Biden administration has done a decent job lowering gas prices by tapping into strategic reserves, a wise procrastinated effort just before the elections. The unemployment rate is very low at the moment, wages are going up, and the average American has savings in the bank. Federal reserve interest rate hikes are likely to cause a recession and wipe these working and middle class gains away, but this will not be fully felt until 2023.

The Biden administration’s student loan relief policy is also popular across the board, but as with their legislating reducing the price of prescription medication, they are failing to amplify their objective accomplishments. A conservative organization came close to blocking student loan relief from happening through a lawsuit, which would’ve hurt the Republicans at the ballot box, but Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected the petition last minute, thwarting a potentially advantageous issue for Democrats to rally voters around.

It seems that some gatekeepers on the left and right, including pollsters, want the election to be a referendum on a fleeting issue like inflation to prevent a reckoning on highly unpopular left-wing ideological crusades that are causing rampant black crime, non-white immigration, child transgenderism, anti-white discrimination, or even the Jewish community’s role in censoring free speech (Kanye West, Kyrie Irving, Elon Musk, etc). But as influential Democrats like Bill Maher have been warning, a conversation about the electorates hatred of the Democratic Party cannot happen without discussing its extremist cultural and racial positions.

The demonization of white Americans as domestic terrorists who seek to destroy Democracy is particularly falling flat in our majority white country. Exemplifying this is President Joe Biden’s recent follow up to his vitriolic rant referring to right-wing people and voters as “enemies of democracy” last September. In his newest rehash, he was even more threatening, but got far less media attention as no channel broadcasted the address. Even CNN has published critiques of Biden’s appeal to voters as out of touch and tone deaf.

Surveys show that while the electorate by and large thinks GOP candidates asking the public to vote for them so they can get into office to prevent Democrats from stealing the election from them is strange and goofy, they are equally disinterested in the Democratic Party’s attempts at ginning up a hysterical moral panic in response.

Things To Look Out For

Democrats are at a fundamental disadvantage in House races. The GOP has outmaneuvered Democrats in the gerrymandering process across the country, which they do by consciously redistricting maps by race to try and maximize the pool of white voters. This will enable especially big pickups in mammoths like Texas and Florida.

By contrast, more racially neutral committees in blue states like Maryland and New York have made tons of seats competitive due to lack of adequate gerrymandering maximizing the minority vote. The Democrats are in for some pain.

On the gubernatorial front, the biggest story of the 2022 Midterms is Republican candidate Lee Zeldin, who is running the strongest law and order campaign in the country in response to New York’s black crime problem.

He is overperforming against the weak post-Cuomo appointee Kathy Hochul and could potentially become the state’s first Republican Governor since George Pataki, who won in 1994 by also riding a wave of anger about black and “Latino” crime.

Zeldin’s potential for victory should be taken very seriously. Last year, incumbent Governor Phil Murphy only narrowly defeated Republican Jack Ciattarelli by a margin of three points, a massive drop compared to 2017 when Murphy beat the Republican by 14.

Hochul is campaigning in an even less favorable climate than Murphy was, so if New Jersey is a regional Bellwether, Zeldin — who enjoys great support from the Jewish community which funds Black Lives Matter but does not want crime in its own neighborhoods — is likely to either win or come very close.

In Georgia, Herschel Walker appears to hold a miniscule advantage over his Democratic opponent Raphael Warnock. Georgia, which is over 50% white, has two black candidates on offer.

The GOP is banking on the assumption that its white Southern voters’ love football enough to spur them to come out on Tuesday in sufficient numbers to send the unqualified and low IQ Walker to the Senate.

Peter Thiel’s experimental engagement with the electoral process, Blake Masters and JD Vance, are both performing differently. Vance appears to be running away with the race in Ohio, but Masters is struggling more in the traditionally Republican state of Arizona. Masters is facing a well-funded opponent who is running ads accusing the libertarian-adjacent candidate of seeking to privatize Medicare and Social Security. This message is a poison poll among all demographics, but particularly so in Arizona, where the over 65 voting population is very large. He has tried to mitigate the damage by swiftly backpedaling away from the issue, and his poll numbers have improved as of late.

MAGA 2.0 Candidates May Disappoint

The latest strategic evolution of the MAGA movement has been to quietly drift away from the Populist Right demographic that propelled Trump to victory in 2016. Today, MAGA has largely eschewed issues perceived, fairly or not, as white identitarian in exchange for deeper engagement in the Faith and Flag Conservative constituency. The shift has brought Trump and his affiliates success in the primary process, but its broader electoral viability is low.

Faith and Flag and ideological conservative voters, whose key interests as of late have been abortion, COVID-19 restrictions and vaccines, allegations of election fraud, and the personal well-being of Donald Trump (this is more so an interest of Faith and Flag voters) are important kingmakers in GOP primaries due to their enthusiastic engagement serving as the Republican Party’s activist grassroots. In the swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, they have surprised the Republican National Committee by jettisoning both Tudor Dixon and Doug Mastriano to the general.

Dixon has focused much of her campaign this year on making the race a referendum on Gretchen Whitmer’s Chinese style COVID restrictions, which was criticized by Republican media at the time it was happening for being among the strictest in the country.

But a survey last month found that 44% of Michigan voters will not be factoring Whitmer’s response to COVID in their vote at all. Comparatively, 25% said they were more likely to support Whitmer for her role in locking the state down while 33% answered that they were more likely to vote against her over the issue, suggesting that there are voters who somewhat care about the issue, but not enough to have it suck up all of the oxygen in a statewide race.

Abortion has also been front and center in Michigan, but the issue is not influencing most voters in either camp. To the extent voters care, Democrats are much more animated by it than Republicans.

In Pennsylvania, another MAGA figure, Doug Mastriano, is running a similar campaign against Josh Shapiro, who is outspending him 55-1 due to lack of support from the institutional Republican Party. This is a David versus Goliath match up.

Mastriano is operating an unorthodox campaign strategy, where he is avoiding interviews with Jewish controlled media seeking to mischaracterize and demonize him. A victory for Mastriano would represent a defeat of the Jewish press’ traditional function as political gatekeepers, which was brought down in 2016 but somewhat revived recently with the mass deplatforming and censorship campaign on social media. Mastriano has surpassed expectations considering the odds, but these expectations were low.

Like Dixon, Mastriano’s platform focuses on largely expired or unenforced COVID mandates, banning all abortions, and election fraud. On the other hand, the two purple state candidates have until very recently deemphasized issues such as violent black crime.

When seeking power over states that are home to Philadelphia and Detroit — two cities whose rates of violence make New York City look like Iceland — there is no rational explanation for why Dixon and Mastriano haven’t run campaigns emphasizing combating crime the whole time, as Lee Zeldin has successfully done.

One possible explanation for putting less weight on the crime issue is that MAGA 2.0 candidates feel very sensitive about being accused of racism. Mastriano has wasted much of his campaign’s time trying to debunk bad faith accusations that he is a racist or anti-Semite from Shapiro’s camp, and only very recently has finally gotten around to centering a law and order pitch.

Zeldin, who is Jewish, has on the other hand, been able to speak on the issue uninterrupted and unfettered, suggesting an ethnic double standard. While the Jewish community by and large supports the pro-crime policies causing the outbreak of black violence nationally, they have historically not supported it in their own population centers like New York City, where past Republican mayors like Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg got to implement racial profiling policing policies that law enforcement in “flyover country” would’ve immediately faced federal scrutiny and powerful litigation over.

There is still a possibility that Dixon and Mastriano can win, but their prospects are dwindling. In Pennsylvania, the potential for a split ticket electing Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat Josh Shapiro together is high, while Tudor Dixon’s slumping poll numbers appear insurmountable.

A poor showing by Mastriano and Dixon will reinvigorate GOP attempts to purge Trump and Trumpism — a task that began gaining traction after the victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia but was then thwarted by the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. MAGA grassroots failure will also breath new life into Ron DeSantis, who is also expected to do very well against his opponent in Florida. Jewish powerbrokers in the Republican Party see a 2024 DeSantis presidential run as the key to combating white populism disquieting them from inside the GOP’s base.

Black-Jewish Relations a Factor?

A Democrat can’t win a statewide race in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania if its black voting bloc does not turnout in sufficient numbers.

A question no analyst is asking at the moment is what impact will the high-profile Jewish versus black conflict over the suppression of influential black celebrities such as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving will have on black willingness to turnout for Democrats last names like Shapiro.

Opinion data on the current state of black and Jewish relations is non-existent, but black social media is teeming with blunt anger at the hypocrisy and draconian nature of Jewish power and its representatives such as the Anti-Defamation League, which is closely associated with the Democratic Party.

Republican figures have also gone through the motions of condemning Kanye West’s “anti-Semitism,” but have overall remained relatively quiet on the controversy compared to high profile white and Jewish liberals.