Drop an object out of the air with nothing under it and it will fall to the ground. Yes, sometimes gusts of wind can keep it in the air for a while, but eventually gravity comes into play.
Political gravity often works in very similar ways. Candidates and parties can challenge it for a while, but eventually they will come back to Earth.
That appears to be the way the 2022 midterms have been played in the House and Senate over the past few weeks, as Republicans have made progress with just over two weeks to go until Election Day.
Republicans now hold an average 2-point advantage in the general congressional vote. A month ago, Democrats had a one-point lead on the measure.
The shift in favor of Republicans essentially marks a return to where we were before the Supreme Court overturned Roe in the early summer. Wade in late June. At the time, Republicans had a 3-point lead.
It should come as no surprise that Democrats are lagging. President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s. The top issues for voters’ races are the economy and inflation, and Republicans have higher confidence in those issues in the polls, hitting double digits.
Abortion has been on the list of the most important issues facing America, and it has declined as Roy’s reversing further into the rearview mirror.
A 2-point lead on the general vote may be enough for Republicans to win the House. Based on history, that suggests a net gain around 15 to 25 seats, and they only need a net gain of 5 seats to flip the chamber.
Of course, the Senate can sometimes be another story. Only 35 seats are up for election, while the House of Representatives has 435. This means that while any good or bad candidate is unlikely to have much of an impact on House ratings, a good or bad candidate can have a big impact in the Senate.
Take a look at arguably the five most important races in the Senate: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Democrats will likely need to win three of the five races to maintain control of the Senate.
In early September, Democrats led by an average of 2 (Georgia) to 7 (Arizona) across all five races. A lot of us are writing that Republicans have candidate issues.
Today, Democrats are up in only three of those five, according to the polling average. Their biggest lead is 4 points (in Arizona), they are 1 point behind Nevada and 3 points behind Wisconsin.
All of these games are within the margin of error, and it is conceivable that either side has taken the board by storm.
Overall, the small Democratic advantage in the betting market for complex statistical models and control of the Senate now looks closer to a toss-up, or even a Republican advantage.
Political gravity seems to be at work.
The question now is whether Democrats can stop Republican momentum in the Senate race. But they only have two weeks to avoid losing both houses of Congress.