Democrats are viewed as the underdogs in the 2022 midterm elections, with the party likely to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress and expected to suffer significant losses.
Typically, the party of the current president does poorly in midterm elections. But that doesn’t mean they always lose, and certain circumstances might pave the way for President Joe Biden and the Democrats to make a stunning comeback.
The most glaring example is probably the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to reverse the precedent-setting abortion decisions Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which determined that a woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the Constitution.
It is unclear whether the Court’s decision will have an impact on turnout. But if Democratic voters and women are driven by a desire to preserve access to abortion, Biden’s party may just outperform the odds.
The House of Representatives and the Senate remaining under Democratic control, as well as potential net gains in both chambers, would be the best-case scenario for the party.
maintaining the Senate
Currently, there are 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two independents who join the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate. Due to this, Kamala Harris, the vice president, has had to exercise her right to a casting vote several times.
The Senate is predicted to be a toss-up in the 2022 election by polling company FiveThirtyEight, with Democrats defending 14 seats and Republicans holding onto 21; however, there is some room for Democratic gains.
Due to Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s retirement, the Pennsylvania Senate race is in doubt. To hold the Senate, the Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman needs to defeat the Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Additionally, Democrats may gain ground in Wisconsin and North Carolina, two races that FiveThirtyEight rates as leaning Republican, as well as pull off an unexpected victory in Ohio.
However, if the party wants to keep control of the Senate, incumbent Democrats in close races will also need to win re-election. The elections in Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona are rated as toss-ups by FiveThirtyEight. Democrats currently hold all of those seats.
Democrats may win 54 seats if all goes well on election day, falling short of the 60 votes required to end the filibuster. But it seems unlikely that this will happen.
Maintaining the House
In contrast, Republicans are predicted to prevail in the House of Representatives, per FiveThirtyEight’s analysis.
Five seats are vacant, and Democrats currently hold 220 seats to Republicans’ 210. To keep control of the chamber, the president’s party will need 218 seats.
According to FiveThirtyEight, even if Democrats hold onto all of their current seats and triumph in every close race, it won’t be enough to give them the majority. It appears that a significant shift in the nature of the midterm elections is necessary for a Democratic victory in the House.
That is conceivable, especially in light of the likely persistence of the abortion debate and the ongoing inquiries into the involvement of some Republicans in efforts to rig the 2020 presidential election.
The possibility of a “October surprise” during the election that swings the race in the Democrats’ direction seems remote at the moment.
Furthermore, it seems unlikely that control of either chamber will change. The last time that occurred was in 1998, when Republicans managed to maintain control of both the House and the Senate despite slight Democratic gains in the House and some modifications to the Senate’s makeup.
It’s important to note that Republicans’ failure to make progress at the time was viewed as a major surprise.
In spite of recent rumors about Nancy Pelosi’s future, it would be a major victory for Democrats if they could defy the odds and keep the House. Nancy Pelosi might even continue to serve as speaker.
Agenda of Biden and 2024
The results of the November elections will significantly affect two issues going into 2023: President Biden’s ability to carry out his agenda, and the 2024 presidential election.
Republicans will be able to thwart the president’s agenda by blocking legislation’s passage and, if they take over the Senate, preventing Biden from appointing a replacement for any Supreme Court vacancies that might occur.
The administration would benefit from even small Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and unexpected victories could give Biden the legislative firepower he needs to advance stalled legislation like the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan.
Republicans are reportedly already planning to launch a number of investigations into the administration, so Republicans losing the House would prevent them from doing so and stop those potential investigations from dominating the political agenda in the years leading up to 2024.
If Democrats maintain control of both houses of Congress, threats of impeachment against Biden from some Republican Party quarters would also lose all credibility, sparing the president another potential headache.