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Mostly Cloudy with Veering Winds: Forecasting the 2022 U.S. Midterms

Mostly Cloudy with Veering Winds: Forecasting the 2022 U.S. Midterms

“And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

St. Matthew 16:3 (King James Version)

New Orleans, LA — The Howlin’ Wolf bar in downtown New Orleans converted itself into a political stage of a kind on Tuesday evening, one week before the 2022 U.S. midterms. It played host for the people of Southernmost Louisanna to rally around Luke Mixon, one of the Bayou State’s clutch of Democrats straining for the available Senate slot. 

To call the vibe funeral-like would be a cultural inaccuracy, given that the typical New Orleans death march involves a crowd, jazz, dances, and respectful jubilation. 

I can corroborate. Two days prior, there was a second line for the deceased novelist Anne Rice. And by contrast, it was evident 15 minutes into this rally that Louisianna’s electorate would find greater enthusiasm punching a ballot for a departed Rice than a carnal Mixon. 

I sat with the campaign team as they grit their teeth, squinted into the day’s dying light, and told me there was hope. If only Luke could force a runoff.  

Even for a cow-eyed staffer, it was an ambitious stretch of the imagination. But what else is there to say? 

In Louisianna, the incumbent, John Kennedy, sits atop the projections, leading by around 37 points. Republican challenger, Devin Lance Graham, is in second. Then there’s Mixon — a semi-pro-life, pro-second amendment Democrat. He’s in third with about 11%, slightly edging out three additional liberal opponents. 

A volunteer informed me Mixon was set to give a speech. Speak to whom? My guess was as good as his. There was a handful of early-evening-drunks, a kit of pigeons, and the Mixon staff scattered about— each weary demo carrying a look communicating the same thing: Please, no politics. Not right now.

Soon enough, a tinted SUV hugged the curb. Mixon looked over both shoulders, shuffled crabwise towards the passenger door, plopped down, and barrelled off. I snagged the aforementioned volunteer and interrogated him as to why they nixed the Mixter’s speech; I explained politely how I was waiting to be electrified.

“He already knows everybody here,” he replied. 

The 2022 U.S. Midterms 

Well—they’re right around the corner, perched with a chain whip and violently inhaling a filterless Maverick. If you’ve heard a nervous clicking noise growing in frequency somewhere from the East, pay it no mind; it’s just President Biden gnawing his fingernails, which are reportedly growing back at a visible speed.

The 2022 U.S. midterms will likely continue the political frenzy of 2018, which turned out 53% of America’s voting-age population. The 2018 election was the highest midterm participation rate since the late 1960s and marked a 12-point increase from one of the lowest-ever midterm turnouts in 2014. 

Projections suggest that attendance for the 2022 midterms could be even higher than four years ago. With issues like abortion, inflation, petrol, and insurrection on the forepart of voters’ minds, ballot boxes will no doubt receive all the democracy they’ve bargained for this Tuesday. And then, perhaps, we’re in for another strong chaser of sore losers, election denials, isolated outbursts of treachery, and organized capital desecration. 

The Democratic party is in poor condition this midterm season—which, to be fair, isn’t abnormal for the incumbent side. Since the days of FDR, the party holding executive power has lost, on average, 26 House and four Senate seats.

An incoming Republican House majority is practically fait acompli. The Senate began as a semi-favorable map, initially believed to slide further into Democratic territory. Now it’s a toss-up, if not softly glowing a radioactive red. You might say it could and should be much worse. With the proper comms strategy, the GOP could’ve set the board up for a sucker-mate. Instead, they’re projected to make modest gains, a testament to their empty strategy of negative partisanship and inability to speak coherently on anything economic.

Not only this, but outside of congress, there’s a handful of disastrous Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State races, spelling chaos for future election certifications in key battleground states. 

In the races still in play, it’s looking none too accommodating for Democratic hopefuls. However, there’s a case to be made that such anxiety is overhyped. Some point out that Democrats have faired well in special elections throughout the year, finding surprising victories in states like Kansas, Nebraska, and Alaska. In a best-case scenario, Dems might reel in a few Senate seats.

So, in memory of the Mixon campaign, here’s a look at some of the shakiest Senate races as we fall face-first into the 59th quadrennial U.S.A midterm elections.

Ohio

While Tim Ryan failed to receive much grease from the Democratic PAC ATM, he’s had a massively successful grass-roots fundraising campaign, crushing Ohio’s previous records. In total, he’s raised nearly $50 million—spending it as fast as it pours in.

On the other hand, J.D. Vance has survived on McConnell’s financial oxygen tank since the primary. He even received another $28 million post-Labor-Day allowance to help drag his lifeless campaign over the finish line. The Ohio race, for the most part, has been plausible. And it was a long-shot race from the start, as Ohio went 8-points deep for Trump in 2016 and 2020. 

In a better year for Dems, it wouldn’t be outlandish to see a politician like Ryan overcome Ohio’s yet-ossified status as a Republican stronghold. Ryan’s longstanding ties with many of Ohio’s major unions and his ability to say he cares about Ohioans with a straight face have gone a long way. This credibility is opposed to Vance’s cheap Midwestern makeover, who — outside of spending his entire career berating, then avoiding, and finally leeching on the Buckeye State — is running perhaps the most flaccid Republican Senate campaign in the country. 

But with Vance’s steady drum of Fox News facetime, national economic anxiety, and the general disapproval of Biden’s presidency, it’s unlikely that Ohio will have a sizeable blueward shift in 2022. 

Prediction: Ohio’s 2022 U.S. midterms results 

  • J.D. Vance (R) – 51%
  • Tim Ryan (D) – 48%

Pennsylvania

Many pundits predict that the Oz-Fetterman debate will have little impact on the outcome, given it fell so close to the election. Of course, it’s hard to tally how the debate shifts the numbers, but it’s not looking bright for Fetterman. 

Sure, the Oz campaign has been an eerie clown act from top to toe, and Fetterman’s staff has done a swell job underscoring that fact. However, while the Democrats dominated the media frontier, Pennsylvania is likely to be as narrowly decided as it was in 2020. 

Like many other races, from the ides of October onwards, Democratic margins have eroded. Enthusiasm over Fetterman’s scrappy political punk-rock ambiance has faded, and inflation and crime are proving to be the main drivers for the undecided votes. 

In many ways, this one feels like a gritty rerun of a Beto campaign. 

Prediction: Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. midterms results 

  • Mehmet Oz (R) — 50%
  • John Fetterman (D) — 49%

Arizona

“If you want to get across the line, you need to be stronger on that one thing … lot of complaints about. Look at Kari … and if they say, ‘How is your family?’ She says, ‘The election was rigged and stolen.’ You’ll lose if you go soft,” 

Masters flared the ire of Trump when he called Biden the legitimate President of the United States during his debate against Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly. But, like Walker, Oz, Vance, and Laxalt, Masters has had his ears flooded with Trump’s whispers throughout the cycle. 

After trailing the whole way, Masters has narrowed the race in Arizona, bringing it within the margin of error. Polls still show Kelly ahead, but Arizona has always been a fly in the ointment, much like Florida, so it’s anyone’s victory come Tuesday. Biden won Arizona in 2020 by 11,000 votes — 0.3%. Not a huge rut for the GOP to straddle, especially in this troubled season for Democrats.

Prediction: Arizona’s 2022 U.S. midterms results 

  • Mark Kelly (D) — 50%
  • Blake Masters (R) — 48%

Nevada

If you want to grab a sand-snorkel and dive into Nev-add-ah’s Senate race, you’re best off with your nose stuck in Jon Ralston’s blog.

Cortez Masto guarded her lead for as long as she possibly could but it dwindled through Sept. – early Oct. Finally, within the last two weeks, numbers have slipped to favor Laxalt.

According to Ralston’s insight on early-voter turnout, things aren’t looking so hot. But, as always for Republican success in Nevada, it’ll come down to scaling the Clark County firewall. 

Laxalt pandered mainly to Nevada’s rural counties, leaning heavily into Trumpism, and refused to extend any form of an olive twig to disgruntled Democrats. This may be the closest race in the country, but it’s likelier and already evident that there’ll be a massive turnout among the Republican base. 

Prediction: Nevada’s 2022 U.S. midterms results 

  • Adam Paul Laxalt (R) — 50%
  • Catherine Cortez Masto (D) — 49%

Georgia

I can’t help but feel this race ranks highest on the Fujita Scale. Words aren’t the correct way to comment on Georgia’s Senate situation. It’s better done through tragic groans.

As Herschel Walker’s many controversies grow into a hideous wad, his numbers go up. This is largely thanks to the trusty shield-of-bad-faith, courtesy of the Fox Corporation, which ushers Walker into their newsroom and lobs him a series of novocaine-laced softballs to smack back at viewers. But it’s hard to deny his numbers simply reflect the historic Republican appetite for nihilism. Another large serving of wormwood that’s been planted, harvested, and devoured since the days of McCarthy and Cohn… but there’s no need to be trivial. 

Georgia’s early voting results indicate record-shattering numbers. And heading into the home stretch, Warnock retains a slight lead in many polls. 

Prediction: Georgia’s 2022 U.S. midterms results

  • Raphael Warnock (D) — 50%
  • Herschel Walker (R) — 49%

New Hampshire

With his campaign engine running on a carb-heavy diet of crank conspiracy theories, Don Bolduc, Brigadier General emeritus, keeps New Hampshire’s race far tighter than expected. 

Incumbent Senator, Maggie Hassan, ran a stiff campaign, scaring off many of New Hampshire’s heavy-hitting Republican prospects, like current NH Governor Chris Sununu. Hassan led polls throughout the race and still does, but the lead has deflated. 

Bolduc surged throughout October, bringing the race within narrow margins, and is even finding some polls peeking in his favor. 

It’s known as America’s smallest swing state for a reason. More likely than not, Hassan keeps her seat — but like her race in 2016, victory will be paper-thin. 

Prediction: New Hampshire’s 2022 U.S. midterms results

  • Maggie Hassan (D) — 50%
  • Donald Bolduc (R) — 48%

Sources: 

  1. Memorial for Anne Rice
  2. Louisiana Senate projections
  3. A look at the 2018 midterm turnout
  4. Midterms 2022: What’s on the ballot? 
  5. Democratic success in special election leading up to midterms
  6. Tim Ryan’s massive fundraising campaign success
  7. Comparing Ohio’s Senate fundraising numbers
  8. Tim Ryan’s attempt at uniting Ohio
  9. J.D. Vance’s late ad blitz
  10. The political ascension of J.D. Vance
  11. Pennsylvania’s senate race narrows
  12. Trump’s call with Blake Masters
  13. Arizona declared a toss-up
  14. Nevada early voting blog
  15. Laxalt’s transformation of Nevada politics
  16. Herschel Walker’s numbers rise
  17. Georgia’s early voter turnout
  18. Georgia Senate race, tracking the ad spends
  19. Don Bolduc’s conspiracy campaign
  20. Hassan’s 2016 Senate victory
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