Midterm Update

As we approach this year’s midterm elections, absolutely nothing is clear. Could the Democrats hold both houses of Congress? Yes. Could the Republicans regain control of one or both houses of Congress? Yes. Two months is an eternity during an election season.

Historically, the party in power loses Congressional seats during the midterm election. That would mean Republicans regaining the Senate and reducing the Democratic advantage in the House, if not regaining both Houses of Congress.

There is, however, a mathematical advantage for Democrats when it comes to this year’s Senate races; namely, the U. S. Constitution’s method of electing one-third of all Senators every two years. (Each Senator enjoys a six-year term, so the Founding Fathers decided on this election procedure to ensure gradual, rather than abrupt, changes in control.) This year, there happen to be more Republican seats (21) than Democratic seats (14) up for reelection. Thus, of the total of 35 seats up for grabs, Democrats need only win 15 to improve their numbers in next year’s Senate. Republicans need to win 22.

Several events in 2021 and 2022 have also helped the Democrats:

First came the insurrection of January 6, 2021, in which a riotous crowd of Trump supporters attempted to interrupt the orderly counting of Electoral College votes. A number of otherwise-Republican voters have had second thoughts about supporting Trump candidates after that. If nothing else, the Republican Party has traditionally favored law and order.

Then came the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. Regional elections that were held after that ruling have tended to favor Democrats, one even occurring in the solidly red state of Kansas.

If the Democrats are to maintain or improve their Congressional advantage, they should resist the temptation to point fingers at Donald Trump. Instead, they should continue to remind voters, especially women, of the Republican social agenda that includes radical government intervention into highly private and personal healthcare decisions. They should point to Democratic successes in areas relating to infrastructure repair and modernization, climate change, and energy self-sufficiency. In blue and purple states, they should point to expansions in health insurance and a more compassionate approach to immigration policy. They should also argue for the need to enact common sense regulations to restrict access to assault weapons.

If Republicans are to regain control of Congress, they should resist the temptation to point fingers at President Biden. And they should especially stop claiming that the 2020 election was stolen or rigged. Instead, they should continue to remind voters of the tendency of Democrats to ignore inflation and Democrats’ failure to adequately address homelessness and crime. They should remind voters of the importance of effective policing and the dangers of reckless “defund the police” policies.

Will Democrats and Republicans follow these suggestions? Probably not. Instead, we can count on Democrats and Republicans to muddy the airwaves with negative commercials saying all the wrong things. Thus, for Spirited Reasoners, the election remains a tossup.