In recent gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans shaved 10-plus percentage points from Democratic statewide advantage—potentially signaling GOP momentum as attention turns to 2022 midterm elections.
Democrats' command of Congress will be tested in 2022
U.S. Senate and House of Representatives control, by party affiliation
Source: Associated Pres, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Principal Global Investors. Data as of November 15, 2021.
History tells us that a sitting president's party loses, on average, 37 House seats during a mid-term election when the president's job approval is below 50%. With President Joe Biden's approval hovering in the low 40s, it appears the narrow three-seat House majority held by Democrats is very much at risk in 2022.
Further complicating the math? An ongoing congressional redistricting process, controlled by Republicans in a greater number of states than by Democrats. That process alone could produce a net of 3-4 seats for the GOP and dampen further significant legislative action on Capitol Hill.
The Senate remains more complex. Republicans will be forced to defend 20 seats in 2022, including five open seat races. Democrats will be challenged to protect incumbents in 13 states, plus an open seat in Vermont. Campaign resources and candidate electability will play an outsized role in defining Senate control. With an average Senate campaign costing about $15 million, both parties are expected to raise more than the $1.15 billion spent on 2020 races.
Particularly in swing states, intraparty friction will complicate the primary process and create risks that unelectable "extreme" candidates emerge. Successfully avoiding "extreme" candidates may well decide Senate control, a dynamic that may not become fully clear until mid-2022.
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