As America prepares for another election cycle this fall, many signs are pointing to a “red wave” of Republican victories. Democrats are getting worried about losing control of Congress in November and then the White House — possibly to former President Donald Trump — come 2024.
In a report Tuesday, Axios called it the “Democrats’ worst Trump nightmare.”
“Democrats need to wake up, because right now they’re sleepwalking into disaster, with no plan to avert it,” Simon Bazelon, author of the Out of the Ordinary Substack and a political science and philosophy student at Yale University, wrote last week.
“Overall, the combination of decreasing incumbency advantage and a poor national environment for Democrats means we should probably expect Democrats to control between 46 and 47 Senate seats after 2022 — depending, essentially, on whether or not [Democrat] Maggie Hassan manages to hold her seat in New Hampshire,” Bazelon wrote.
In January, Gallup reported that political party preferences made a big shift in 2021.
About 47 percent of Americans either identified as Republican or at least indicated a preference for the GOP. Only 42 percent identified or favored the Democratic Party.
The 5-point GOP advantage was very unusual, Gallup said: Republicans have held such an edge in only four quarters since 1991, and the only bigger GOP advantage came early that year after the U.S. victory in the Persian Gulf war.
“For decades, more Americans have tended to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, even if the gap has sometimes been small,” FiveThirtyEight reported in February.
In November’s election, this shift of favor toward the GOP seems likely to play out in Democrats losing congressional seats.
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“There’s a growing conviction in the media, and even among Democrats, that the coming November election could see a ‘red wave’ of Republicans winning their respective races in the House and perhaps the Senate,” Merrill Matthews wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill in January.
Matthews said some who have studied the trends and numbers were even predicting a “red tsunami” in 2022.
He pointed to an analysis by Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia that said, “With some key national factors seemingly in their favor, Republicans could win a healthy majority in the House in 2022 — perhaps even their biggest in nearly a century.”
Even President Joe Biden’s campaign pollster is pessimistic. John Anzalone recently told a Politico podcast this is “the worst political environment that I’ve lived through in 30 years of being a political consultant.”
Republicans are very hopeful about taking congressional control, James M. Lindsay wrote in a March 8 post for the Council on Foreign Relations.
With dozens of House Democrats having announced their retirement and the party holding 222 seats in the House (just four more than needed for a majority), “Republican candidates could grossly underperform historical averages and still retake the House,” Lindsay said.
But beyond what happens in November, Democrats are also worried about 2024 elections, for both Congress and the White House.
“The 2024 map is much worse,” Bazelon wrote.
Biden has been grappling with low approval ratings as Americans face historic inflation, a border crisis and racial division.
Only about 42 percent of Americans approve of the Biden is doing, according to FiveThirtyEight.
If Biden doesn’t turn things around by 2024, it could hurt the Democratic senators who are running in states that he either lost or just barely won in 2020.
Bazelon said several Democrats could be doomed by even a close presidential race in two years: Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
In 2020, Biden lost Montana, Ohio and West Virginia, and he won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Arizona by less than 2 percentage points.
In addition to the threat to Democrats in the Senate, the president’s struggles have put Republicans in position to retake the White House — and Trump has been dropping hints about running again.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Trump said, “We did it twice, and we’ll do it again. We’re going to be doing it again a third time,” The Washington Post reported.
This has Democrats fearing the specter of a Trump White House with a Republican-majority Senate and House.
Democratic data scientist David Shor sounded the alarm on April 4, tweeting, “Unless we see big structural changes in the Democratic party’s coalition, then the modal outcome for 2024 is Donald Trump winning a *filibuster-proof trifecta* with a minority of the vote.”