About the midterm elections a month ago, Newt Gingrich made a bold forecast that many people thought was completely off the wall.
In an interview with Fox, the former Republican House Speaker predicted that the party will gain anywhere from 25 to 70 seats in the House. “I think we’ll pick up between 25 and 70 seats in the House,” he said.
Seventy places available! That would not only surpass the 63 seats gained by Republicans in the midterm elections of 2010, but it also would be the largest seat transfer in the House since 1948.
Gingrich was probably just riffing, as he does frequently; he was shooting for an absurdly high ceiling on Republican gains to garner headlines and attention.
Which means that the goal has successfully been completed.
At least for the time being, the projections made by political handicappers who are not affiliated with either major party are significantly lower than Gingrich’s ceiling of 70 seats. Together with Amy Walter, David Wasserman serves as the House editor at Cook Political Report, and they predict that the Republican Party will gain between 20 and 35 seats. “Republicans are well positioned to win the majority of seats in the upcoming election,” said Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections, who did not yet publish his range but will do so the following week.
According to recent findings from Gallup, the national political environment for Democrats is perhaps worse than it was in 2010. This raises at the very least the risk that the party suffers even higher losses than are now expected.
According to what Jeffrey M. Jones and Lydia Saad have written for Gallup:
“In midterm elections, the party of the president often suffers losses in the United States House of Representatives, with an average loss of 23 seats since 1974. On the other hand, it does not appear that 2022 will be a typical year. Instead, as of the month of May, Gallup found that approval of the president’s job performance, along with three other important national mood indicators, was much lower than the historical norms recorded in years before to midterm elections. If taken in isolation, each of these data would suggest that the Democratic Party will suffer a larger-than-usual loss of seats in the upcoming election.”
The environment that was measured in May looks a lot like it did at the end of the cycle in 2010 when it comes to presidential approval, congressional approval, satisfaction with the direction the country is heading, and overall judgement of economic conditions. This can be seen by taking a look at the data collected by Gallup, which looks at presidential approval, congressional approval, satisfaction with the direction the country is heading, and overall judgement of economic conditions.
Biden approval: 41 percent
Congressional approval: 18 percent
US satisfaction: 16 percent
Economic circumstances (net): -32
Obama approval: 45 percent
Congressional approval: 21 percent
US satisfaction: 22 percent
Economic circumstances (net): -31
It’s very close, isn’t it? If anything, the current national political landscape for Democrats is even more challenging than it was back in 2010 when viewed through the lens of these four variables.
Now, before you agree with Gingrich’s forecast of 70 seats, there are a few things you should take into consideration, including the following:
a) The most recent two procedures of national redistricting, which took place in 2011 and 2021, have, in general terms, resulted in the creation of more safe districts, which are districts that almost certainly will elect a member of one party.
b) Since some of the “lower-hanging fruit” has already been, well, picked, the results of the 2020 election, in which Republicans gained 12 House seats, would likely limit the maximum amount of gains that the GOP can make.
To be absolutely clear about this: A 70-seat gain for the Republican Party in the upcoming election still seems more like a Gingrich fever dream than a really possible scenario. According to the findings of Gallup, however, “the present Democratic congressional majority is confronting an exceedingly unfavourable election climate.” [Citation needed]
The main idea here is that the Democrats are in the worst position they have been in for many decades at this stage in a midterm election. This hasn’t happened in many years. And to make matters even worse for the party, there does not appear to be any evident incident or set of events that may (or will) change the course of events.