It’s been a while, so let’s go dark.
1. Tipping Points
We’ve talked before about what a strange election 2022 is. Normally in a midterm we know the directionality of the outcome and the uncertainty is about the magnitude: How far will the swing go?
In 2022, even the directionality is uncertain.
It is highly likely that Republicans will retake the House. But not certain. And a very small swing of votes could be the difference between Republicans picking up enough seats to take control and Democrats holding on.
In the Senate, the directionality is even more uncertain. If you were drawing a distribution curve for outcomes, the fattest part of the curve—the 80 percent in the middle—probably runs all the way from D +4 to R +4. And the actual number of votes needed to get from one end of that range to the other is quite small.
That’s because we have a bunch of races which are going to be much closer than they should be.
J.D. Vance should win Ohio by 8 points. He probably won’t. So the question is, does Tim Ryan sneak out a 1 point win, or does Vance hang on and win by 3?
Mike Lee should win Utah by at least 10 points. He probably won’t.
John Fetterman should have been clobbering Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania—but he had a stroke and health events always scramble races.
Hop around the map and you see one place after another where favored candidates—Herschel Walker, Blake Masters, Adam Laxalt, Ron Johnson—are underperforming for one reason or another.
The most important voters in 2022 will be split-ticket voters and the results in the Senate will be determined by whether or not there will be enough of them to hit the tipping point in these races.
But let’s pretend, just for today, that nearly all of the Democrats fall just short.