With just a week to go before the 2022 Midterm elections on Nov. 8, the outlook for which party will be able to claim a major victory remains unclear based on different polls and data points. However, each party is paying close attention to seats in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Control of the U.S. House and Senate will be decided as well as governors in 36 of the 50 states. Although a lot of the mainstream has been asking the question about Democrats’ momentum stalling recently, some of the latest data has shown some really good signs for the party. National polling has tightened across individual races and for a generic ballot between the Democrats and Republicans.
Polling conducted by the New York Times and Siena College published earlier this month showed a four-point lead for Republicans–49 percent to Democrats’ 45 percent–among likely voters, possibly representing a momentum shift. It also showed that independents and women voters have moved toward Republicans since September.
Up to 44 percent of those surveyed said inflation and the economy is the biggest issue, up from 36 percent in July. Inflation and the economy is the biggest issue among likely voters and remains consistent across multiple polls.
Although this survey showed Republicans leading in public favor, additional voting data by TargetEarly, a Democratic political data firm, shows approximately 10 million Democrats have cast their ballots early or requested their absentee ballots compared to about 8 million Republicans. Early voting, especially in large numbers which has reportedly been done in record-breaking ways in battleground states like Georgia, is an encouraging sign for the Democratic party despite previous polling showing they are less in favor.
Democrats are outperforming their votes from previous races across other battleground states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and even Pennsylvania, where they are up over 360,000 votes in early voting.
Another poll from Harvard University shows that 40 percent of young voters, aged 18-29, “definitely” plan to vote in the midterms, which is on track to match or even exceed record-breaking turnout in 2018 for a midterm. The study also found that over half of them (57 percent) support Democrats’ control of Congress with inflation, abortion, protecting democracy and climate change as the main issues they care about.
New York Times political reporter, Howard University graduate and previous Hilltop editor Maya King has extensively followed the Georgia races. King says the races indicate voters are very enthusiastic.
“Democrats and Republicans alike are very motivated to vote for their people. What you’re seeing is a lot of energy in the ground… a lot of people are casting ballots early because they are concerned about extra long lines on Election Day, others just wanted to get it out of the way, and others feel their vote might be suppressed,” King said.
The Georgia gubernatorial race between Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger and Georgia activist Stacey Abrams is a rematch from 2018 in which Kemp won by 54,000 votes. In the 2020 presidential election, Abrams received high praise for her outreach work turning out Black voters in places like Atlanta and turning Georgia blue for the first time since the 1992 presidential election. Despite polling showing Kemp leading Abrams on an average of 5 points, if Abrams is able to achieve the same level of outreach and engagement that she has previously, she has a good chance to be victorious.
“Because of how much Georgia is changing politically, these can be anybody’s races to win or lose,” King said, noting that the demographic changes in Georgia could be what helps the Democratic candidates once again.
The Georgia Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnockand Republican challenger and former football player Herschel Walker has shown polling swing both ways throughout the race. Warnock has gained recently following the latest round of controversies involving Walker paying for women’s abortions despite having expressed support for a nationwide ban on abortions.
In the first debate on Oct. 14, Walker indicated that he supports the Georgia six-week bill that has some exceptions for abortion such as rape or incest. He did not appear for the second debate which took place on Oct. 16.
In the Pennsylvania Senate race, in which both parties are eying heavily to gain the majority, Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and Republican candidate and TV personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, had their first debate on Oct. 25. Fetterman, who suffered a stroke back in May, used the debate to address concerns of him being able to fulfill the job and take care of his health.
“I had a stroke. He’s never let me forget that. And I might miss some words during this debate, mush two words together, but it knocked me down, but I’m going to keep coming back up,” Fetterman said.
At some points, Fetterman jumbled words, and the debate featured closed captioning to accommodate any issues with understanding Fetterman’s speech.
As with other debates, abortion had been the main topic. A comment on abortion by Oz during the debate drew a lot of attention.
“I want women, doctors, local political leaders—letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive—to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves,” Oz said.
“If you believe that the choice of your reproductive freedom belongs with Dr. Oz, then you have a choice…If you believe that the choice for abortion belongs between you and your doctor, that’s what I fight for,” Fetterman responded.
The Oct. 18 debate for the Florida Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Val Demings saw the issues of abortion, gun reform and the economy debated. One of many moments that went viral for Rep. Demings was her response to Rubio on abortion.
“As a police detective who investigated cases of rape and incest, no Senator, I don’t think it‘s okay for a 10-year-old girl to be raped and carry the seed of her rapist. No, I don’t think it is okay for you to make decisions for women and girls. As a senator? I think those decisions are made between the woman, her family, her doctor and her faith,” Demings said.
Democrats believe maintaining Warnock’s Senate seat and picking up at least two such as Fetterman and Demings would be crucial to their ability to pass major legislation that Democratic voters support. President Biden announced that if Democrats win in the midterms by picking up Senate seats and maintaining the House, he would have the votes to be able to pass a federal law codifying access to abortion.
Other races that have been closely watched that could swing the fate of the Senate to either party include the Ohio race between incumbent Republican Sen. J.D. Vance and Democratic challenger Rep. Tim Ryan, Wisconsin between incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes and Nevada with incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s midterm forecasting, the Democrats have a slightly better chance of maintaining control of the Senate while Republicans are expected to win the majority in the House. In the House of Representatives, Democrats already have a very narrow lead of 220 to 212 and because of factors like redistricting, which has given a strong edge to Republicans, they are expected to win many seats in House races.
Voters can visit Vote.gov to register and find out all information about how to vote in their states, deadlines for absentee ballots, polling locations and more.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman