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Just eight weeks ago, Democrats appeared to be careening toward a disastrous election on November 8th. Inflation was soaring, gas prices were at record highs and the dissatisfaction among voters seemed cemented.
But in politics, time moves differently. The last eight weeks seem to have all but electrified the Democratic base and thrown prospects of a “red wave” into question.
Loss of abortion rights and increase in legislative wins enhance prospects for Democrats
On June 24th, the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade. In the weeks that followed, Republican-led states across the country began to all but eliminate abortion rights. The message from Congressional Democrats was clear: if Republicans win midterms, they will fight to ban abortion nationwide.
With the heaviness of the decision looming large, Democrats in Congress have been able to move forward on significant legislation.
Both the House and the Senate passed bi-partisan gun reform legislation for the first time in 30 years. Democrats in the House also voted to implement universal background checks and reauthorize the assault weapons ban. Party leaders were also able to pass the bi-partisan CHIPS Act, funding over $250 Billion in AI research funding and incentives for companies to manufacture semiconductors in the US.
Now, the US Senate appears increasingly likely to pass a bill enshrining federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage into law. And in a surprise agreement, Democrats may soon pass the country’s largest ever investment in renewable energy and carbon reduction.
After nearly a year of stagnation, this flurry of wins signals a small but noticeable shift for the party.
At the same time that Democrats are seeing wins, Republicans are taking hits.
The “party of Trump” is bruised after months of damning evidence and testimony in the January 6th hearings. That bruising only worsened after the party voted to block a bill to ensure healthcare for Veterans who suffered illness because of military burn pits.
Polls show Dems chances improving slightly
All of this, coupled with the backdrop of falling gas prices and the economy seeming to narrowly avoid an expected recession, appear to put Democrats on increasingly solid footing.
According to the political analysts from Five Thirty Eight, Democrats’ chances to maintain control of the US Senate after midterm elections have improved significantly these last two months.
On June 1, analysts predicted Republicans had a 60% chance of winning control of the US Senate. As of August 1, they now predict Democrats have a 56% chance of maintaining 50 or more US Senate seats.
The biggest shifts have come in the Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and North Carolina midterm Senate races.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic nominee John Fetterman had an only 35% chance of winning the seat two months ago. Now, his chances are up to 63%. Similarly, two months ago incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia had an only 38% chance of winning a second term. Now, the Georgia race is a 50/50 tossup with new polling showing Warnock leading.
In Wisconsin and North Carolina, Mandela Barnes and Cheri Beasley are respectively looking to flip a red seat blue. While both are still considered the underdogs in their races, polling shows their prospects improving. Since June 1st, Barnes and Beasley have moved from being 7 points down in the polls to just 3.5% down.
At the the same time, while prospects for Democrats in the House continue to look bleak, they are slightly improving. On June 15th, Democrats were predicted to lose 25 seats in the House, but that number has since dropped to eighteen. While Republicans appear poised to take back the House of Representatives, Democrats may be able to mitigate their losses more than expected.
With less than 100 days until midterms, battle to control Congress is only heating up
The November 8th midterm elections are less than 100 days away. As both parties ramp up their battles for control of Congress, it remains to be seen if Democrats can maintain their momentum.
The country continues to face rising inflation, economic uncertainty and a raging debate surrounding the basic rights of every day Americans.
Historically, the party in charge of the White House tends to lose in midterm elections. With Democrats in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, Republicans are in a position of strength. If Democrats are able to rally an unexpected, last-minute win, it will be a stunning blow to the GOP.