State of the mid-terms

A month ago the upcoming election seemed likely to go very badly for the Democrats, with a large loss of seats in the House, and an uphill battle to hold the Senate as well.  Today things look somewhat brighter for the Democrats, for several reasons:

The Republican nominating process has produced some pretty weak general election candidates in competitive Senate races and may produce more.

The death of Roe seems to be shifting the public towards the Democrats.  Nate Silver shows a 3 point shift towards the Democrats in the generic congressional ballot comparing results from pollsters who reported results both pre- and post-Dobbs.

The January 6th committee hearings have been disciplined and likely somewhat damaging for Republicans; they will motivate Democrats and keep some cross-pressured anti-MAGA voters in the Democratic fold.

Public support for Ukraine is holding steady, which bodes well for both justice and for the election.  I continue to think that Biden should emphasize the heroism of the Ukrainians and appeal to the patriotism of Americans much more than he is currently doing.  He should make it clear that the Ukrainians are winning (which is not obvious from superficial news reports of Russian advances in the Donbas) and highlight Russian atrocities.  This will shore up support for Ukraine and put isolationist and pro-Putin Republicans on the back foot.

The endless and painful string of mass shootings will continue, and may help the Democrats, although McConnell shrewdly encouraged bipartisan gun control legislation after the Uvalde tragedy which will likely obscure the differences between the parties on this issue.

Gas prices are coming down, and it seems at least plausible that inflation will moderate considerably in the next few months.  The main risk here seems to be that the Fed is overreacting and will tip the country into recession.  Biden should consider speaking out against excessive tightening, if only to be able to blame Republican inflation hawks for any rise in unemployment.

At this point Biden and the Democrats own COVID, and not in a good way.  It may not be a big negative for the Democrats, which is the best that we can hope for (other than a highly effective pan-coronavirus vaccine).  On the other hand, a fall surge and especially a vaccine-escaping mutation could be a big problem for the Democrats.

Trump may well enter the 2024 presidential race before the 2022 election, to deter rivals, grift his supporters, and make it more difficult for the feds to prosecute him.  Making the election about Trump will hurt the Republicans.

The Democrats still face long odds to hold the House, but with a bit of luck they can hold the Senate, keep the House close, and do reasonably well in critical state races.