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MCKENNA: The Stars Will Align For Republicans In November. Here’s Why


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Michael McKenna Contributor
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Recently, a rash of Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, made predictions about the upcoming elections. It doesn’t look all that difficult; let’s give it a try.

First, let’s think about context.

The Republicans have a decided advantage with respect to issues; the issues that voters consider most important — the economy, crime, border security — are the same issues on which they most trust Republicans and are most skeptical of Team Biden. (RELATED: HICKS: Two Former AGs Are Duking It Out For A Key Senate Seat. Their Track Records Couldn’t Be More Different)

The incumbents also suffer from a growing sense of gathering economic gloom. Across a range of surveys, between 60% and 80% of survey respondents believe that we are in a recession.

Republicans have an advantage with respect to voter enthusiasm. In almost every State that matters this cycle — Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio — more voters turned out to vote in Republican primaries. Survey data is occasionally interesting and indicative. Actual voting volume is almost always probative and dispositive.

With respect to surveys, when you focus on likely voters, the results indicate that Republicans have momentum and are beginning to get the upper hand in a variety of Senate races, including Ohio, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin. Republicans also have a distinct advantage in the Congressional generic ballot.

At the same time, it seems likely that surveys are systematically undercounting Republican votes (again). In the wake of the president’s recent remarks on fascism, it is very unlikely that each and every Republican feels comfortable self-identifying. We already see evidence of oversampling of college-educated voters (now a core constituency of the incumbent party).

With respect to paid media, Republicans finally have enough cash to compete on-air in the Senate and House races. The Democrats will spend more this cycle, but it is important to remember that the law of diminishing returns is especially true in political campaigns. After the first dozen or so ads, people stop paying attention.

What does all that mean for specific races?

House of Representatives. Given the durable Republican advantage among likely voters (about 7% on average) on the generic ballot test, it seems safe to assume that the Republicans will win the national House vote by at least 2-3 percentage points. That suggests they will win about 230 seats.

Senate races tend to be more specific to places and personalities, so let’s take them individually.

Wisconsin. Sen. Ron Johnson is used to winning close elections and has finally discovered the right issue and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes’ weak spot (crime). The incumbent will win.

Pennsylvania. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman started the race with numerous personal and policy failings, and if the Republicans had a stronger candidate, this race would already be over. That said, money from the right is starting to flow into the Commonwealth, the challengers’ campaign has gotten better, and Mr. Fetterman has been unable to mount any kind of campaign. Keeping in mind that Pennsylvania has voted more Republican than the nation as a whole for the last six cycles, it seems more likely than not that Dr. Mehmet Oz ultimately wins this race in a squeaker.

Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine is going to win his race for reelection by a dozen points. Despite the fact that Ohio has never elected a legitimate conservative (no, Rob Portman doesn’t count), J.D. Vance wins, and it probably won’t be particularly close.

Georgia. In the wake of spectacular self-immolation that has been the Abrams campaign, Gov. Brian Kemp is going to win his race by 8-10 points, and Herschel Walker will ride along in the wake. It will not hurt that the last seven weeks of the election season happen during a college football season in which the Bulldogs are doing well.

Nevada. Nevada has been decimated by the pandemic and inflation, the Republicans have made inroads with Hispanics in the state, and the formidable Reid machine is no more. Adam Laxalt wins.

Arizona. Incumbent Senator Mark Kelly has been largely invisible, has crested 50% only a handful of times, and has just generally had trouble putting away Blake Masters (who talks too much). Eventually, cash from the right will flow into Arizona, Mr. Masters will be the great candidate he can be, and Kari Lake (the Republican candidate for governor) will win by 4 or 5 points. That will probably be the difference in Mr. Masters’ victory.

North Carolina. Congressman Ted Budd will win.

Florida. Sen. Marco Rubio wins.

Washington. The 30-year incumbent has been unable to create any distance between herself and Tiffany Smiley, who is an impressive first-time candidate. In an upset, Ms. Smiley wins.

Colorado. Joe O’Dea has run a good campaign, but a late visit by former President George Bush probably seals the deal for Senator Michael Bennet, who wins probably by the same margin (6%) as his last victory.

Taken all together, it should be a good night for the Republicans.

Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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