US by-elections suggest brighter prospects for midterm Democrats as Liz Cheney suffers huge loss
The US midterm elections are just over two months away, on November 8. The 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 senators are up for election. In the 2020 election, Democrats won the chamber by a margin of 222 to 213 and held the Senate tied 50-50 with the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
On June 24, the United States Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v Wade decision, denying a constitutional right to abortion. This FiveThirtyEight article indicates that, relative to a district’s partisan bias, the average federal by-election had given Republicans a two-point gain prior to this ruling. Republicans performed very well in two by-elections in early June.
In four byelections since June 24, Democrats have averaged nine points better than the district’s partisan lean. This analysis was released Aug. 24 and did not include the Alaska District General by-election, where ranked ballots were used.
Compared to expectations, the best result for the Democrats was their Aug. 23 hold in the 19th in New York. Two polls in August had given Republicans a three- and eight-point lead, but the Democrat won by 51.1-48.7.
In the at-large District of Alaska, the top four candidates from a broad spectrum qualified in June for a preferential vote on Aug. 16, but a left-leaning independent pulled out. After Wednesday’s preference distribution, Democrat Mary Peltola beat Republican Sarah Palin 51.5-48.5, a win for the Democrats. The final primary votes were 40.2% Peltola, 31.3% Palin and 28.5% for Nick Begich, another Republican.
Palin’s weakness with other Republican voters explains why she lost. Begich voters split 50% Palin, 29% Peltola and 21% Escape. In the 2020 presidential election, Alaska voted for Donald Trump by a 52.8 to 42.8 margin over Joe Biden, so Peltola’s three-point win is a 13-point shift to the democrats.
Current forecasts and polls for the mid-terms
In my last piece on American politics three weeks ago, I wrote that Democrats benefited from the Supreme Court’s decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Read more: US Democrats gain ground ahead of midterm elections as Kansas voters reject bid to ban abortion
The FiveThirtyEight forecast now gives Democrats a 67% chance of holding the Senate, up from 60% three weeks ago. Republicans are still considered to have a 76% chance of taking control of the House, but that’s down from 80% three weeks ago. The House national poll now gives Democrats a 0.8% lead, up from 0.1% three weeks ago.
The 35 Senate seats in this year’s midterm election are 21 Republicans and 14 Democrats. While Republicans are defending more Senate seats, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gives Democrats a much bigger chance of holding the Senate than the House.
The biggest improvement for Democrats is in President Joe Biden’s ratings. At the end of July, Biden’s net approval in the FiveThirtyEight tracker was close to -20. His ratings are now 53.1% disapproval, 42.4% approval (net -10.7). Those odds are still mediocre, but the improvement should make it easier for Democrats in tight competition.
On August 16, Biden signed into law the Cut Inflation Act after it passed the Senate on August 7 and the House of Representatives on August 12. This law prioritized spending on health and the fight against climate change. I discussed the move to the Senate in my previous article on American politics.
On August 24, Biden announced that the government would forgive up to US$10,000 per person in student debt and up to US$20,000 for Pell Scholarship recipients.
I believe that the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the sense that Democrats are “getting things done” through legislation or executive action, and better economic data on inflation, as noted earlier, help all Democrats and Biden.
But there are still more than two months until the midterm elections, and the non-presidential party has won every midterm election convincingly since 2006.
The huge defeat of Liz Cheney in the Republican primary in Wyoming
Since the January 6, 2021 riots when Biden’s November 2020 election victory was certified, Liz Cheney has been the Republican who has condemned Trump the most, both for the riots and for the big lie that the election has failed. been stolen.
On August 16, Cheney was crushed by a 66-29 margin in a Republican primary for the at-large district of Wyoming by Harriet Hageman, endorsed by Trump. The US primaries are party screening contests that are open to a much larger number of voters than in Australia; they are administered by state election authorities.
Cheney’s loss means she will leave Congress when her term expires in January 2023. Trump won Wyoming by 43 points in 2020, so Hageman is certain to win the November general election and replace Cheney.
CNN analyst Harry Enten said Cheney’s loss was the second-worst in a primary by a House incumbent in the past 60 years. His loss of 37.4 points is just worse than a Democratic incumbent’s loss of 37.2 points in 2000, but better than a Republican incumbent’s loss of 41 points in 2010.
Four of the six House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riots and ran for re-election were defeated in the primaries; this includes Cheney. Only 2% of other House Republican incumbents seeking re-election were defeated.
None of the six who impeached Trump won a majority of the Republican vote in their primaries. Since 1956, House incumbents have averaged more than 90% of their party’s primary vote. Trump’s grip on the Republican Party remains powerful.