Why 2022 may bring a new peak of political instability

Why 2022 may bring a new peak of political instability

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Key Facts

  • If there is a surprise in the House, it’s less likely to come from Democrats maintaining their majority than the Republicans exceeding the average 26 seat midterm gain for the party out of power since World War II.
  • (The sole asterisk on this pattern is that Republicans under George W. Bush regained unified control of Congress in the 2002 midterm held a year after the September 11 attacks after a party switch by a Republican senator in early 2001 flipped control of the chamber to Democrats and broke the GOP’s unified hold on Congress.) A Republican takeover of either or both chambers would extend one of the defining trends of modern politics: Neither party has held the White House and Congress for more than four consecutive years since 1968.
  • Democrats have squeezed out their precarious 50-50 Senate majority only by capturing eight of the ten seats in the five states that flipped from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020 (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia).
  • In 2024, they will be defending all three of the seats they hold in the two-time Trump states (Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Jon Tester in Montana), as well as seats in half a dozen other swing states that could go either way in a presidential contest (including Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.) If most of the toss up Senate races fall to the Republicans on Tuesday, those gains, combined with the 2024 map, could put the GOP in position to dominate the upper chamber throughout this decade.

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