…from Sabato’s people…
KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE:
— Given that Democrats only hold a single-digit majority in the House of Representatives, the 2022 midterms will be extremely competitive.
— The generic ballot is the best tool for forecasting the House popular vote, and is especially useful in cycles without presidential races atop the ballot.
— From 2004 to 2020, a 1% increase in a party’s share of the generic ballot has translated to an average 0.87% bump in the House popular vote.
The 2022 midterms begin
The 117th Congress was sworn into office just over a month ago, and yet the 2022 midterms are already underway. Some defeated incumbents have already announced that they want a rematch in 2022, and candidates in competitive districts will soon start calling donors and building out their campaign staff.
After a surprise loss of 13 seats in the House of Representatives this November, congressional Democrats will need to break one of the most reliable trends in electoral politics if they are to hold their House majority. The president’s party almost always gets crushed in midterms and has lost an average of 33 seats over the last 40 cycles. Given that Democrats only won a 222-213 majority in the 2020 elections, they will have little room for error.
Pollsters will soon pivot to 2022
Once the dust has settled from Biden’s first weeks in office, pollsters will turn their attention to 2022. In presidential election cycles, the top of the ticket can be a go-to indicator of how the parties will fare down-ballot — in 2020, the 50.8% share that House Democrats earned was close to Biden’s 51.3% popular vote share. It may also be worth noting that, on Election Day, both Biden and House Democrats earned margins that were several points below their national polling projections. But in midterms, there are no presidential polls to extrapolate from. Instead, pollsters and pundits have to rely on the House generic ballot.
The generic ballot tries to measure the House popular vote — the cumulative share of the popular vote that each party will win in down-ballot House races. To do this, pollsters ask respondents to choose between a nameless Republican and Democrat for Congress. Gallup phrases it this way: “If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your congressional district — the Democratic Party’s candidate or the Republican Party’s candidate?” It measures national support for the two parties without some of the baggage carried by their polarizing national figures (think Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, etc.)….