The House Looks Gone, but do Democrats Have a Chance in the Senate?

IT’S VIRTUALLY CERTAIN that the House will flip back to the Republicans this fall, but do the Democrats have a chance to retain their razor-thin majority in the Senate? Maybe, but this is starting to look like a “wave” election, as in “tidal wave.”

NEWS THIS WEEKEND CONFIRMED the Democrats’ free fall, as average gasoline prices neared $5 per gallon, and a very modest gun reform bill inched toward passage. A big political story this week will be the recall vote against the progressive district attorney of San Francisco. Imagine that — Democrats are in trouble in San Francisco.

DEMOCRATS ARE HOPING to gain traction on gun regulation, abortion, and the prime-time hearings that begin this week on the Jan. 6, 2021 riots. The latter will generate enormous media attention, but whether it will switch many votes remains to be seen.

THAT BRINGS US TO THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS: Republicans need to gain only five net seats to take the House, and we think they’ll pick up at least 20 (and we’re on the low side; it could be a 30-plus blowout). So the real suspense will be races for the Senate, which currently is tied, 50-50.

THE DEATH OF ROE V. WADE, likely this summer, could produce a reaction in northern states like New Hampshire, where Democrats could hang on by a thread. There’s still a plausible path for Democrats to maintain Senate control, but that’s looking less likely as the party’s environmentalists howl over Joe Biden’s July trip to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to get to get more oil production.

THE SENATE MATH: There’s a 50-50 tie, with 21 Republican seats up for re-election compared to 14 Democratic seats. In normal times, that would point to the Democrats keeping control, but these aren’t normal times. There are two major themes in the Nov. 8 vote:

FIRST, can the Democrats pick up any seats? They have only three possibilities: taking out Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, winning the open seat in Ohio, where J.D. Vance (R) could make rookie mistakes, and taking the open seat in in Pennsylvania, where Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has looked erratic on his health issues. At most, the Democrats might pick up one seat.

SECOND, Could the Republicans pick up seats? Yes, in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada, and possibly Georgia, where the party faces a problem that vexes Mitch McConnell: the GOP has some weak candidates in states like Georgia. So we’ll say the GOP could pick up one or two seats.


Republicans gain control of the Senate by two seats, 20%;

Republicans gain control by one seat, 30%;

A tie, broken by Kamala Harris, 30% chance;

Democrats keep the Senate by one seat, 20%.

IT CAN’T GET MUCH CLOSER THAN THAT, with a tie going to the Democrats. The defining factor, of course, is inflation. Unless gasoline prices plunge this summer (highly unlikely), the Republicans are likely to gain control of the Senate.

INVESTMENT IMPLICATIONS: Even if Democrats keep the Senate by a seat or in a tie, their near-certain loss of the House will doom the Biden agenda in the last two years of his first term. We continue to believe he will not seek re-election.

Related: Hints of Deals: Manchin Spending, Gun Reform, Even Ukraine

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