Crystal Ball Final 2022 Ratings

Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.

Larry Sabato and company have released their final Election 2022 ratings. They’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been blogging although, in all candor, I’ve lost track of how accurate they’ve been in recent contests.

The bottom line up front:

— final Senate pick is 51-49 Republican, or a net Republican gain of 1 seat.

— Our final House pick is 237-198 Republican, or a net Republican gain of 24 seats.

— Our projected gubernatorial picture is 29-21 Republican, or a net Republican gain of 1 governorship.

That seems plausible based on not only the general polling indicators but President Biden’s approval ratings and long-term trends in the midterms. Indeed, I suspect it’s only this close because Republicans have nominated objectively awful candidates in so many Senatorial and Gubernatorial races.

Senate Races with Late Changes:

SenatorOld RatingNew Rating
Raphael Warnock (D-GA)Toss-upLeans Republican
C. Cortez Masto (D-NV)Toss-upLeans Democratic
PA Open (Toomey, R)Leans DemocraticLeans Republican

It’s looked for quite some time that Georgia would split its vote, re-electing both Republican Governor Kemp and Democratic Senator Warnock. If these projections are right, the woefully awful Herschel Walker will join The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

Governors Races with Late Changes:

GovernorOld RatingNew Rating
AZ Open (Ducey, R)Toss-upLeans Republican
Laura Kelly (D-KS)Toss-upLeans Republican
Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI)Likely DemocraticLeans Democratic
Steve Sisolak (D-NV)Toss-upLeans Republican
OR Open (Brown, D)Toss-upLeans Democratic
Tony Evers (D-WI)Toss-upLeans Republican

They’re projecting a mini-wave here. Four of the five toss-ups that changed did so in a Republican direction.

Analysis and Takeaways:

There is still a considerable amount of uncertainty about the Senate. Races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania can all accurately be described as jump balls. New Hampshire, where Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) is seeking a second term, is not quite in the same bucket, but it’s close.

[…]

Basically, we just think the environment is not conducive to Democrats holding the Senate. Could they? Absolutely. But we think the Republicans, despite this cycle’s challenges, could and should win the Senate. So we are leaning enough seats to them to get them to 51, their magic number for control (it is 50 for the Democrats because of the vice president’s tiebreaking power).

We feel zero temptation to pick against Republicans in any of the Leans Republican races where we have favored them the whole cycle (North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin). Likewise, we cannot justify picking against Democrats in New Hampshire or a couple of reach Republican targets, Colorado or Washington.

We have been inclined recently to pick against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), but the insular world of election forecasting was dealt a curveball when Jon Ralston, the top Silver State analyst whose Nevada Independent early voting blog is a must-read every 2 years, picked Cortez Masto to narrowly survive. That does also dovetail with some intel we picked up over the weekend from some Democratic sources suggesting that Cortez Masto has had a decent close to the campaign, polling-wise (though whatever lead she may or may not have is minuscule). The state’s early voting period, which often provides some clarity one way or the other, really hasn’t this time, as Ralston notes. It is also worth remembering that Nevada is the bluest of the core Senate battlegrounds (Biden carried all 4 of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, but Nevada’s the only place where he won by more than 2 points). We just can’t really justify going against Ralston given his strong track record over the years, especially with the picture otherwise murky.

So what now? Well, there’s Pennsylvania. We’ve had Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) with a small edge since the late summer, but television doctor Mehmet Oz (R) has been slowly consolidating GOP support. We have no idea if the Fetterman/Oz debate materially changed the race, but it was close before the debate and it’s close now. Of the key races, this is the only open seat, which has some bearing on our deliberations here. Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) appears to be in great shape to hold the state’s open-seat governorship, and his coattails could very well help Fetterman. But one doesn’t have to go back far to find a lonely landslide in Pennsylvania: Back in 2014, now-Gov. Tom Wolf (D) soundly defeated unpopular incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R) by 10 points, but Republicans ended up easily defending all of their U.S. House seats and made gains in both chambers of the state legislature. We’re giving a small edge to Oz. This would be a Republican hold.

And then there’s Georgia. A runoff is still very much on the table, but some of our Republican sources are expressing optimism that they can get former NFL star Herschel Walker (R) over the runoff threshold against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) on Tuesday. We know what many of you are thinking, because we have heard it countless times this year: Herschel Walker? In the SenateYes, we think it’s a little likelier than not, on Tuesday or in a runoff. While Georgia is trending to becoming more of a purple state, realignment does not happen all at once, and states that are moving sometimes revert back to their roots — which are Republican red in Georgia, at least over the past couple of decades. We do reserve the right to revisit this rating if there is a runoff: 2 of the 3 of us grew up in the South, where runoffs are part of the political culture, and we’ve seen firsthand how the dynamics in the second round of voting can change quite dramatically. It may be that a Georgia Senate runoff is for all the marbles — or the chamber might be decided by then. There are all sorts of variables.

We’re doing all of this because we believe the Republicans are at least small favorites in the Senate, and so we wanted to get them to at least 51 in our ratings. Georgia and Pennsylvania, in addition to the other Republican-leaning races that we are not changing, is the path we’ve chosen, based on our best intel. And, to be honest, we think it’s probably likelier that Republicans get over 51 than Democrats stay at 50 and preserve their majority. Another race right on the edge is Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ); if he loses, that would also be a reversion story, just like Georgia. But we still see Kelly with a tiny edge.

This is some old-style punditry and the opposite of the stats-driven analytics we’ve become accustomed to in recent years. They’re professional political scientists looking at the numbers but, at the same time, relying on gut instincts, rumors, and the takes of other pundits they think have a pulse on things.

It’s especially amusing to start with a perfectly reasonable gut instinct—that it’s more likely that Republicans win a slight Senate majority than that Democrats retain ostensible control—and then move backward to projecting which races they’ll win.

This seems a safer bet:

It seems unlikely that the Senate majority will be clear on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Arizona often takes a few days to finish its count. Heavily Democratic absentee ballots will take longer to count in Pennsylvania, which will contribute to a “red mirage” in that state (even if Oz wins, his margin appears likely to look large earlier on, just like Donald Trump’s did in 2020 before evaporating). Georgia, of course, has the possibility of a runoff, and Nevada may be close enough that mail ballots, which have until Saturday to arrive, could impact the outcome.

So it may take an outcome we’d regard as at least a small upset to provide Election Night clarity on the Senate. On the pro-Republican side, the state to watch is New Hampshire, where Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) appears to retain a tiny lead on retired Gen. Don Bolduc (R). A GOP win there would go a long way toward resolving any sort of uncertainty about Senate control. For Democrats, the signal for a wildly successful night would be flipping the open seats in North Carolina or Ohio or beating Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in Wisconsin. But at this point we don’t think the Democrats have a good shot at pulling off any of those upsets.

This is a long way of saying that we probably will need to be patient in the battle for the Senate. We’re sure that bad actors will exploit the uncertainty for their own ends, but just remember that this was all foreseeable in advance — just like in 2020.

Which is pretty much where I’ve been for the last two weeks or so: we’re just going to have to wait to see it play out. I think a modest Republican takeover of the House and an even more modest Republican takeover of the Senate is the most likely outcome based on polling and long-term trends. But I wouldn’t be shocked by a mini-wave in either direction, with all of the close races going either Republican in a We Want Change And We Don’t Care What It Looks Like streak or Democratic in a You’re All Fucking Nuts rebuke.

They provide a lot of analysis of House and Gubernatorial races as well but I won’t bother excerpting them.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2022, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Argon says:

    Que sera, sera.

    1
  2. SC_Birdflyte says:

    WRT the outcome in Georgia, I can hardly wait until Senator Herschel Walker does something that makes the voters of his state recognize they’ve elected a brain-damaged sock puppet to one of the most important jobs in the nation.

  3. Kurtz says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    Feature not bug.

    6
  4. James Joyner says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: The problem is that, with essentially lockstep parliamentary-style party-line voting, Mitch McConnell will effectively be the Junior Senator from Georgia.

    10
  5. CSK says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes. Walker will do what he’s told to do.

    1
  6. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    The zone has been flooded with late Partisan Republican Polling.
    Nate Silver notes it and claims he is compensating for it.
    It does not appear that RCP is.
    Has Sabato? He doesn’t even mention it.
    He does mention (which I commented on yesterday) Jon Ralston’s prediction in NV based on a massive early voting advantage. But fails to note huge early voting most everywhere else.
    Then there is this…which seems like an absolutely fuqed way to do analysis.

    Basically, we just think the environment is not conducive to Democrats holding the Senate. Could they? Absolutely. But we think the Republicans, despite this cycle’s challenges, could and should win the Senate. So we are leaning enough seats to them to get them to 51…

    Basically…we think Republicans SHOULD win, so we are putting our thumbs on the scale.
    A minute or two on Google and I’m not sure Sabato is still the gold standard in predictions, especially from 2012 on.

    Based entirely on the massive early voter turnout, I think Dems hold the House, barely, and win the Senate 51-49. And then MAGA turns the entire process into a shit-show.
    I believe the GA Senate race is headed for another run-off.

  7. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    @CSK:
    IF the GOP does win the Senate…IF…I don’t believe McConnell will remain the Majority Leader…MAGA is out to get him. I predict Rick Scott takes the helm.
    Which would be stupid for Republicans to do…but they are the party of stupid.

    2
  8. Rick DeMent says:

    OK, I’m going to boldly predict rights here and right now that the Democrats will crush it today picking up seats in both houses and flip 2 governorships and a state chamber or two.

    Why? Because everyone is expecting the opposite and no one gets any accolades for going along with conventional wisdom. Besides thinking about anything else is just too depressing for words.

    20
  9. Tony W says:

    @CSK: Which begs the question – what’s the point of running and serving?

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    Yeah, I will confess that I don’t really trust polls as much as I used to. Which means I have really disengaged from Nate Silver and everyone else in the polling line. I have no prediction. I do note that the pollsters were abuzz with “Newsom is in trouble” when, well, he wasn’t.

    1
  11. Andy says:

    I have no guesses this year for close races or the final composition of the Senate, IMO there is too much uncertainty.

  12. CSK says:

    @Tony W:

    To be a yes man, I suppose. That’s what his backers plan. They want the senate.

  13. Beth says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    To be entirely honest, I’m feeling very doom-y right now. The only bright spot is that should the Republicans win their caucus will be ungovernable. McCarthy seems to be acting like he can control MTG and her loons and be the Speaker without problems. lol, he’ll be Speaker in name only with MTG and Jordan calling the shots.

    McConnell is smart and wiley, but he’s going to have his hands full of loons and idiots. Thiel would own Vance and Masters and they’ll do what he says, not McConnell. Trump would own Walker, Oz, and Tuberville at a minimum. Good luck with that Mitch. I hope you choke.

    I don’t see how McConnell and McCarthy aren’t immediately thrown into an impeachment struggle the second they take power.

    1
  14. DK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I do note that the pollsters were abuzz with “Newsom is in trouble” when, well, he wasn’t.

    And the moment the election was called, the famously ‘liberal media’ immediately memory-holed how they spent a month peddling this phony rightwing propaganda and moved on to the next narrative. Like always.

    I’m old enough to remember when L.A.’s “progressive prosecutor” Gascon was likely to be recalled, according to the ‘liberal media.’ Oops.

    4
  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tony W: My understanding is that even a one term Representative qualifies for the Congressional pension–such as that may be. Hersh’s net worth is abt. $14 million, and it seems his job is making public appearances. Maybe he needs the money?

  16. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Beth:
    I hope this makes you feel a little less doom-y.
    https://twitter.com/Victorshi2020/status/1590054202008817664

  17. Gustopher says:

    My only prediction is that control of the Senate will hinge upon a race too close to call on election night, and that we will get a shitload of conspiracy theories and claims of a stolen election.

    Might be several races.

  18. Beth says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    Goddess I hope that holds.

  19. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Oh, the conspiracy theories about today’s election started weeks ago.

  20. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @Beth:
    I do not think I’ve ever been called a Goddess before.
    ;0)

    3
  21. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    I’ve seen these numbers in a couple places today…not sure how to confirm them.
    But FWIW…

    In Wisconsin the youth vote is at 360% compared to 2018, the Black vote is at 123% compared to 2018, and the woman vote is at 137% compared to 2018.

  22. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    In world-famous Dixville Notch, NH, where the polls have closed and the votes have been counted…
    Hassan (D): 5
    Bolduc (R): 0

    1
  23. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    In 2016, Dixville Notch went 4 for Clinton, 2 for Trump, 1 for Gary Johnson, 1 write-in for Romney. I’m not sure about its predictive power.

  24. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @CSK:
    Sure…but remember…Clinton DID WIN the popular vote by ~3,000,000.

  25. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:
    I hate to be a Gloomy Gus, but of the undecided in NH, 95% favor Bolduc.

  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I do know that there is a definite pattern to authoritarian governments in that they don’t make good decisions in the long term.

    They prioritize loyalty over expertise, capability and competence in subordinates, for instance. This is a fundamentally destabilizing factor.

    One can be slow to change and adapt and be ok. If one refuses to change at all, a nation can end up like Imperial China did, or Imperial Japan almost did, without the Meiji Restoration. Or the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as a Western example.

  27. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    @CSK:
    Fine…be that way…lol
    I will say that I don’t trust this years polling…even Nate Silver says polling is very difficult now.
    And my last point before I drink thru this dumpster-fire of an election night; if you are complaining about the voting process before the polls even close then you probably don’t think you are winning and Republicans are whining their lily white asses off.

  28. CSK says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl:

    I know, I know. I’ve gotten out of the prediction game, since I’m almost invariably wrong.

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    I hate to be a Gloomy Gus, but of the undecided in NH, 95% favor Bolduc.

    Yeah, but in this country at this time, “undecided” is shorthand for “either brain damaged or pretending not to be evil”.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Well, I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I do know that there is a definite pattern to authoritarian governments in that they don’t make good decisions in the long term.

    Unfortunately, the damage they do is time-lagged, and current voters are too stupid to notice. Joe Biden didn’t get us into this economic state, but he’ll be blamed at the polls as if he did. Just like Obama was blamed for what the W administration wrought, and GHW and Clinton were blamed for what the Reagan administration wrought, and…

  31. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: And Dems are outperforming in Dixville Notch, compared to 2016. I think we can all rest easier.

  32. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I decided… I have to let it all go.

    We took the boat across to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The white sand beach (crushed quartz) was deserted except for the seagull that has taken up the point as its territory, but he has gotten used to us dropping by. As always, and the dunes always looks nice, but now with the reeds and grasses taking on fall shading.

    The sun was a wonderful global warming 89 which is far over the record again. The sand was firm and warm as we walked the beach barefoot. We found a flying disk (not frisbee, but yeah) and played with it for a bit. Nice to be able to help clean up the beach AND have fun doing it. It felt like summer even though it should have been shifting toward fall.

    The water was very still, like glass, or as close to glass as the sound could be. Our Sea-Doo Sportster hit about 40 skimming across the Sound back to our bayou. I’ve gotten familiar with the area and can actually get back home without pulling out the phone and using the GPS. It’s hard to go down to trolling speed after doing 40, but a very slow speed helps to get the boat back into the boat lift.

    In a few months we will be taking the drive up to Colorado for snowboarding.

    Clearly, I have to just accept the downfall of our civilization (and my part in it). The last three months have shown me just how truly horrendous 50% of our country has become, and there is just not a dammed thing I can do about it.

    I will miss all this someday. But I hear Croatia is very nice.

    And now, some Peter Gabriel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crSXKglRiYk

    1
  33. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Last I looked at that myth, the vesting period for a congressional pension is 5 years, consequently a one-term representative would qualify .

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Yes. Walker will do what he’s told to do.

    I tried to explain to people in 2008 and 09 that the problem is not bailing out banks. The problem is allowing the country to get into a position in which it needs to bail out banks. The problem isn’t that Republicans vote for someone like Walker who will support their goals. The problem is that they need to find people like Walker to vote for them.

  35. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:
    Bob, Bob, Bob….. you intended to say NOT qualified .

    (alas, no edit button)

    1
  36. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    Walker will do what he’s told to do.

    Will he?

    I’m not saying that he’s going to develop an independent streak and become the Maverick From Georgia if elected, I just think that the hardest part will be getting him to show up.

    He seems to be enjoying the campaign, where people tell him he is great and cheer for him (other than his kid, and half the electorate, but a guy like him can ignore inconvenient bits), but I see no evidence that he actually wants to do any of the Senator stuff. He seems like a man who gets bored easily.

    I expect “Where’s Hershel?” would be a common question.

    1
  37. Modulo Myself says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    I feel like we are the point where we are talking about Republican voters as if they lived 150 years ago and can’t be judged, or whatever you want to call it, by today’s standards. It’s something else. I can’t say what I would do in Nazi Germany or in America before the Civil War, but I do know what I have done in my life regarding politics and it certainly wasn’t voting for Republicans.

    1
  38. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Herschel appears to be losing, at this point.

  39. Beth says:

    GA, NC and OH? Blue by a lot? Is this real life?

    1
  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Yeah, I figured that out without your correction. On the other hand, Walker would qualify as a Senator, so my rationale for his motivation would still hold.

    (For some reason, WordPress is trying to finish my sentences. It’s very annoying. 🙁

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Modulo Myself: “it certainly wasn’t voting for Republicans.”

    Which probably makes you a better person than I am but, sadly, isn’t a high bar to jump.

    On the other hand, I did grow up when the “radical left” was actually radical and left.

  42. Beth says:

    @Beth:

    Imma go ahead and call it for doom

    1
  43. Jax says:

    @Beth: We were gonna lose either way. Even if we won, they’d have burned the house down, maybe literally.

    If anybody wants an example of how corrupt our voting populace is, Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton are apparently going to win again in Texas. JFC, Texas, WTF?! Oh….right, right, it’s the R, not the corruption, the freezing to death, or the school shootings that matter.