House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spent the last few weeks playing “The Last Hurrah”’s Frank Skeffington, careening around the nation in the waning days of her final, sad, losing campaign, bracing to finish her congressional career in the minority.
The California Democrat has good reason to be manic.
The issues that about 70% of voters consider most important — the economy, crime, border security — are the same issues on which voters most trust Republicans and are most skeptical of Team Biden. Moreover, there is a sense of gathering economic gloom among voters. Across a range of surveys, between 60% and 80% of survey respondents believe that we are already in a recession.
Republicans have an advantage on voter enthusiasm and clear momentum in most if not all House and Senate races. While the Democrats will spend more this cycle, Republicans have had enough cash to compete in the closing weeks. It is important to remember that the law of diminishing returns is especially true in political campaigns. After the first dozen or so ads, people stop paying attention.
Given the durable Republican advantage among likely voters (about 7 percentage points on average) on the generic ballot test, it seems safe to assume that the Republicans will win the national House vote by at least 2 or 3 percentage points. That suggests they will win about 230 seats.
The Senate contests look no better for the Democrats.
In Pennsylvania, if the Republicans had a stronger candidate, this race would already be over. That said, the GOP’s Mehmet Oz has run a competent campaign, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has been unable to mount any kind of defense of his awful record. Pennsylvania has voted more Republican than the nation as a whole for the last few cycles and will do so again. Mr. Oz ultimately wins this race.
In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson has discovered the right issue and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ weak spot — crime. He knows how to win close elections and help his ticket mates. He pulled Donald Trump to victory in Wisconsin in 2016. While Mr. Trump won by 22,000 votes, Mr. Johnson won by 75,000 votes. Mr. Johnson will win and will pull Tim Michels to victory in the governor’s race.
In Ohio, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is going to win his race for reelection by 20 points. While Ohio has never elected a legitimate conservative (no, Rob Portman doesn’t count) and there will be some ticket splitting, GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance wins, and it probably won’t be particularly close.
In Georgia, in the wake of the spectacular self-immolation that has been the Stacey Abrams campaign, Gov. Brian Kemp is going to win his race by 10 or 12 points. While the potential for ticket-splitting is greatest and would be most consequential, it is very unlikely that Senate candidate Herschel Walker will run more than 10 points behind Mr. Kemp.
Nevada has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, the Republicans have made inroads with Hispanics in the state, and the formidable Reid machine is no more. In addition, the Republican candidate for governor, Joe Lombardo, has run a solid race and will win. That all helps Adam Laxalt become the next U.S. senator from Nevada.
In Arizona, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will win her race by 5 or 6 points. It seems unlikely that anyone prepared to vote for Ms. Lake will vote for Sen. Mark Kelly. Blake Masters wins, despite his uneven campaign.
The Senate races in Washington and New Hampshire remain too close to call.
At the state level, there are at least four gubernatorial races that may produce surprises.
Lee Zeldin has run an extraordinary race and has captured the anxiety of New Yorkers, especially those in New York City, about the crime, violence and lawlessness that has settled over the Big Apple. Mr. Zeldin may win a race in which he trailed by 18 points as recently as Sept. 1.
In Michigan, Tudor Dixon, essentially ignored by the national party, also discovered the power of the issue of crime (apparently, if you’re scared, not much else matters). Ms. Dixon may win a race in which she trailed by 16 points as recently as 60 days ago.
In New Mexico, Mark Ronchetti also has raised questions about the incumbent governor’s commitment to law and order (as well as her general competence), and he will win.
Finally, in Oregon, Christine Drazan will become the first Republican governor in Oregon in 35 years. Her campaign has offered up a steady dose of concern about crime, which is, of course, especially powerful given the immediate example of lawless Portland.
In short, after the election, Republicans will control at least 230 votes in the House and 53 in the Senate and hold at least 32 governorships. Whether all that leads to any positive, durable results is another matter entirely.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, co-hosts “The Unregulated Podcast.” He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.