Conservative victories at the Supreme Court may not be enough keep Mitch McConnell the Senate minority leader. The Roe v. Wade draft leak in May shocked the PredictIt balance of power market. The price of a Republican sweep of Congress dropped by seven cents, and Democratic markets rose five cents. Prices steadied but unambiguously favored Republicans to regain control of the Senate.
After the Supreme Court’s final week of decisions, those markets became more uncertain. The Supreme Court released rulings that delivered important conservative victories. They included:
- Allowing prayer in public schools
- Leaving abortion regulations to the state
- Allowing religious schools to receive federal funds
- Reducing state courts’ abilities to uphold gun ownership restrictions
- Reducing the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions
Although there were cases with outcomes favorable to liberals, the conservative victories were on hot-button topics like guns, abortion, and religion. These are decades-old flash points with far-reaching consequences on issues that voters care about.
Consequently, Democrats are fired up for the midterm elections, and moderates are looking for balance in their government. The price of a Republican House and Senate dropped from about 76 cents to a low of 60 cents. The price of a Republican House and Democratic Senate rose from 18 cents to a high of 36 cents. The prices have leveled out at about 63 cents and 34 cents respectively.
So, Mitch McConnell is still favored to regain his leadership position in the Senate. But there’s a chance Chuck Schumer will remain the Senate minority leader.
Chuck Schumer May Not Remain Senate Minority Leader
There are a few voting patterns that favor Democrats in the 2022 Senate races. FiveThirtyEight reports that voters tend to like “some sort of balance.” Voters tend to want one party to counterbalance the other across branches of government.
Individual differences also matter more in Senate races than House races. A reasonable candidate has a better chance of beating a perceived extremist. So, Senate races with a Republican who supported the January 6 insurrectionists or QAnon could steer votes to Democratic candidates.
Senate races also can’t be gerrymandered like House races can. House districts can be redrawn to favor one political party. Senate races can’t be gerrymandered without creating new states. (Nevada and both Dakotas were party of gerrymandering schemes to secure the Senate for Republicans during the 1800s.) This removes key barriers that may exist in districts in certain states.
However, depending on Republicans to lose races is not an election strategy. Republicans also have several important factors in their favor that could make Mitch McConnell Senate majority leader again.
Historical Voting Patterns Favor Republican Senate
Republicans have important factors in their favor, too. The president’s party typically loses congressional seats in the midterms. Reasons vary from lower turnout from the president’s supporters to voters being unimpressed with or hostile to the incumbent party. President Biden’s low approval rating does few favors for Democrats fighting for House and Senate seats.
Issue ownership is a major barrier for Democrats to overcome, too. Republicans are viewed as fiscally conservative, and they’re pouncing on rising inflation and economic issues. That perception could sway enough voters to flip the Senate to the Republicans and make Chuck Schumer the Senate minority leader again.
But the most basic obstacle is how close the Senate is. It’s already 50-50 with two conservative Democrats. One Republican victory could give Mitch McConnell the Senate majority leader position back.
The midterms are going to be close, and the consequences could be far-reaching. Voter choices will have implications for key issues, like the January 6 insurrection and hearings, the implications of a conservative Supreme Court, and the propagation of the Big Lie.
If nothing else, it’ll be a useful barometer for the odds on the next presidential election.