When the 2022 midterm primary cycle kicked off in March, Democrats were being battered over inflation and economic uncertainty with a projected “Red Wave” poised to sweep Republicans into a Senate majority and to as much as a 30-seat hammer-hold in the House.
But GOP campaigns across the country were apparently unprepared for how the U.S. Supreme Court’s June repeal of Roe v. Wade would galvanize women and young voters, resuscitating Democrats’ previously dim odds of winning the Senate and maintaining control of the House.
Now, as the final two months unfold before the Nov. 8 elections, Republicans need to refocus on economic anxiety while Democrats must address “kitchen table” concerns and not rely on post-Roe angst, concluded panelists during a Sept. 8 Brookings Institute virtual forum.
“I wonder if Democrats aren’t making the same mistakes” in investing too much energy on one issue and being unprepared to pivot should events change the discussion, said panelist Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William Buckley Jr.
The left-leaning Brookings Institute is among political operations and news organizations assessing the fallout from primaries—three remain, all Sept. 13—and, in the week after Labor Day, were canvassing pundits and analysts for insights on trends that could influence how the last 70 days before Election Day pan out.
Panelists agreed that broad national issues—such as abortion, the economy, foreign policy—have greater influence in statewide Senate races than at the congressional district level where local issues are often the determining factor in many races.
“I think Democrats can [have success on abortion issue] in the Senate races, not sure if they can do that in the House races,” Center for Effective Public Management founding director Elaine Kamarck said.
Such issues could deliver Democrats victories in Senate races, including in Pennsylvania, but won’t be compelling factors in most House races, she said, projecting Republicans will take the House in November.