Perron Campaigns Update: Handicapping the U.S. Midterm Elections
By Dr. Louis Perron

eHezi Campaign Trail, Governance, History, People, Political Analysis, Politics Leave a Comment

Dr. Louis Perron

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — May 3, 2022 — In about two months, American voters will head to the polls for the midterm elections. The entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate will be elected. This said, the most important politician that has historically been influencing the outcome of those elections is not on the ballot: the incumbent president, Joe Biden.

Midterm elections take place two years after the presidential election, and it is in the nature of the American system and its checks and balances that the party of the incumbent president usually loses seats. In fact, the approval rating of the incumbent president has been one of the best predictors for the outcome of the midterm elections. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump all lost their majority in the House of Representatives during their first midterm elections. It is brutal and history is not promising for Democrats. At the time of writing, the realclearpolitics polling average has 42% of the voters approve of the job Joe Biden is doing while 55% disapprove. On the critical issue of inflation, his job approval is even worse: 32% approve of the job Joe Biden does on inflation versus 68% who disapprove.

But what if Democrats were to defy history?

Indeed, Democrats seem to have gained some momentum. This is noteworthy because it is rare for the incumbent party at this stage of the electoral cycle. In the average generic vote for Congress, Democrats are now slightly ahead of the Republicans: 44.6% say they would vote for the Democrat, 44.5% say that they would vote for the Republican. American voters do of course not vote for a party but for an individual candidate in their local district when electing Congress. Also, because of gerrymandering, Democrats would need a bigger lead in the generic vote to be able to maintain their razor-thin majority in the House. But the trend is still remarkable, as it is the first time in basically a year that Democrats are in the lead.

What’s the reason?

It is definitely not because Joe Biden is doing (in my view) an outstanding job on Ukraine. It is also not because he is getting quite significant legislation passed despite a small majority and hyper polarization reigning in Washington D.C. Just because a law with the word inflation in the title is being passed, doesn’t mean that voters feel a major improvement on that front. And more generally speaking, voters rarely turn out in droves to say thank you.

The real reason is because with the FBI executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago (and the decision of overturning Roe vs. Wade) the spotlight is back on Donald Trump. And with Republicans instinctively defending Trump against the FBI before knowing the facts, they look like a freak show. In the U.S. system, the party that is out of the White House is always a bit disoriented. As a result, they tend to focus on their last leader. And Donald Trump obviously has a very enthusiastic base, which is why his candidates performed well in the Republican primaries. But do you know what? Trump’s base was already really enthusiastic and mobilized in the last election, when Trump was on the ballot himself, but still came in second.

In politics, your biggest strength is often also your biggest weakness. As a result, some of the candidates the Republican base has chosen seem not very viable general election candidates. In fact, it reminds me of 2010: a good year for Republicans, but their candidates (notably for the Senate) are too extreme to perform in a general election.

Despite all the talk about polarization, there still are independents in the U.S., and they watch the news about the FBI and Mar-a-Lago as well. And it turns them off. In 2016, Donald Trump got elected with a minority of the votes because independents gave him the benefit of the doubt over Hillary Clinton. After that, he lost the House of Representatives, then the White House, then the Senate for Republicans.

It is still two months to go until the election. I think that if the attention during that time will be on inflation and the Democrats, Republicans will have a very good election night. If the focus is on Trump and MAGA Republicans, however, Democrats have a chance to keep the Senate and limit the losses in the House.

Do you want to discuss how I can help your next election, referendum, advocacy or lobbying campaign? Get in touch (lperron@perroncampaigns.com, +41 43 488 37 20).

News, Speeches and Publications:

  • My latest piece about Boris Johnson and the “Exit of Mr. Brexit” was picked up by the financial news website ValueWalk. You can find it here.
  • My article about effective lobbying was published in the French newspaper L’Opinion. You can find it here.
  • I’m regularly posting all my media appearances and comments on LinkedIn and recently connected with my 13’000th contact! You can join my network here.
  • I am tweeting out two takeaways about campaigns every day to my more than 10’000 followers. Why aren’t you one of them? You can follow me @dr_perron.
  • Do you need quick advice managing a crisis or handling an upcoming interview? Have you been thinking about running? I offer coaching calls where you can pick my brain on virtually anything related to politics.
  • Do you want some firepower for your next campaigns? Check out my English blog at www.campaignanalysis.com. My last piece was about leaks and how presidents ideally deal with them.

© Perron Campaigns, 2022.

eHeziPerron Campaigns Update: Handicapping the U.S. Midterm Elections
By Dr. Louis Perron

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