A few weeks ago, it seemed almost assured that a 'red wave' was guaranteed for the midterms. Some of the major factors supporting this forecast were sky-high inflation, a slowing economy, legislative paralysis, and historical precedent which typically sees the incumbent party experiencing huge losses.
While the odds still favor the Republicans retaking control of both Houses of Congress, they have dropped for a variety of reasons:
In states like Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, Republicans have chosen to nominate the more right-wing candidate, while Democrats have a more, moderate nominee. In all 3 states, the Republican is running in their first election which often doesn't work out, while these are swing states which means that the independent vote matters even more.
In Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz is leading Lt. Governor Fetterman by a wide margin and especially among the white working class. In Georgia, Senator Warnock also has a narrow lead over Herschel Walker who has a history of controversial statements. There is a similar dynamic in Arizona where Senator and former astronaut Mark Kelly has cultivated an independent brand, while his opponent, Blake Masters has a history of provocative statements, including calling for the privatization of Social Security which is unpopular among seniors.
Supreme Court + Legislative Breakthroughs
The biggest factor may be the Dobbs decision which has resulted in independents moving back into the Democratic fold. In fact, much of the polling weakness for Democrats and President Joe Biden is due to independents, dropping their support for him.
However, the Supreme Court decision is a game-changer. Maybe, the clearest evidence of this is in Kansas where a ballot measure proposing extreme restrictions on abortion failed by 80-20. This is a sign that voters may penalize Republicans at the ballot box for the Supreme Court overreach and positions held by many Republicans.
Already, the generic ballot is showing that Democrats are now favored by more voters than Republicans.
There has also been some marginally positive news about the economy. In essence, the Federal Reserve has been tightening for six months, yet the economy has remained quite resilient as evidenced by the recent jobs report.
A few months ago, the 'soft landing' scenario seemed like a pipedream. It's still a slim possibility, but the odds have definitely increased as leading, inflationary pressures have abated, while measures like employment and consumer spending continue to be strong.