The government of the United States has three branches, The Executive, the Judicial and the Legislative. The Executive Branch is made up of the President and the various departments and divisions that fall under his authority. The Judicial Branch interprets the Constitution and its application to all phases of American living. Federal Judges and Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the US Senate.
Where then does that Senate figure into the overall equation? They are part of the third branch, the Legislative Branch. The 100 Senators, two from each state, combine with the 435 Members of the House of Representatives to make up what is commonly referred to as the US Congress. All laws in the United States and funds for any federal expenditures must be approved by both the House and the Senate and ultimately signed off by the President of the United States.
That last part is why it is so essential to any President that his political party is in control of Congress. Obama had two years of Democrat control. Trump had two years of Republican control. Democrats have controlled Congress and the resulting agenda during Joe Biden’s first two years. Huge government expenditures and an energy policy that punishes fossil fuels are two of the primary reasons for the current runaway inflation. If the Democrats remain in control of Congress after the November elections, one can safely assume more of the same.
It is with that in mind that the House of Representatives will almost surely be controlled by a Republican majority in the new year. The left-wing media, while acknowledging a probable GOP takeover, suggests it is likely to be by a very small margin, perhaps as few as a four-seat majority. Conservative publications are gushing about the chances for a red wave, meaning a huge victory for Republicans next Tuesday night. Could it be seventy seats? Anything is possible, but that number is unlikely. A fair estimate is probably somewhere in between the two extreme scenarios. Let’s peg it at 34 seats for the GOP. Kevin McCarthy is likely to be Speaker with a comfortable majority come January.
Less clear has been the likely outcome in the US Senate. Of the 100 Senate seats, 34 are up for election in 2022. Twenty of those are currently Republican seats and fourteen are currently held by Democrats. Further confusing the math is the fact that six sitting Republicans are not running for reelection. One Democrat is also choosing to retire.
The existing US Senate has 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents that both caucus with the Democrats. That means on partisan matters it is a 50/50 tie, with the Vice President of the United States serving as the tie-breaking vote when necessary. Advantage Democrats. That 50/50 breakdown also means that if Republicans pick up even one seat this November, they are in control of the Senate.
Predictions have been all over the board. A couple of weeks ago the consensus seemed to be that Democrats had about a 65% chance of keeping control of the Senate. Bad polling may have contributed to that number, but a hemorrhaging economy has the average American wondering if they want to keep the status quo. As election day draws close, it appears the answer may be no. In the past week the chances of Chuck Schumer remaining as Majority leader shrunk to 53%, then 51% and as of this writing, some are saying there is a 51% chance Mitch McConnell will be setting the agenda for the Senate in January.
So which is it?
Let’s break it down by the 34 Senate seats actually up for grabs. Most are not particularly competitive. In Schumer’s New York, for example, the Senator polls at ten points ahead of his competitor. The last time he ran he garnered more than 70% of the vote, so it is a safe bet he stays. Likewise in Idaho, Republicans poll eighteen points ahead. In Arkansas, the GOP leads by sixteen. Alabama and Alaska are both safely in the Republican column. California and Oregon will both have a Democrat represent them for another six years. In fact, when you break down every seat up for election this year, all but five or six seem very predictable.
The question of control of the United States Senate comes down to five states, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Arizona and Georgia seats are both held by Democrats seeking reelection. Ohio and Pennsylvania are both currently Republican seats but each Senator is retiring this year, throwing them both wide open. Wisconsin is currently held by Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
Before I share with you my predictions, let me share with you my qualifications to do so. I’m a trained Political Scientist (BA), I successfully ran for office twice, and I’ve been observing and commenting on politics via talk radio since last century. My track record includes correctly predicting the electoral outcome in 50 out of 51 (50 states plus DC) during the 2020 election.
Repeating my earlier point, the Republicans need to pick up a net gain of only one to take control of the US Senate. Of the five states mentioned above that appear to be keys to the outcome, Wisconsin is probably the easiest to predict. Senator Johnson showed some trouble early on, but has taken the lead in most credible polls and has the momentum going into Tuesday. Expect him to keep his seat.
Senator Pat Toomey’s retirement from his seat in Pennsylvania led the GOP to nominate television doctor and celebrity, Dr. Oz. Complicating matters a bit, Oz isn’t actually from Pennsylvania and received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Despite initial skepticism about his candidacy, Oz seems to be putting distance between himself and the Democratic nominee, Lt. Governor Fetterman. Fetterman suffered a stroke in May of this year and during a recent televised debate showed some serious impairment. Despite their hesitance about Oz, don’t expect the people of Pennsylvania to send a mentally compromised individual to represent them in the United States Senate. Dr. Oz will win and the seat will remain Republican.
Ohio may be the Democrats’ best opportunity to flip a seat. Senator Rob Portman is calling it quits and the Republican nominee is JD Vance. Portman won his race six years ago by nearly 21 points but Vance, though leading, is only up by about three. Anything could happen, particularly depending on how votes are counted in the large metro areas but expect the GOP to hold the seat.
One Wild Card race may be Nevada where the Democrat incumbent is polling with a lead so small it is within the margin of error. Some polls even have Senator Cortez Masto losing. But Nevada is famous for magically turning out the union vote at the last minute and keeping the Democrats in their seat. Many prognosticators are calling the race a toss-up. Expect the unions to do their thing, again, and this seat to remain blue.
Arizona Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly is completing his first (partial) term. He is the former NASA astronaut and husband to Gabby Giffords, the Congresswoman who was shot at a small shopping center political event several years back. He is generally well-liked in Arizona. Republican challenger Blake Masters has put together a compelling campaign and may benefit from the Arizona Governor’s race where Republican Kari Lake appears poised to win. Some are calling it a toss-up but if forced to make a prediction, this one stays Democrat and Kelly returns to Washington in January.
Assuming my predictions above are correct, it means no seats will have been flipped by either party with only the race in Georgia left to review. Ralph Warnock won a special election a couple of years back, beating an amazingly bad Republican nominee and surprising many by making the Georgia seat blue. There were several mitigating circumstances, including a runoff election and the fact Georgia somehow registered an astounding 800,000 new voters in the two months between the general election and the runoff.
Warnock’s opponent is the greatest football player in the history of the state, Herschel Walker. Despite questionable qualifications, Walker easily dispatched other Republicans in the primary. Since that time he has faced a barrage of criticism including accusations of lying, of opposing abortion despite allegedly having paid for more than one and of promoting family values while failing to publicly acknowledge some of his own offspring. If you are from the south, however, you know that football is far more important than tawdry accusations. Walker has not only stood up to the constant hammering, but he has also pulled ahead in most polls and appears to have the momentum going into election day. Georgia was the state that lost the Senate majority for the Republicans in 2020. This time around Walker will win and give the GOP the one seat they need to take back the Senate.
Final count when the new Senate convenes in Washington in January 2023: Republicans 51, Democrats 47 and Independents 2.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist with The Washington Times.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.