Is the ‘Red Wave’ Turning Into a ‘Red Ripple’?

Cook’s Political Report surmises that the “Red Wave is Looking More Like a ‘Red Ripple.” Indeed, with about 10 weeks to go before the midterm elections, the picture is not quite as rosy for Republicans as it was a month ago.

What’s changed? Structurally, nothing. But the election dynamics are now being driven by a drumbeat of negative media coverage portraying the GOP as anti-woman, anti-black, and anti-common sense. There’s also a healthy dose of anti-Trump hysteria even though the former president isn’t on the ballot.

And some Republican candidates have self-inflicted wounds that are dragging down their campaigns as the media gleefully piles on. No, it’s not entirely the media’s fault. Republicans chose these candidates, after all, and if they’re failing they only have themselves to blame.

But the “turnaround” by Democrats is almost entirely a media-generated event. Biden’s “accomplishments” are coming at a painful price; inflation is destroying the ability of Americans to save, and the price of food and fuel will never, ever be back to where it was a year ago. And that’s significant because most Americans are making almost the same amount of money now as they were making when Biden’s inflation began.

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The average American is falling behind as their wages don’t buy as much as they did a few months ago or certainly a year ago.

It’s Democrats and the biased media using smoke and mirrors to give the illusion of Biden’s accomplishments. This has led to a narrowing of the GOP lead in several races and has tipped some toss-up races toward the Democrats.

Democrats now hold a small lead in the generic ballot.


On the day of the Dobbs decision, Republicans led polls of the generic congressional ballot, or polls that ask Americans which party they plan to support for Congress, by 2.3 points, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average. But since then, Democrats have gained 2.7 points, and on Wednesday, they hold a small lead in these polls.

This is unusual, given that the polls usually get worse, not better, for the president’s party as a midterm election draws closer. That could be a sign that 2022 could be the rare midterm that bucks the usual trend of the president’s party getting a “shellacking.” And if so, Democrats may have the Supreme Court to thank. Correlation isn’t causation, but given the precise timing (Republicans overperformed in special elections on June 7 and June 14, then Democrats started their hot streak on June 28), it seems quite likely that the Dobbs decision is responsible for the shift in the political environment. In other words, it could be akin to other major news events that turned midterm elections on their heads: former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, and the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent war on terror in 2002.

Or inflation may persist and fuel prices, although down from $5 a gallon, may stay way too high for most people’s liking.  There is still great dissatisfaction with the direction of the country with Americans saying by a 70-30 margin that the U.S. is on the “wrong track.”

But none of this is a guarantee of Democratic success in the midterms. As quickly as those developments broke, others — perhaps better for Republicans — can replace them. The polls could still move away from Democrats, in keeping with historical precedent. Of course, events thus far have suggested we aren’t in a typical midterm situation; for instance, maybe the switch from registered-voter polls to likely-voter polls won’t benefit Republicans as much as expected because Democrats are so fired up. But there are still two and a half months until Election Day. And while it’s hard to deny that Democrats have the momentum right now, it’s an open question of whether they can sustain it.

There is plenty of evidence that the Democrat’s recent resurgence is, at least, partly a mirage and that, by Election Day 10 weeks from now, Republicans will be celebrating. The margin of victory may not be as historic as some were predicting in June, but it will be enough to prevent the Democrats from claiming success.

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