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Another Wave Breadcrumb? New York Special Election Goes...Very Red

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

If you're looking for tea leaves ahead of the midterm elections, you don't need to look very hard. Look at current events, look at electoral outcome data points, and look at the polls. They all point in the same direction. Let's examine a few examples of each. On the first front, nothing is more important to voters than inflation and the economy, and yesterday's key March inflation number was a blowout: 


The White House talking point is to blame all of this on Vladimir Putin. The sources of historic inflation are myriad, and there's no single factor to blame in isolation. But it must be said that these inflation spikes American consumers are facing started long before Putin's invasion of Ukraine (and right around Joe Biden's inauguration), and are substantially worse than Europe's inflation rate: 


That chart was tweeted in response to a truly desperate White House talking point attempting to equate Republican critics of Biden's inflation with Putin himself. Insulting and ridiculous. Remember, this president and nearly every single Democrat in Congress wanted to add $5 trillion in additional new spending, on top of all the insanely elevated new spending, in the middle of horrible inflation. The R-word has been thrown around. It's not a crazy question to ask whether Joe Manchin single-handedly prevented even worse inflationary pain for the American people (Manchin is also decidedly unimpressed by the "Putin price hike" buck-passing). Add in crime concerns, escalating border chaos – which is reportedly roiling the White House – and a trail of other incompetence and failures, and the stage is set for a punishing cycle for the party in power. This ain't gonna cut it: 


Which brings us to the second aforementioned metric. We recently told you about a GOP victory in Kenosha County, Wisconsin (speaking of crime concerns), marking the first time that local office had gone red in decades. Other local elections also offered hopeful signs for Republicans in the Badger State. In New York, a Long Island special state assembly election happened last week and the result wasn't necessarily significant on its face – a Republican-held a red seat. But margins matter

GOP +8 in 2018, GOP +18 in 2020 (Trump +5), and per Ballotpedia (nearly a week after the election), the special election margin was GOP +32. All the caveats about turnout in unusual elections apply, and the margin could shift as New York's endless vote-counting process drags on, but this falls within a pattern of Republican gains in both local and major statewide races leading up to the national contests in 2022. Finally, there is polling data. It's been dreadful for Biden and the Democrats for quite some time, and that continues to be true in the latest batch. I'll leave you with this critical number

Democrats need to generate all the momentum they can muster. The latest ABC News/Ipsos poll shows a yawning enthusiasm gap for the party ahead of the midterms, with numbers that look even worse upon closer inspection. Looking at those most and least eager to vote this year tells an important aspect of the story. Among Republicans, 55% say they are very enthusiastic about voting in the midterms, compared to just 35% of Democrats -- a number nearly identical to strong enthusiasm among independents (34%)...Meanwhile, 13% of Democrats say they are not at all enthusiastic about voting -- a segment of voters, of course, that will be hardest to draw off the sidelines. Only 5% of Republicans say the same, an encouraging sign for GOP strategists...


If Republicans maintain a strong enthusiasm edge and continue to lead with independents, and Democrats are demoralized, that's how waves are made. 


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