Recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey provide additional clarity on the position of the national environment heading into the 2022 Senate elections, and although there are still a range of outcomes for how the midterms might play out, Republicans currently appear to have an advantage.
Virginia and New Jersey’s statewide races on Nov. 2 were the latest in a string of worrying elections for Democrats. In Virginia, a state President Joe Biden carried by 10.1 points in 2020, Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe by 1.9 points to win the governorship, while Republicans also came out ahead in the races for lieutenant governor by 1.5 points and attorney general by 0.8 points. In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy clinched re-election against Republican businessman Jack Ciattarelli by a surprisingly narrow 3.2 points, similarly falling short of Biden's 15.9-point win last November.
Across all four races, the Democratic candidates underperformed Biden by an average of 11.9 points. Looking only at the two governors’ elections, McAuliffe and Murphy underperformed Biden by an average of 12.4 points.
Republicans have also been seeing success down-ballot. Both federal races held on Nov. 2, a pair of special elections to fill vacant House seats in Ohio’s 11th and 15th districts, saw the Democratic candidate run behind Biden’s 2020 margin by approximately 3 points. Republicans also made substantial gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, and according to data compiled by Daily Kos Elections, other recent special elections for state legislative offices point to a swing of 4 or 5 points toward Republicans. When compared to the relative whompings in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races, these are slightly more encouraging numbers for Democrats,...