Senate polls swing toward Republicans as economy worsens

With two and a half weeks to go until Election Day, polls and voting models show Republicans on track to regain a majority in the evenly divided Senate as Americans turn against President Biden and Democrats over the state of the economy.

Republicans need a net win of just one seat to regain control of the upper chamber of Congress after two years from the outside looking in, despite holding the same number of seats as Democrats.

As of Friday, the website RealClearPolitics had the GOP flipping Senate races in three states into their column: Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

In the Grand Canyon State, RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Democratic incumbent and former astronaut Mark Kelly in freefall. After leading Republican Blake Masters by an average of 6.2 percentage points in late September, Kelly’s average poll lead has fallen to 2.5% – and his average share of support has plummeted from 49.3% to 46.5 %. With the RCP saying the polls are underestimating the Republicans by two percentage points, the race is a virtual toss up heading into November.

In Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker appears to be recovering from the vicious abortion scandal that has plagued his campaign. The RCP had incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock leading by just 1 percentage point in its adjusted polling average as of Friday.

Twelve days ago, Warnock had opened up an average spread of 5.2 percentage points on Walker. With both candidates averaging below 50% support — 47.6% for Warnock, 45.2% for Walker — Real Clear Politics predicts the race will go to a December 6th runoff. In that scenario, with Liberal candidate Chase Oliver out of it. race, RCP suggests the remaining voters will vote heavily for Walker and put the former Heisman Trophy winner over the top.

A Senate poll shows Republicans winning 3 seats.

A Senate poll shows Republicans winning three seats.

One poll predicts that Republicans will take 219 seats in the House.

One poll predicts that Republicans will take 219 seats in the House.

In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general, has been running ahead of Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in the RCP average since mid-September. Laxalt’s current average lead was 1.2 percentage points as of Friday.

Meanwhile, Republicans increasingly look set to defend their two most vulnerable open seats. In Ohio, Republican JD Vance has consistently voted ahead of Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and currently leads the RCP average by 2.3 percentage points. And in the closely watched Senate race in Pennsylvania, Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz quickly edged out Democrat John Fetterman amid questions about the health of the Commonwealth’s lieutenant governor.

“Was a little skeptical of the GOP polls uptick before, but I think the evidence for it is now pretty compelling,” tweeted Nate Silver, founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight. Friday“and if anything, I’m more bearish on Democratic chances than our model is.”

Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on August 5.
Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on August 5.
LM Otero/AP

Silver’s latest statistical analysis of the Nov. 8 midterms gives Democrats a 58% chance of retaining control of the Senate, down from 71% last month — and has a GOP sweep of both chambers (41%) as more likely than a divided Congress (38%).

“[T]there has been a steady move toward the GOP in our model over the past few weeks,” Silver wrote Friday, later adding: “[T]his forecast has moved in a predictable fashion, with a long, slow and steady climb toward the Democrats over the summer, and now a consistent shift back toward the Republicans.”

The GOP’s turnaround is also visible in national generic vote polling. The RCP average shows Republicans leading by an average of 3.1 percentage points, their biggest lead on the metric since mid-June — while FiveThirtyEight had Republicans narrowly ahead in its generic polling average for the first time since early August.

The swing toward Republicans has followed the release of a series of polls showing that Americans fear for the state of their money.

Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker speaks during a campaign stop on October 11.
Megan Varner/AP

A staggering 93% of registered voters said in a Morning Consult/Politico poll that they are “concerned” about inflation. The survey showed Democrats up 1 on the generic ballot, but a New York Times-Siena College poll, which put Republicans up 4, found the economy and inflation to be the top issues for a combined 44% of likely voters.

Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll found that only 31% of Americans agreed that Biden “gave enough attention to the issues most important to your family,” with 85% calling inflation an “extreme” or “very” important matter for the government to address. This poll also showed Republicans up 4% on the generic ballot.

The latest Emerson College poll released Friday showed Republicans leading Democrats 46% to 41% on the generic ballot after the two parties were locked in a 45%-45% deadlock in September. This poll found that 44% of Americans felt the economy was the most important issue for their vote, with access to abortion the most important issue for only 12% of registered voters.

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