Republicans' Best Case Scenario for the Midterms

With exactly four months until the midterms, it is still the Republican Party who is expected to come out on top in November.

Historically, the party controlling the White House is the one that loses the most seats in the first midterm election of its administration, a fact that doesn't bode well for President Joe Biden.

With rising inflation, record-breaking gas prices and Biden's continuously low approval ratings, it has been long predicted that the Democrats will see particularly heavy losses this year, raising the potential of them losing majority power of both the House and the Senate to the GOP.

However, there have been significant developments just in the past few weeks which may drastically alter how people vote, including the ongoing January 6 hearings surrounding Donald Trump, and the Supreme Court vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, triggering abortion bans and severe restriction in several states across the country.

gop changes midterms
Stickers reading I voted today sit on a table at a polling location during midterm primary elections on June 14, 2022 in Summerville, South Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty Images

With several weeks still to go before the polls open, a number of experts have suggested what the realistic best case scenario for the GOP is, given the current political and economic climate.

Sean Freeder, an assistant professor of political science at the University of North Florida, suggested that out of more than 450 congressional elections, only around six to 10 Senate races and 30-40 congressional House seats are competitive.

While Freeder expects the GOP to easily regain control of the House, it may be more difficult for the party to take the Senate because of what he calls "a slate of weak Republican candidates" such as Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker in Georgia, and hopefuls in Arizona and Wisconsin.

"It will ultimately come down to framing by each party. Democrats want this election to be a referendum on Trump and the Dobbs decision. Republicans want this election to be a referendum on Biden and the economy," Freeder told Newsweek.

"Best case scenario for Republicans: Young and/or leftist voters, disillusioned, stay home, and independents focus on inflation and the concern of a looming recession. Republicans sweep the winnable Senate seats, giving them 54-46 control of the Senate, and a 40 seat advantage in the House.

"It would then be virtually impossible for Democrats to then pass any major legislation in the period prior to the 2024 election."

Dr. Bernard Tamas, associate professor of political science at Valdosta State University, also suggested that the best case scenario for Republicans would be winning around 50 seats in the House, but only gain around four or five seats in the Senate.

"Flipping 10 seats in the Senate seems out of reach, which means that the Republicans are unlikely to gain a filibuster proof majority," Tamas told Newsweek.

"Since the Republicans tend to vote as a bloc (much more than Democrats), and since having a total of 60 seats in the Senate seems unlikely, there might not be that much difference between the Republicans doing either moderately well or extremely well against the Democrats."

However, Tamas suggested it may still be too difficult to predict how the overturning of Roe V. Wade will influence voters by the time of the midterms, despite polls suggesting a majority of Americans disagree with the decision.

"This is partially because we haven't faced a situation quite like this before, and partially because we don't know what the abortion-related politics will look like in November," he said.

"Midterm elections are heavily influenced by turnout. Anger drives up turnout, and Republicans were the angrier group up until the Dobbs decision was announced."

Dawn Teele, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University's SNF Agora Institute, believes "big symbolic wins" for people who have expressed anti-abortion views in the wake of Roe W. Wade—such as Gov Greg Abbot in Texas, Walker in Georgia, and J.D Vance in Ohio, all of whom have been endorsed by Trump—would be considered a success for the GOP.

However, David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati, believed that the best case scenario for the Republicans is a "triumph of mundane frustrations" in which people decide to vote for issues other than abortion.

"Inflation. Gas prices. Concerns about the strength of the economy. If voters make up their minds at the kitchen table while they're paying bills, Republicans could sweep back into control of the House and the Senate—and maintain their advantage in governor's races," Niven said.