A Red Wave is Coming. The Only Question is How High It Will Be | Opinion

The people who project election outcomes are not ready to admit a "red wave" is coming. How high it will be, how many Democrats it will wash out of office, no one yet knows. But it's on the way.

The first indicator is the national environment. Polls show voters of all kinds, especially late deciders, cite inflation, the generally poor state of the economy, and the rise in violent crime as the reasons they intend to vote. It's hard to imagine any of those issues working to the benefit of the Democrats.

The price of essentials like food, rising on an annualized basis of 8 percent, has outstripped wage gains. People feel poorer and the economy isn't creating new jobs, despite President Joe Biden taking credit for jobs that returned after pandemic shutdowns.

Biden's shown repeatedly he's without a clue—he's gotten the price of gas wrong consistently. The voters notice.

The polls are not predictors, but they're trending toward the Republicans in most key races. The GOP won't win them all—it's not 1994—but if the election were held today, Congress and most of the states would end up in Republican hands.

Of the 36 Senate races this year (34 in cycle and two called to fill the seat of a departing or departed senator) 21 are for seats held by the GOP, 15 for seats held by Democrats. A flip of just one in either direction will determine which party runs the chamber for the next two years.

In September, the Democrats expected things would break their way. As November dawns, they're playing defense all over the place. The polls, which have underestimated the Republican vote in the last several elections, have the GOP candidates in Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—where Dr. Oz appears to have opened up a lead after his debate with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman—all running ahead. In New Hampshire, Arizona, and Washington state, they're running behind but catching up quickly. The one-seat pickup Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs to become Senate majority leader will happen. How many more the Republicans get depends on how big the anti-Biden turnout turns out to be. Could the GOP break 51? Absolutely. Can they reach 55 or above? It's definitely possible.

Florida vote sign
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 24: Jene Hinspeter, a Lee County Election official, sets up signs directing voters to the polling station at Wa-Ke Hatchee park on October 24, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. Early voting for Florida's 2022 general election started today. Governor Ron DeSantis expanded early voting access in three Florida counties devastated by Hurricane Ian. The12 early voting sites will be open through Election Day and will be open to all voters in the county regardless of assigned district. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The situation is much the same in the U.S. House of Representatives. The GOP only needs five seats to get to a majority of 218. Election-watching sites like Real Clear Politics project them, as of this writing, to end up with 228 not including seats labeled as "toss-ups." If the GOP wins half of those toss-up seats, its total would reach 244. In a wave, that number could go even higher.

For those who find that unbelievable, remember that the Democrats have outpolled the Republicans in pre-election surveys going back to 1994 yet have found themselves with a minority of House seats more often than not.

In the 36 gubernatorial races that happen this year, the Republicans hold 20 and the Democrats 16. Yet—even with the almost inevitable loss of GOP-held governorships in Massachusetts and Maryland—the GOP is likely to add seats. Most of the close contests are in states where a Democrat is currently governor. That includes Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Oregon.

Other states where the Republicans could win, depending on the size of the wave, include Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut, and New York—where the GOP candidates are now all expected to lose. The point is that it is possible the Democrats fail to flip any state outside the aforementioned Massachusetts and Maryland.

Even down ballot at the state legislative level, the Republicans are primarily concerned about the potential for one or both chambers flipping in Michigan because of redistricting. That could be offset by Republican Tudor Dixon's sprint to the finish in the governor's race. Even if Democrat Gretchen Whitmer—high priestess of the lockdown, a subject that's also causing Democrats to lose votes—is reelected governor, Dixon should help the GOP hang on to at least one chamber.

The Republicans meanwhile will solidify their majorities in the chambers they now lead and may pick up a few along the way, like the Minnesota House and the entire Nevada legislature, depending on how big the wave is.

Look at the numbers again. A late October poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted for USA Today found the GOP ahead of the Democrats on the generic ballot test, 49 percent to 45 percent. In July, the Democrats led, 44 percent to 40 percent. An October 28 Rasmussen Reports poll has the GOP's lead widening to 7 points. What's going on now is a partisan mirror image of 2018, when voters expressed their displeasure with President Donald Trump by coming out to vote against members of his party in large numbers. Now the dissatisfied voters are coming out against Biden, who may not have as far to fall as Trump, and could end up in worse shape.

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He works with several public groups based in Washington and is a Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network Media Fellow. Email him at RoffColumns AT GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheRoffDraft

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.