Three months ahead of the midterms, statistician and FiveThirtyEight creator Nate Silver has sensed a shift in the polls. According to his midterm forecast, there’s been a “consistent movement toward Democrats” in the last month. They now have a 55% chance of holding the Senate, an 8-point rise since early June, and they’ve chipped away at the Republican lead on the generic congressional ballot. Statistically, the Senate forecast is still a toss-up, but Silver says the FiveThirtyEight model is “designed to be pretty conservative,” and “it takes a fair amount of data to get the model to change its opinion” this early in the race. Overall, what he sees "probably isn't just statistical noise."
The most obvious explanation involves the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. In a recent Suffolk/USA Today poll, abortion was second only to the economy on voters’ minds. That will keep things competitive, but there are a few other issues working in Democrats’ favor. Congress is actually being productive, having passed bipartisan bills on guns, semiconductors, and veterans' benefits. The January 6 hearings haven’t hurt Democrats, either, though it’s not clear whether they’ve helped. As for the economy, at least the market has rebounded slightly, and gas prices have dipped. Then again, inflation is still eating paychecks, President Biden is sporting an average disapproval rating of 55.6%, and it's only August. Read Silver’s full analysis here. (Read more Election 2022 stories.)