Where’s the Wave?

I’ve been saying this for a while, but The Upshot‘s Nate Cohn says it better: if there’s going to be some sort of Republican “wave” election this year, it’s going to have to start showing up pretty soon in the polling of major races. And so far it really hasn’t:

The race for the Senate, at least right now, is stable. There aren’t many polls asking whether voters would prefer Democrats or Republicans to control Congress, but the Democrats appear to maintain a slight edge among registered voters. Democratic incumbents in red Republican states, who would be all but doomed in a Republican wave, appear doggedly competitive in places where Mitt Romney won by as much as 24 points in 2012.

The same could not be said for Rick Santorum or Blanche Lincoln in 2006 or 2010. The light-blue Democratic states and purple presidential battleground states, like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire, all seem to be heading toward tight races or Democratic wins, as one would expect in a fairly neutral year.

Cohn concedes things could still change. But waves don’t just appear out of nowhere on Election Day:

[A]s July turns to August, the G.O.P. is now on the clock. If there is to be a wave this November, the signs of a shift toward the G.O.P. ought to start to show up, somewhere, soon. Every day that goes by without a shift toward the G.O.P. increases the odds that there will not be a wave at all.

Lest Democrats get too excited while watching that clock, Cohn also reminds us that Republicans could most definitely retake control of the Senate without a wave lifting its candidates. That’s how bad the landscape for Democrats is this cycle: a “normal” election with no real national push or pull could still produce the six net GOP wins it needs to create the nauseating spectacle of Mitch McConnell in charge of the Upper Chamber (assuming Mitch himself survives).

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.