WASHINGTON — This week marks 10 weeks until election day and for most of the summer — when gas prices were breaking records — many thought the election could be a landslide victory for Republicans.
While history is undoubtedly still on the side of the GOP, Democrats have made major inroads in recent weeks, fueling speculation that this midterm may be historically close.
HISTORY AND POLLS FAVOR GOP
For most of this year, the conventional thinking was a political "red wave" was going to sweep the country.
That happened to Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.
Americans tend to vote against the party that controls the White House.
President Joe Biden's poll numbers certainly are contributing to that belief. It's one reason why Republicans are still projected to take back the House of Representatives.
RealClearPolitics, a non-partisan website, has averaged all of Biden's recent polling. Right now, the Biden has around a 42% approval rating and 55% of the country disapproves of him.
However, something is happening with the political tides in this country that is giving Democrats some hope — despite Biden's poor numbers.
REASON FOR HOPE FOR DEMOCRATS
One reason Democrats are feeling more optimistic is because they actually passed some of their priorities.
Between climate change reform, prescription drug changes and student loan forgiveness, that may just be enough to motivate some Democrat voters who usually sit out midterm elections.
Of course, Republicans voted against those issues and the new policies will likely motivate their voters too.
Another reason is the price of gasoline. Last month, gas prices averaged $4.36/gallon. Last week, they averaged $3.88/gallon.
Prices are getting closer to what they averaged back in 2021.
In fact, a recent NBC news poll listed "threats to democracy" as the No. 1 issue on minds of voters this election.
Gas prices and inflation were No. 2.
Democrats think they have a better shot at keeping races close across the country if voters are thinking about something other than the price of gas, an issue that favors Republicans.
Another reason this election may be tight down the stretch is because of recent election results and abortion rights.
In New York last week, few polls had Democrat Pat Ryan winning his congressional race.
However, Ryan won after he focused his campaign primarily on abortion.
In conservative-learning Kansas this month, voters defeated a measure that would have created new restrictions.
Those results are leading some political observers to wonder if Democrats are stealing some Republican voters over the issue of abortion.
Not to mention, Republicans have selected a number of Senate candidates who have never held office before, so they are not as familiar to voters
That is true with Republican Senate candidates in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia.