Making Sense of the Midterm Election with LA Times Political Columnist Mark Z. Barabak
Updated: Oct 15, 2022
Republicans need gain only five seats to take control of the House of Representatives, and are likely to do so, but Democrats can hold the other half of Congress if they re-elect the first Latina U.S. Senator over a rabid Republican election denier.
That's the bottom line prognosis by Mark Z. Barabak, roving political columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who returned to Newsmakers TV this week to help us make sense of the crucial and consequential, if complicated and confusing, national state of play in the November 8 elections.
Barabak, now in his fifth decade of covering California and national politics, is just back from Nevada where, he wrote this week, the too-close-to-call race between Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto versus all-in-for-Trump Republican Adam Laxalt, the former state attorney general, may likely determine whether Democrats avoid losing both houses - and any hope of governance, beyond partisan investigations and performative political tribalism, in the last two years of the Biden Administration.
The Senate now stands at a 50-50 party split, with Vice President Kamala Harris just down the hall to break ties, so Job One for the Dems is to hold on to what they have. Three of the seats that Republicans had seen as prime pickup opportunities - Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire -- have Democrats ahead in the polls less than a month before the election. This thanks to the clown car of nominees handpicked by Trump -- shout-out Blake Masters, Herschel Walker and Don Bolduc.
At the same time, the Dems' erstwhile best chance to flip a GOP seat - Wisconsin, where the loony Ron Johnson is underwater in favorable-unfavorable ratings - nonetheless appears to be slipping away, after Democratic voters picked the far-left lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes (see: police, defund the) who currently is getting buried under a barrage of TV ads linking him to fears about crime via a notorious alleged mass murderer now on trial for killing six people by plowing through a Christmas parade crowd with his car.
Three other neck-and-neck races -- open seats in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and a surprisingly strong insurgent campaign by Rep. Tim Ryan against Trump acolyte J.D. Vance ("asskisser" is the word Trump himself used to describe him) in Ohio - also offer possibilities of Dem pickups, with odds ranging from better-than-even to longshot.
But if both parties "hold serve," Barabak notes, it will all come down to Nevada.
Beyond simplifying the Senate math for loyal Newsmakers, Mark also explains why most political professionals have a high level of confidence Republicans will seize the House - Speaker Kevin McCarthy - seriously?; checks in on a couple of critical California districts; deciphers the threat posed by hundreds of Big Lie-embracing GOP candidates on the ballot across the country; and takes a hard look at Nancy Pelosi's future.
It's all here, right now, in a special Press Clips edition of Newsmakers TV.