Despite widespread expectations that a “red wave” in the midterm elections will help Republicans regain control of Congress, early voting in three key states suggests that Democrats are enthusiastically casting early ballots that may stop a massive Republican takeover.
Ohio, Georgia, and Wisconsin are all considered important races that will determine how much political influence former President Donald Trump and his preferred far-right candidates will yield in the coming years.
An analysis by MSNBC found that Democratic voters in Ohio have cast 4.9 percent more early votes than Republicans. In Georgia, Democratic voters have cast 7.8 percent more early votes than Republicans. In Wisconsin, Democratic voters have cast 2.7 percent more early votes than Republicans.
In all cases, the surge of early Democratic voters has flipped the trend from the 2020 elections, which saw early Republican voters casting more ballots than Democrats.
In the news network’s analysis, MSNBC host Joy Reid said she believes that Democratic women in particular have been motivated to vote in earlier numbers because of the June overturning of abortion rights by the conservative-led Supreme Court. She also said that Trump’s conspiracy theories about mail-in voter fraud may have discouraged Republicans from submitting their own early and absentee ballots, creating an election scenario that favors Democrats.
It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court decision is actually what’s responsible. While Democratic political leaders have repeatedly cast Republicans as a threat to civil rights and democracy, Republicans have tried to blame Democrats for crime, the economy, and President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings. Popular wisdom holds that midterm elections usually vote out whichever party is currently in power — this year, that’s the Democrats.
But the three aforementioned states will be closely watched nonetheless because they pit Trump-endorsed, far-right anti-LGBTQ candidates against Democratic candidates who are often more traditionally qualified.
In Ohio, the U.S. Senate race has Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) facing off against J.D. Vance, a transphobe who opposes same-sex marriage. In Georgia, Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is facing Herschel Walker, a former NFL player who is a transphobe and is despised by his own queer son. In Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) is challenging Sen. Ron Johnson (R), a conspiracy theorist who thinks student “furries” are using litter boxes in schools.
Ultimately, the midterms will likely be decided by the voters who actually show up in person to the ballot box to cast their votes. But if early voting in these states is any indication, the red wave may be much smaller than anticipated.