Republicans appear to be sitting pretty for the midterm elections, with polls showing the GOP surging ahead of Democrats in the generic ballot. At the same time, President Biden's poll numbers are cratering. And in the most recent nationally-watched election, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor's race, in a state Biden carried by 10 points one year earlier.
It all adds up to an expected Republican red wave this fall. But critics caution it is way too early for the GOP to start measuring the drapes, with the election still more than nine months off. One of those critics is Peter Morici, University of Maryland economist and national columnist. He believes Republicans need a strong economic agenda in order to translate their poll numbers to votes this fall. "To win nationally, Republicans need to take about five percentage points from Democrats and Independents, and to do that they essentially have to convince those voters that they have an alternative program, that they can do a better job," says Morici.
Specifically, Morici would like to see Republicans do something like Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract With America, which helped Republicans win a historical landslide that year. "Start to talk about something like a jobs program focused on re-skilling people, so they can move into the new economy," he says. "I think those kinds of things are important to focus on...you don't have to have a sweeping five trillion dollar bill to do some good."
Morici tells KTRH that simply being against Biden and the Democrats, or focusing on hot-button cultural issues like "wokeism," won't be enough for Republicans to seal the deal with American voters who remain skeptical of leadership in both parties. "Consider (Senate Republican Leader) Mitch McConnell as an electoral figure---he has approval ratings worse than Joe Biden," he says. "So it is not a given that the Republicans are going to run away with this thing."
The bottom line for the GOP: stay on offense. "The Republicans right now are like an NFL team with a 14-point lead and 11 minutes to go, with a prevent defense," says Morici. "That doesn't always work out."