Democrats with proven track records of winning tough districts aren't running for re-election. Republicans are enjoying early fundraising windfalls. And, as Donald Trump and Barack Obama both learned the hard way, midterm elections almost always break against the president's party.
The early indicators that showed Democrats poised to make big gains in Congress four years ago now point the other direction, suggesting that the narrow 220-212 Democratic House majority is in serious danger.
"As we found out in 2020, surprises can happen, and it's not a done deal," said David Wasserman, who tracks congressional races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "Democrats' best hope is that Biden's approval rating stays above 50 percent and that Republicans have a tougher time turning out their voters without Trump on the ballot."
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Much remains uncertain about the midterm elections more than a year away — including the congressional districts themselves, thanks to the delayed redistricting process. The Senate, meanwhile, looks like more of a toss-up.