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Expand chart
Data: The American Presidency Project; The Cook Political Report; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Even if the Democrats gain seats in both chambers of Congress in November, early forecasts suggest that any anti-Trump wave won't be particularly large compared to midterm elections of the past.

Why it matters: President Trump's low approval numbers and heightened enthusiasm among Democratic voters both point to Democratic success in November. But it probably won't be a wave of historic proportions, based on Cook Political Report's latest predictions. At best, it could allow them to win the House while barely shifting the Senate at all.

The back story: As the chart shows, both the House and Senate have nearly always moved against incumbent presidents in mid-term elections. See the big Republican swings against Barack Obama in 2010 and 2014 towards the top right, and, in the lower left quadrant, the Democratic swings against Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 and Gerald Ford in the post-Watergate midterm of 1974.

This year may be different. The Democrats will almost certainly make gains in the House — Cook Political Report predicts Democrats will gain between 25 and 40 seats, enough to win back control of the chamber.

  • But the Senate math is tougher for them. Cook predicts Democrats will gain as many as two seats, which would give them control of both chambers, but they may also lose one.
  • And there's no guarantee that the House wave will be strong. A CNN poll this week found that the Democrats' advantage over Republicans in the generic ballot has gotten weaker, and is now within the margin of error.

What to watch: If the Democrats gain seats in the House while the GOP gains in the Senate, it will be the first midterm in 36 years in which the two chambers of Congress moved in different directions.

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.