The dust from the 2022 midterm elections has almost settled and it’s time to consider what we’ve learned.
1.There wasn’t a “red wave.” For months we have been hearing that Republicans were going to achieve a historic victory in the midterms: take control of the House and Senate and deliver a massive repudiation to Democrats, in general, and the Biden administration in particular. This didn’t happen. Democrats maintained control of the Senate and, at this writing, the House is narrowly divided.
2. Trump floundered. Many of us feared that not only would Democrats be clobbered but also Donald Trump would emerge from the election in a strong political position. This didn’t happen. In general, Trump-loving candidates didn’t do well; for example, Arizona Senate candidate, Blake Masters, lost “bigly.” Trump has decided to run for President in 2024, but he’s not a strong as he once was — he’s no longer a “king maker.”
3. The “Election-denier” movement floundered. Donald Trump sponsored a set of candidates who were united not only in their feasance to Trump but also in their belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Many of these zealots ran for governor or secretary of state offices, where they would be in a position to directly influence election results. In general, they lost. For example, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Arizona.
4. The Mainstream Media was wrong: In the run up to the election, the mainstream media — notably the New York Times — predicted a red wave, based upon their contention that a combination of these factors would sink Democrats: President Biden’s poll numbers, persistent inflation, and historical mid term trends favoring the Party out of power. The 538 website said that voters (narrowly) preferred Republicans over Democrats. The last minute polls were very favorable to Republicans. For example, the 538 website average showed Mark Kelly ahead in Arizona by slightly more than 1 percent (he won by more than 5 percent).
The mainstream media, and the last minute polls, were wrong. There are many explanations for this discrepancy. I think there’s a simple answer: young women overwhelmingly preferred Democrats. (https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/3731564-young-women-broke-hard-for-democrats-in-the-midterms/) “Exit polls show 72 percent of women ages 18-29 voted for Democrats in House races nationwide. In a pivotal Pennsylvania Senate race, 77 percent of young women voted for embattled Democrat John Fetterman, helping to secure his victory.” Young people in general preferred Dems (https://www.npr.org/2022/11/15/1136563709/young-voters-helped-democrats-win-the-senate-and-other-midterm-elections ) “Early estimates suggest that midterm turnout among people under 30 was the second highest it’s been in three decades, outpaced only by 2018 — the election after Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential win.”
In addition, Independent voters preferred Democrats: “Independent voters made up 31% of the electorate and they favored Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 49% to 47%, a stark break from the past four midterms in which they voted by double digits for the party out of power, according to exit polls.” (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/trump-hurt-republicans-2022-elections-numbers-point-yes-rcna56928 )
5. This wasn’t a classic midterm election, it was a reprise of 2020. Even though Joe Biden and Donald Trump weren’t on the 2022 ballot, the overall vote reflected the same factors evident in 2020. For example, in 2020 Dems narrowly carried Arizona and in 2022 Democrats also narrowly carried Arizona.
6. Why was the election close? If, as I believe, the 2022 election was actually a reprise of the 2020 contest between crazy Donald Trump and responsible Joe Biden, why was it close? Why did so many Republicans vote for Trump surrogates — the architect of the January 6th insurrection — and a Republican Party that seems unable to stand up to him?
There are four answers to this question: the first is that there is a substantial MAGA cult; that is, there are millions of seemingly normal Americans who are spellbound by Trump. If it seems harsh to call them crazy, we can at least agree that they have an irrational attachment to Donald. The second answer is that there are millions of Republican voters who if not enamored by Trump, at the least live in his shadow. These voters, most of whom live in Red states, are bombarded with MAGA news 24/7. (As a result, they truly believe that Hunter Biden is a graver threat than Vladimir Putin.)
The third reason why the election was close was because of Republican gerrymandering. For example, in Arizona, Democrats won the Senate seat, Mark Kelly, and Governor’s race, Katie Hobbs, but lost AZ 1 and AZ 6; as a result, Republicans gained two seats. The fourth reason why the election was close was dark money. Republican Oligarchs poured an unbelievable amount of money into certain races. For example, in North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley lost to Republican turkey Ted Budd, even though she outraised him; sadly, she was deluged by racist Republican dark money ads. (Same thing happened in Wisconsin.)
7. What’s wrong with Florida? I’ve moved beyond being surprised by Florida, where mini-MAGA Ron DeSantis won the Governor’s race by 19 points over Charlie Crist and lightweight Marco Rubio won the Senate race by 16 points over Val Demings (an excellent candidate.) Maybe Florida has been contaminated by proximity to Donald Trump. Anyway, Florida is MAGA land. Don’t go there.
8. What’s wrong with Texas? We have good friends who live in Texas; every two years they tell us: “this is the year Texas turns blue.” It’s not happening. Governor Greg Abbott (a flea weight) defeated Beto O’Rourke by 11 points. The only Texas good news was that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo overcame a well-funded effort to replace her. Other than that, bleh. I’m not going to Texas,
9. Hey, New York, get it together. If the Democrats lose control of the House, many will blame New York where they lost five blue seats. (https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/new-york-democrats-congress/ ) There’s a lot of New York blame to spread around. Let’s start with Governor Hochul who won by a tepid 5 points and had no coat tails. (Senator Schumer won by 13 points.) Democrats got a lot of MSM criticism for having no message; that wasn’t the case out west, but it appears to have been true in New York. Shame on you New York.
10. Two Americas, two strategies. We traveled from very blue Sonoma County (California) to slightly blue Washoe County (Nevada) to get out the Democratic vote with members of the Culinary Workers’ Union. And we did it. In the final analysis, Washoe and Clark Counties tipped the Senate vote in favor of Catherine Cortez-Masto.
While we were going door to door, one of our Nevada companions observed: “In Nevada there are two political strategies. Republicans run negative ads and augment them with fake polls.” (In the days before November 8, there was a flurry of Republican-sponsored polls showing Catherine Cortez-Masto losing badly.) “Democrats run positive ads and go door to door to get out their voters.”
Summary: Democrats won big, but they could have won by more if only Americans would stop watching MAGA TV. America, just say no! Go outside and smell the roses. Savor democracy.