Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The red wave that wasn’t


The votes are still being counted from Tuesday’s midterm elections, but it is already clear that the results were an unmitigated disaster for Republicans. The GOP seems to have taken very favorable conditions and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s entirely possible that Republicans will still gain control of the House and Senate, but that is by no means certain. If the GOP does eke out control of Congress, it will be by the skin of their teeth rather than by a wave.

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Photo credit: janinekrobinson on Unsplash

As I write this, projections look very close to my prediction from last week. Democrats appear to have picked up the Pennsylvania senate seat despite John Fetterman’s disabilities and Raphael Warnock leads in Georgia but will most likely not evade a runoff. Democrats Mark Kelly and Maggie Hassan retain their seats in Arizona and New Hampshire respectively. Republican Adam Laxalt will likely flip Nevada’s open senate seat to red. It looks as though control of the Senate will hinge on Georgia.

Republicans have a better shot at flipping the House, but the margin looks to be thin. FiveThirtyEight reports that several House districts projected to go to Republicans were retained by the Democrats, and, in a delicious development, Lauren Boebert currently trails her Democrat challenger, Adam Frisch, in Colorado’s third district.

The bloodletting doesn’t stop there. Democrats have flipped two gubernatorial seats in Massachusetts and Maryland while retaining governorships in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In Arizona, Trumpist Republican Kari Lake trails in a race that is still undecided. Lake is preemptively casting suspicion on the validity of the election.

There are also reports that Democrats have flipped the state legislatures in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Democrats haven’t controlled Michigan’s legislature for almost 40 years.

Democrats can credit their victory to two things. The first is the Dobbs decision and the second is Donald Trump. Contrary to the conventional wisdom from last summer, abortion does not seem to have been baked into the cake. There was a definite shift in momentum after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.

Donald Trump also bears a lot of the blame. Mr. Trump endorsed a great many of the candidates who lost Tuesday night and his influence has pulled the GOP in a more radical direction. However much voters hate inflation, they hate crazy more.

Trump was on the verge of announcing a presidential run before Tuesday. It will be interesting to see whether he reconsiders those plans in the wake of the Republican collapse.

It will also be interesting to see whether the midterm disaster finally leads Republicans to break with Donald Trump. The Former Guy’s fingerprints are all over Tuesday’s losses and it will be difficult to deny his culpability. Don’t look for a buck-stops-here moment from Trump, however. It is more likely that the former president will fall back on claims of fraud.

For their part, Democrats should not labor under the illusion that their salvation was an endorsement of progressive policies with the exception of legal abortion. This was the Republicans’ election to lose and the Republicans lost it. Democrats now have some time to recover the economy before 2024. They should make the most of it and tack towards the center with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who may have saved Democrats from themselves.

Tuesday night was not a ringing endorsement of either party. It was a status quo election and a repudiation of Trumpism. Both parties need to realize voters don’t like either extreme.

Results are still coming in, but the midterm results were better for Democrats than most could have imagined. Republicans in particular need to have a moment of introspection and go back to the drawing board.

KHERSON KUMBAYAH: Russia has announced a withdrawal from Kherson, the only provincial capital to fall during the war. The retreat is further evidence of Putin’s difficult military situation, and I can’t help but think that the American election results are also good news for Ukraine.

TWITTER TRAINWRECK: After laying off thousands of workers, Twitter is now trying to bring some of them back. Apparently Elon Musk belatedly realized that his ideas for changes can’t be implemented without engineers.

From the Racket

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