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What Will the Midterms Tell Us?

These midterm elections are never fun. Only in 2018 did Democrats have momentum, as many peole felt that the country was in an existential crisis. We still are, probably a greater one, but somehow the polls aren’t reflecting that. Or maybe it is simply that this time the President is a Democrat.

We know how awful 2010 and 2014 were. A complete rout, which Obama had no ability or effort to stave off. 1994 was bad, too, as the media relentlessly attacked Clinton for policies which led to the greatest period of peace and prosperity in decades. But that’s the media for you.

Now we have what looks to me like a successful Biden Administration: very low unemployment; deficit substantially reduced,; strong federal response to climate crises; eliminating much student loan debt; infrastructure bills which will very likely make a difference, but in the future. Compared to most administrations I have seen, this one has done well. But Biden, while improving his favorability numbers somewhat, is still sitting at 41-45%.

Trump is also at around that number. which is about as bad a sign for the future of democracy in America as one could imagine. His numbers should be at Al Capone level, if such was polled back then. 45% of Americans have a favorable view of this psychotic, sadistic, criminal person? And compared to Biden? However America became that way, it may well be too late to save it. That is a very negative outlook, but how can one wrap one’s head around this reality, that almost half of the population admires the closest thing to Hitler that this country has ever seen?

I look at the upcoming elections, and it is hard to not see them in that framing. Maybe we are all too used to thinking that Americans will do the right thing when it comes down to it. There were so many movies made in past decades with that theme. But maybe now we are not that America, even though there are still some very good and generous people in it. Maybe much of this country now wants what the populace wanted in Hungary, and Italy, and perhaps next in France.

Listen to the rhetoric of the Republican Party. They are vowing to go after the FBI. They will not vote to raise the national debt, thus shutting down the government. They want a national ban on abortions. They want to eliminate Medicare and Social Security. These are not some crackpot fringe people, these are from their highest levels of power; the likes of Rick Scott and Elise Stefanik. They say these things, and either people don’t listen, don’t understand, or don’t care.

Democrats should sweep to massive victories, since they are the party which will protect the safety net, and care about the average citizen. But they are not, not by the polling numbers. And we know that Republicans have literally billions of dollars left to advertise in the last weeks of the campaigns.

I know that polls vary, but I believe that they are usually fairly accurate; except that the polls have recently seemed to underestimate the right-wing vote. Just assuming that the current polls are accurate, how does the idiotic Dr. Oz move to a few points behind John Fetterman? How does the literally mentally-limited Herschel Walker stay within a couple of points of the admirable Senator Warnock? How does Ron Johnson, almost surely a Russian asset, look to be going back to the Senate for another miserable six-year term?

I have an answer to that last one. It would be because Wisconsin had a multiple candidate Democratic primary, and the 16% or so of the voters who are Black, voted in very large numbers for Mandela Barnes. That is something that has been occurring; and of course everyone can vote the way they want; but the ultimate effect is the nomination of a candidate who has less of a chance to win the national election. Some may disagree with this, or take umbrage; but we cannot ignore the reality that bloc identity voting can have the effect of leaving us with a few Democratic candidates who will lose, when we should have won.

That race is not over, but my earlier feeling about it seems now to be occurring, even though the first polls had Barnes ahead, and almost convinced me that I was wrong. The only Democrat who led Johnson in polls taken before the primary, was moderate Sarah Godlewski, the state Treasurer. Barnes looks like he is going to lose; whether it is because he is seen as too liberal in Wisconsin; or maybe there is some racism involved, but the result is the result. Is this going to happen with Cheri Beasley in North Carolina?

It may be that Republicans’ most effective campaign strategy is to tie the Democrats to “urban unrest.” This has won for them in other situations. Does that mean that Democrats should not nominate candidates who are of Black ethnicity? Of course not, but it cannot be completely ignored, that Republicans will run campaigns which subtly or unsubtly try to link the Democratic candidate to “social unrest.” It worked for them in the ’70’s, it worked for them in 1988; and it still works in certain races in certain states.

I don’t see many of the national ads for other state races. I would hope that they are running ads which emphasize that Republicans are determined to eliminate the right to abortion, and to make it a homicidal felony with life imprisonment being possible. That Republicans are determined to take away Social Security and Medicare, they say it plainly. Do people want that? This should be a slam-dunk on both those issues; are Democrats pounding away at them?

Republicans run on their usual two issues, immigration, and urban violence. And of course now inflation, though it should seem obvious, with Germany’s inflation rate at 11%, and Britain’s higher than ours, that this is a worldwide problem. And what is the Republican plan to deal with inflation? They have none, unless it is to get rid of the safety net, and to raise taxes on the poor and middle class, so that they cannot buy anything much.

I do not like to be pessimistic in this area. I was sure that Hillary would win, until the last week, with Comey’s inexplicable actions. I was confident that Biden would win, though I of course always worry. Right now, I have the sense that the momentum is moving toward Republicans; the result of the money they have to pour into races, the intractable bias of the media, and a populace which is either irrevocably dumbed down, or simply unable to separate what will most matter in their lives, from the focus which Republicans try to convince them is more important.

It is due to something; and people can write exhaustive books about it in the next few years, but what good will that do us, outside of academic circles? We’ve got a month to somehow gain control of the national narrative, and get the generic ballot to +5, not a tie, as it mostly is now, because Republican gerrymandering has given them about a 5% advantage going in. That has to be fixed, and that is only a part of what needs to be fixed, if it is possible. We have to believe that it can, somehow, but doing it is clearly an immense and immediate ongoing task.

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10 Responses

  1. Here are some betting odds. Odds are not necessarily predictions, they are intended to equalize betting, so that the book makes money off the proposition. But political odds are still reflective of predictions.

    Odds vary from different sites. One has the odds of Republicans winning the House at -345. meaning that one has to risk $345 to win an additional $100 if they win. If you bet the Democrats, the odds are +285, so if you bet $100, and they win, you win an additional $285. Essentially, they are making Republicans about a 76% favorite to win the House.

    For the Senate, Democrats are actually a 185-165 favorite to hold the Senate, meaning at least 50 Senators. That is making Democrats about a 65% favorite to keep 50 seats or more.

    Another site has odds on who will be elected President in the next election. DeSantis is now the favorite at +340, bet $100 to win $340. Trump is +390. Biden is +415. There are odds on all sorts of political figures, no one else close to those three.

  2. William, you seem much more pessimistic about Democrats winning key races than you were a few weeks ago. Why? Just because of new polls? You know how inaccurate polls can be.

    • Beata, that is true, polls vary. But it seems to me that we are losing ground in most key races. We had that surge on the heels of the dreadful Dobbs decision. But as usual, Republicans have most of the money late in the races, although I read that Warnock is doing well in funds. But there is this literal billionaire who gave the evil Leonard Leo 1.2 billion dollars to allocate so as to best win Republican Senate seats. This kind of thing, accentuated now, is why Republican Senate candidates almost always gain n the two weeks of a campaign.

      It is my sense that it is more likely that the news cycle will benefit Republicans. Democrats cannot pass any more bills at this time. The stock market dropped not because of anything Democrats did wrong, but because the people who run the market do not like higher interest rates, people take their money back out of stocks and into savings. Anything the media says about “fear of recession” is a misdirection. Markets go up when interest rates are low, that is why Trump pushed Powell to lower them.

      Anyway, it is just my sense of the trend going toward Republicans right now. There is still reason to hope, and vote, and do everything people can to help Democrats win. But the Republicans and the media are poised to make a big thing about any transitory economic numbers, and it seems like our peak has subsided. The major hope is that pollsters are not accounting for the great increase in women registering to vote. It really is not that I am that much more pessimistic than before, I never really thought we could hold the House, but I had some hope about it, now it seems very unlikely. I wrote that I thought we might gain one or two Senate seats, but I more hope about Barnes, who I always thought was the wrong candidate. We very much need Fetterman and Warnock to hold on, to keep 50 seats. I certainly am not trying to discourage anybody we do not need that; but I do want to express how I see things, just one person’s opinion, of course.

      • What about Tim Ryan (OH), Val Demings (FL) and Cheri Beasley (NC)? They seemed to be gaining momentum following Dobbs. Is it your sense that it has faded?

        Ryan has some good ads out, highlighting his pro-labor credentials and mocking Vance. But I checked to see if Demings and Beasley are running ads and it appears they are not. Probably from lack of funds. That is so disappointing. Both are strong candidates.

        • Apparently the DNC or DCC are not funding Demings. Biden was going to Florida to support Crist but not Demings, at least that is what someone said. They may well think that she has no chance. I agree that everyone should be supported, that is how you build support for next time, but whereas money is never a problem for the billionaire oligarchs, it is for Democrats, so they make choices.

          Ryan is a good candidate for Ohio, and Vance, Mr. Ivy League writer of “Hillbilly Elegy,” is a jerk. But he has gained a few points, and looks to win a close race. Beasley is tied in every poll I see, I have no idea why she is not getting money, if she is not. Cunningham should have beaten Tillis, except for his impolitic affair, and NC has a two-term Democratic governor. She can win, and that is a race where I would pour in money.

  3. Why is the author still taking polls seriously? I thought their growing unreliability was established fact?

  4. Timely article in today’s Politico: “Dems agonize over N.C. spending as Senate race tightens”. (It’s Politico but it’s still an informative article.)

    From the article:
    North Carolina Democrats are projecting confidence about Cheri Beasley’s chances against Ted Budd. But they think the party needs to cough up more money.
    Senate Democrats are prioritizing a half-dozen states over North Carolina. The state’s House Democrats are openly fretting that the party could come to regret it.
    Former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) who recently campaigned with Beasley, said Democrats “absolutely” need to invest more in the race.
    “Democrats give up sometimes too easy and they give up on the South way too easy,” Jones said. “I worry sometimes after my loss, after Jaime [Harrison’s] loss, after Cal Cunningham’s loss, and despite winning in Georgia, that they just sometimes overlook and say, ‘We know we can do better in Ohio and Pennsylvania and other places.'”

    From me:
    Beasley is buying ads (I’m glad I was wrong about that!). But Republicans overall have spent $43.8 million in ad buys for Ted Budd, compared to Democrats’ $22.4 million for Cheri Beasley. The DSCC has yet to spend on TV ads for Beasley (!) but they say they have funded voter registration efforts in North Carolina. Recent polls show Beasley tied or within striking distance of Budd. The DSCC needs to step up to the plate in North Carolina with some major money for Beasley.

  5. More ugliness coming out about Herschel Walker (see Common Dreams’ “Son Decries Herschel Walker as Abortion Story Leads to Accusations of Family Violence”, along with many other news sources).

    Why Walker has any chance of winning against Raphael Warnock is beyond me. I hope the latest revelations about Walker put an end to his campaign.

    • I had been thinking about how no matter what Trump does, or his acolytes, they are always defended. And here we have Rick Scott, in charge of their Senate campaigns, expressing his support of Walker, and saying that he had denied the story, which almost certainly is true, as the Daily Beast has corroboration with bills.

      But one wonders how many people there are left who would change their opinion of one of their Republican heroes, no matter how much of a hypocrite and liar he was. Hopefully some, but watch for stories being made up about Democratic candidates to try to make it all look questionable, which is the actual plan of every totalitarian country, to make truth seem relative, or unknowable. We know that many Republican political figures who proudly express their anti-abortion position, have paid for the abortions of the women they impregnated.

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