Well here we are 4 days away from the Midterms and the insanity that typically comes with electioneering has, by now, reached its normal fever pitch, and hopefully its zenith. The pieties which are recited endlessly and with increasing fervor by the combatants tend to be the same baloney they serve up every election season. And while the contestants may have convinced themselves that they are uniquely on the side of truth and justice, they are serving up baloney nonetheless.
Consider some typical offerings designed to rally voters. “This is the most important, consequential, (pick your adjective) election in your lifetime.” Well, no it isn’t. On the Wednesday after election day despite the hysteria ginned up over the elections, the sun will still rise, the sky won’t fall and the day will look a lot like every other day.
How about this one, a remark typically intoned by candidates who are resigned to their fate: “The only poll that matters is the one on election day.” Of course that isn’t even close to being true. Leaving aside that election day has become election week, it is undeniably true that politicians are polling addicts. Not only do they consult poll data when considering what position to take on a given issue; campaign strategy is also highly dependent on polling.
What is particularly interesting about this election season is wide variability in polling results across different organizations. What remains to be seen is whether any polling organization has consistently produced more accurate forecasts when compared with actual outcomes.
Georgia on My Mind
Which brings up the two major races in Georgia; the Governor’s race and the Senate race. Georgia’s contests are a mirror image of Pennsylvania’s. In Georgia’s Gubernatorial race the Republican seeking re-election is Brian Kemp. He is facing a rematch with Stacey Abrams whom he beat by 50,000 votes in 2018. Governor Kemp earned the enmity of Donald J Trump for his refusal in 2020 to subvert Georgia’s election laws in favor of Trump.
Stacey Abrams, perhaps a precursor to Trump in 2020, refused to acknowledge her defeat in 2018. She accused Kemp of fraud, without evidence, as the NY Times likes to say. She acted pretty much like sore loser Trump acted when he refused to admit defeat in 2020. The best you can say about Abrams relative to Trump is that she didn’t set off any riots in Atlanta.
That said, Abrams (like Trump) has taken to making wildly implausible claims. For instance, when she finally got around to acknowledging an inflation problem, she attributed it in part to too many women having children instead of aborting them.
Abrams thus joins the Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania in tin-foil hat territory. And like the Republican Pennsylvania nominee Doug Mastriano, she is solidly behind in the polls. (Those polls that supposedly don’t matter). She, like Mastriano is behind enough that she, like Mastriano may drag down the Party’s Senate nominee to defeat.
Interestingly, the Republican Senate nominees, both in Pennsylvania and in Georgia, were pushed by Donald Trump. Both Republicans are deeply flawed candidates, and at least one (Hershel Walker) is obviously incompetent. The other (Dr. Oz) is a snake-oil salesman.
The Georgia Republican candidates also share two other factors in common. The first is that they are both running against incompetent buffoons. The second is that the polling in both races indicates that the contests are very toss-ups. Since Georgia election laws require the victor to have 50% plus 1, and there are minor party candidates running, it may require a run-off on December 6, 2022 to finally arrive at a result.
There is a lot of talk about the possibility of a “wave” election with Republicans gaining a substantial majority in the House and maybe a 2 or 3 seat pickup in the Senate. There are a couple of things to keep in mind though. The first is that the incumbent President’s party almost invariably loses House seats in the Midterms during his first term in office. Since the Democrats have only a tiny majority (220 vs 212 with 3 absent) normally it would be expected that they will lose the majority. It is the margin that matters.
Second, in the 2020 presidential election the Republicans picked up 14 House seats. It is extremely unusual for a party to pick up House seats while losing a presidential election when the party is the incumbent in the White House. But that is what the Republicans did and it was clearly a personal repudiation of Donald Trump, not Republicans generally.
But that leaves open the question of how to define a Republican “wave”. In two prior off-year wave elections (1994 and 2010) the Republicans picked up 54 and 63 seats respectively. The average off-year gain for the party out of power is around 28 – 30 seats. But since the Republicans picked up 14 seats in 2020, a gain of about 35 – 40 seats would probably constitute a wave and result in a gain in the Senate of as many as 4 or 5 seats.
There will be surprises. The Republicans are poised to pick up Gubernatorial seats, perhaps in unlikely places like Oregon, Minnesota and New York. Some Senate seats that looked to be safe suddenly look vulnerable, specifically Michale Bennet in Colorado and Patty Murray in Washington State.
Regardless, a Republican wave, if it comes, should not be viewed as any kind of mandate. It should be seen as a rebuke to the Democrats, and most particularly, the progressives. It is not a vote for any kind of Republican governing philosophy because there isn’t one anywhere in sight.
The public is sick and tired of woke politics. They are fed up with the disaster in the public schools, with rising violent crime in the cities, with too-high inflation, with chaos on the Southern border, with identity politics, with the obsession with transactivism and with cancel culture in general. Which ever party figures out how to deal with these issues will be well positioned for the 2024 Presidential race.
Most importantly, family and friends are more important than your vote. In the grand scheme of things, politics is not all that important. That’s worth keeping in mind when the discussion gets heated. Or overheated.