“Conventional Wisdom” Means Zilch—Votes for Democrats Mean Everything in Midterm 2022 November 10, 2022
“Conventional Wisdom,” the CW. This term usually refers to the major media, television outlets, and the D.C. Beltway “pundit” class that seem to believe they can correctly predict how U.S. elections will turn out. However, they are often spectacularly wrong. Remember Campaign 2016? This group overwhelmingly felt that Hillary had the presidency “in the bag.” And how did that turn out? In 1998, when special prosecutor/”persecutor” Kenn Starr’s lurid report came out against Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair just before that year’s midterms, the “conventional wisdom” gang kept saying that Democrats running up and down the ticket in state and national elections would be clobbered. It didn’t work that way. Democrats gained congressional seats and handily won gubernatorial contests. GOP provocateur Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) who pushed this “Democrats are doomed” view non-stop to the CW “experts” had to resign his post in disgrace.
Fast-forward to Midterm Campaign 2022. Again, the political CW class kept pushing the idea that, historically, the party in the White House, now led by Democratic President Joe Biden, would lose seats and one, if not both houses of Congress. “Team Blue” would be “shellacked,” massacred, clobbered, pulverized, etc., because all the voters cared about was inflation, not the Supreme Ct. overturning “Roe v. Wade’s” 1973’s right to an abortion decision. In the CW’s “brilliant” analysis, voters would ignore the threat to democracy that the GOP, Demagogue Donald’s co-opted party and cult of personality, was presenting. Voters could care less, according to the CW, that Trump and at least 345 of his “Team Red” candidates were pushing the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Biden and his Democrats (See brookings.edu, Kamarck & Eisen, 10/07/22). Frankly, the CW didn’t think that it was a big deal that many of these Trumpist “election deniers” wouldn’t even pledge to honor election results should they lose.
November 8, 2022, the date of the midterm elections, now constitutes history. The result? The GOP “Red wave” that the CW kept pushing as absolute gospel did not materialize despite prior historical precedents. President Biden appeared on track for perhaps the best midterm showing of any recent Democratic president. In 1994, when Bill Clinton’s health care plan failed to pass Congress, dispirited Democrats stayed home and the GOP took back the House and Senate. In 1994, Democrats lost 54 seats. In 2010, when Democrat Obama sat in the Oval Office, even though he had recently passed health care reform, a stimulus package to revive the economy, and legislatively contained Wall Street excesses, “Team Blue” still lost 63 House seats and in 2014 went on to lose the Senate as well (See usatoday.com/politics, Groppe & Garrison, 11/09/22). The Campaign 2022 midterms told a far different story. Democrats turned out “big time”just about everywhere in the U.S. The CW was unimpressed that Biden passed three giant relief bills with only a very narrow Democratic House and Senate margin—the COVID relief bill, major infrastructure legislation, and the Build Back Better social agenda program. The CW crowd felt that Biden’s repeated pleas to frame the midterm as a battle for abortion rights and as a fight to preserve democracy would not go over (usatoday.com, Groppe & Garrison, 11/09/22). How wrong they were! Unlike Clinton and Obama, Biden, in his first midterm contest, did not suffer a drubbing. In political analyst Larry Sabato’s opinion, the 2022 midterm results were not a “repudiation.” Although we still don’t know if the GOP will take over either or both the House and the Senate, Democrats, currently still have a path to keep the House and will probably keep control of the Senate. Because of high voter turnout and far better candidates, Democrats displayed surprising strength and boosted Biden’s standing on a night when the CW pundits anticipated a setback (usatoday.com, Groppe & Garrison, 11/09/22). And the real “loser” besides the GOP itself? None other than the leader who captured that party, Demagogue Donald. Marc Thiessen, a former GOP speechwriter for “W” Bush, aptly called the election a “searing indictment of the Republican Party,” considering all the disadvantages Democrats faced: 40-year high inflation, concern about crime, Biden’s middling 40% approval ratings, and a rise of migrants at the southern border. In Thiessen’s words, “Voters looked at all of that, looked at the Republican alternative, and said, ‘No thanks.’” In additional comments on GOP propaganda network Fox News, Thiessen stated, “The Republican Party needs to do a really deep introspection, look in the mirror right now, because this is an absolute disaster (usatoday.com, Groppe & Garrison, 11/09/22).” Political analyst Tim Alberta additionally stated that the 2022 midterm results were not a “Red” tsunami. In fact, Alberta argued that this election may be “shaping up as the best midterm cycle for an incumbent president’s party since the rally-around-the-flag (post-9/11) election in 2002 (Twitter, 6:43 PM, 11/08/22).
Let’s look at some of our Democratic 11/2022 midterm winners. In gubernatorial races, Democrats flipped two seats to the “Blue” Column in Maryland and Massachusetts. In MD, Wes Moore clobbered his GOP wacko MAGA rival Dan Cox. Moore, a college football player and Rhodes Scholar was a paratrooper in Afghanistan. He additionally was an investment banker, author, and CEO of an anti-poverty non-profit foundation. Moore, who is an Obama-like speaker, will be the third elected Black governor in U.S. History (cnn.com, Joseph, P/ 11/09/22). In MA, pro-choice Maura Healey easily defeated GOPer Geoff Diehl who was endorsed by Donald. Diehl is against mail-in voting and supports Demagogue Donald’s “election denial.” He opposes mask and vaccine mandates to combat COVID-19 and supports the Supreme Ct. decision that overturned “Roe.” Diehl’s views may play well in the South, but not in MA (cbsnews.com). Healey, MA’s Attorney General, is the first elected open lesbian governor (nytimes.com, Glueck & Astor, 9/07/22). Democrat Tina Kotek, who was just declared the gubernatorial winner in OR, despite a third-party challenge, is the second having that sexual preference (Borrud, “The Oregonian, 11/10/22). And throughout this campaign, we kept hearing that NY Gov. Kathy Hochul who replaced Andrew Cuomo, after he was involved in a sexual harassment scandal, was in political trouble because of the so-called GOP “tidal wave.” Well, in the end there was no “Red” tidal wave and Hochul easily beat her GOP opponent Lee Zeldin. Zeldin, remember, refused to certify the 2020 election while a Congressmember (jta.org, Henry, J., 11/09/22). In MN, Dem.Gov. Tim Walz defeated physician Scott Jensen. Jensen was banned from Tik Tok last year for spreading hoaxes about the COVID-19 pandemic. During the entire campaign, he kept spreading ridiculous COVID-19 hoaxes (Hunter, dailykos.com, 11/08/22). WI’s Dem. Gov. Tony Evers won re-election against Tim Michels. Michels promised that if he won, “Republicans would never lose another election in Wisconsin,” a statement viewed by many as an anti-democracy comment (See dailykos.com, McCarter11/08/22, madison.com, Rickert, 11/05/22). And in “key” Keystone State PA, Dem. Attorney General Josh Shapiro easily trounced his opponent anti-choice Doug Mastriano by a 13.8 % margin (google.com ). Mastriano hung around with anti-Semitic bigot Andrew Torba. Mastriano made sure to tell everyone that his opponent went to a Jewish school, in case anyone didn’t know Shapiro is usually a Jewish name. Shapiro, an observant Jew who proudly spoke of his heritage throughout the campaign, will be PA’s third Jewish Governor, after Milton Shapp and Ed Rendell. In MI, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer easily won re-election by defeating extremist GOPer Tudor Dixon by 10.6 percentage points (google.com).
In the House, Democrats have already flipped several GOP seats to “Column Blue” and kept others in very swingy areas. In the downstate IL 13th CD (Congressional District), originally Abe Lincoln’s congressional district, Democrat Nikki Budzinski defeated her GOP rival (NBC, Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). In the IL 6th CD, a suburban Chicago region, where the GOP was supposedly threatening, Dem. Sean Casten won a third term (AP). And in the swingy Moline and Rock Island IL 17th CD, with an R+2 Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index), Democrat Eric Sorenson replaced retiring “Blue” leader Cheri Bustos (Palmer Report). In MI, Democrat Hillary Scholten flipped the Grand Rapids 3rd CD seat in a GOP R+5 PVI area. This CD had once been President Gerald Ford’s old congressional district. The GOPer who most recently represented this area of heavily conservative Dutch-Americans, Peter Meijer, was defeated in his primary because he voted to impeach Donald for inciting the 1/06/21 riot (“The Hill,” Schonfeld, 11/09/22). The N. Carolina,13th CD, has a “Red” R+20 PVI. It was previously represented by the right-wing Ted Budd, now, unfortunately, that state’s U.S. Senator-elect. In the contest to replace Rep. Budd, Dem. Wiley Nickel made another “Blue” flip. He defeated Bo Hines who was handpicked by Donald (kos.com, niftywriter, 11/09/22). In swingy VA, Democrat Abigail Spanberger won re-election to a third term in a very tough race in the 7th CD, located in the Shenandoah Valley. She was congratulated by President Biden by phone. Unfortunately, in the VA Beach 2nd CD, Democrat Elaine Luria lost re-election for a third term in a very hard contest (google.com). In NY, Dem. Pat Ryan, who recently won a special election emphasizing the GOP threat to abortion, won a full term in the Hudson Valley NY 18th . However, in the neighboring Hudson Valley seat, the NY 17th, Democratic Congressional Committee Chair (DCCC) Sean Patrick Maloney lost his attempt to win a 6th term (Bellamy, timesunion.com, 11/09/22).
In the OH 13th CD, in the Youngstown/Akron area, which has a mere D+1 PVI 13th CD, African American woman Emilia Sykes defeated her GOP rival. Sykes replaces Cong. Tim Ryan. Ryan, unfortunately, lost his U.S. Senate race to “Mr. Hillbilly Elegy” now hard Trumpist backer JD Vance (google.com). In the Rhode Island 2nd , Democrat Seth Magaziner had a tough election but ultimately won this Providence, Warwick, and Cranston area (Cohen & Cook 2022, google.com). Now, let’s look westward. In “Red” State TX, in the heavily Latino Brownsville 34th CD, GOPer Mayra Flores lost to Democrat Vicente Gonzales. This victory was rather sweet, because GOPer Flores had recently taken this seat in a special election in 6/2022 after Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela had retired. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made a big fuss over Flores’ win. He called it a “referendum” on “radical Democratic policies” and a big win for “Team Red” among Hispanics (See nytimes.com, 11/08/22). So much for this GOP “referendum” and alleged “Red” tide (NOT) among Hispanics. In neighboring New Mexico, “the Land of Enchantment,” voters were not “enchanted” with giving GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell a second term. Still, it was a very close race. Dem. Gabe Vasquez, beat Herrell 50.3%-49.7% . This area, the NM 2nd, contains many rural conservative areas, but Vasquez won because of votes cast in NM’s urban centers in Dona Ana and Bernalillo Counties (Carlsbad Current Argus, 11/10/22).
It’s time to look at the Senate. Democrat John Fetterman, despite the media’s constant emphasis about his being damaged by a stroke and having a rocky debate performance, dispatched snake oil GOP salesman “Dr.” Mehmet Oz in PA by 4 points. This was one big political flip that replaced retiring GOPer Pat Toomey with a Democrat (usatoday.com Slack, Woodall, et al, 11/09/22). It looks like AZ’s Dem. incumbent Mark Kelly, the former astronaut, will probably pull his race out against wacko GOPer Blake Masters. Masters, backed by mega-bucks GOPer Peter Thiel, formerly talked favorably about Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering and the Unabomber. In NH, Dem. Maggie Hassan , considered very vulnerable throughout the campaign, won her race against right-winger Don Bolduc. In NV, Catherine Cortez Masto is still trailing GOPer Adam Laxalt, but there are a lot of outstanding votes from normally Democratic areas that have yet to be counted. And, it’s “déjà vu all over again,” to quote Yogi Berra, in Georgia. Dem. Rev. Raphael Warnock and GOPer Herschel Walker will face off in a deciding runoff on 12/06/21. Warnock is leading Walker in a nail-biter 49.4%-48.5%. However, in GA, if no candidate gets 50% of the vote, a runoff election must be held to determine the winner. Warnock won his first race on 1/05/2021 in a runoff to serve out the remaining term of retiring GOPer Johnny Isakson. Warnock, the former pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, is now running for a full six -year term of his own. Democrats must push for Warnock’s 12/0622 victory with money and with one super- strong GOTV (Get Out the Vote Drive). Should Cortez Masto lose in NV, Warnock must win to keep the Senate “Blue.” If she wins, a Warnock victory helps expand our vote count and makes Democrats Manchin and Sinema less relevant in thwarting Biden’s agenda. Again, it’s all about the “T” word, “Turnout, Turnout,Turnout.” EVERY election counts.
In addition, VT, CA, and MI have enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions to make abortion legal (McCarter, dailykos.com, 11/08/22). MI, CT, and AZ expanded voting rights access and protection (dailykos.com, niftywriter, 11/09/22). “Election deniers” lost Sec. of State elections in MN and NM. In IL, voters passed a first in the nation vote codifying collective bargaining for workers and also became the first state with a constitutional ban on anti-labor right-to-work laws. “Red” Nebraska passed a $15 minimum wage law as well (dailykos.com, niftywriter, 11/09/22). Even in “Red” states, progressive Democratic ideas are popular.
Again, although control of both congressional chambers presently remains up for grabs, any GOP majority in either chamber will be extremely small. This midterm was a mini-“Red” puddle, if that. What can we learn from Midterm 2022? For starters, top candidate recruitment counts, which the Democrats clearly had in abundance. “Election denier” GOP QAnon types do not endorse American values and many were rightfully defeated. Second, despite many pundits and media analysts belittling it, the protection of abortion rights, after the Supreme Ct. overturned “Roe” in 6/2022 with its awful “Dobbs” decision, remained front-and-center for many women and men as well (See latimes.com, Nelson, L., Mays, M., & Lauter, D., 11/10/22). Protecting democracy, as President Biden has repeatedly stated, was also on people’s minds as a major reason to vote. Finally, and most important of all, voting in droves for Democratic candidates to preserve our democracy is everything. Although we still don’t have the exact figures, it sure looks like voter turnout, including among young voters, was “y uu ge” throughout most of the nation. The only way that we can keep the Republic Benjamin Franklin and his fellow Founding Fathers gave us is to vote, vote, and vote. Many polls were way off in this election. Polls, of course, don’t vote. People do. Georgians must do this in the 12/06/2022 Warnock-Walker runoff and all Americans must do this in every presidential and midterm election. Democracy must always be fiercely fought for. It is not automatically guaranteed.