Is this what the Founders had in mind. SOUND OFF!
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The 2022 Midterms: Knocking the Narrative, Part IV
This article is the final in a four-part series related to the 2022 Midterm Elections. Today is Election Day, and we conclude with a discussion on the Senate. What will happen tonight? Do the Democrats have a path to retaining their majority?
Narrative 4: The Democrats have a reasonable chance of keeping the Senate.
Rating: Slightly True
The Democrats come into the night with only a tie-breaker for a lead, which means they can’t afford a single loss. While you can make a theoretical path for the Donkeys to prevent a net negative in the Senate, recent campaign events have made this outcome impractical. The GOP has nearly an unobstructed path to a Senate majority.
The Republican Path to a Senate Majority
Let’s look at what Republicans need to take control of the Senate. First, the GOP appears solid in three critical seats that they already control: Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. In Florida, Senator Marco Rubio is cruising to victory alongside his governor, Ron DeSantis. Ted Budd of North Carolina has dominated what was once thought to be a dogfight, but the race has since vanished from the national radar. In Ohio, J.D. Vance- considered by mainstream media types to be “unelectable”- has pulled away from his top-tier competition and is now expected to win handily. None of these races are in jeopardy for the Republicans.
Assuming wins in these three states gives the GOP a total of 48 seats, with three more seats needed to claim the majority. A month ago, Republicans only had hopes in five battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Winning three of these was thought to be no small feat, which explains the mainstream media narrative. Today, the script has flipped. Republicans now lead in the polling averages for all five states. Furthermore, additional states now also look competitive. New Hampshire is currently a dead heat, while the Republican candidates in Washington and Colorado are also in striking distance of an upset.
Previously, Democrats had a valid argument that the Republicans would be forced to run the gauntlet to take Senate control. This is simply no longer the case. The implications of the coming red tsunami are now clear to even the most die-hard liberal. States which should not be available to the GOP are now highly competitive; meanwhile, races that are normally in play for Democrats just aren’t anymore.
Let’s look at the key races, state by state. The races are sorted by rating, from lesser to greater competitiveness.
Battleground State Analysis
States Considered Safe or Not Up For Election: DEM 43, GOP 44
Connecticut: There has only been one poll showing a competitive race here, so it could be nothing. In wave elections, though, there’s always a chance that a race can be tighter than expected. Connecticut has a history of this phenomenon, and the Northeast in general has been under-polled this cycle. Senator Blumenthal should win by double-digits, but if Connecticut can’t be called in the same hour its polls close, watch out.
Florida: The entire Republican ticket wins tonight by ten points. Miami-Dade is no longer the county of the Bush-Gore 2000 recounts. The GOP might actually carry the county tonight, and that fact has national Democrats drinking Pepto Bismol straight from the bottle.
Iowa: Senator Grassley has been in the Senate since 1981. That’s a long time. Though a snapshot from the trusty Des Moines Register showed a 3-point margin a month ago, a new poll from the same reliable source now paints a different, double-digit picture. This race probably should be considered safe, but I always take the Des Moines Register seriously.
North Carolina: The Tar Heel State would host a closer race in a cycle with different fundamentals. Democrats just have no hope to win a “reach” state in a red wave year. GOP nominee Ted Budd came out of the gate running, and hasn’t looked back. Budd now breaks 50% in every poll, meaning there’s not enough undecided vote out there to matter, even if undecideds somehow bucked the national trend and broke against him.
Ohio: Vance is a conservative star on the rise, which is why left-leaning media outlets hate him so much. Democrats spent a whopping $17M in this race in the 3rd quarter alone in an effort to keep Vance out of the Senate. In retrospect, that may have been money poorly spent, as Vance tonight could surpass Trump’s impressive margins in the state. This won’t be due to weak competition, either. Rep. Tim Ryan is in the Democratic House Leadership, and his loss here will be painful for Democrats.
Colorado: The media has talked a lot about “bad GOP candidates” this cycle. Perversely, the worst candidate in my opinion this cycle is the one they like. Joe O’Dea represents the never-Trump faction of (what used to be) the Republican Party. Liberal on social issues, he’s made a campaign out of telling voters he’ll stand up to both Republicans and Democrats. That’s not a bad strategy if your party is unpopular. But when the opposition party is the one in the tank, don’t alienate your base. O’Dea will probably lose; if so, it will be due to his inability to energize conservatives who were hoping for more of a contrast between the candidates. Given that O’Dea appears to be Colorado’s Mitt Romney, most national Republicans will not bemoan this loss. A real missed opportunity for the GOP- Senator Bennett is vulnerable and the race may yet be close.
Washington: Here’s the real sleeper race, even if both sides woke up in a hurry. Senator Patty Murray is one of the most powerful Democratic leaders in the Senate. She’s also now in a cage match with her Republican opponent, Tiffany Smiley, which has to be one of the best last names for a politician in the history of ever. Murray is struggling in the wake of the Seattle riots, and Smiley is making crime the primary issue of the campaign. Factor in the economy, and all of a sudden a deep blue state is looking very purple. The two most accurate polling organizations in 2020 both have this race within the margin of error. I’m leaning the race to Murray only because Smiley has yet to lead in a poll. If there’s a lot of blood in the water tonight, though, Smiley might be one of the sharks.
Georgia: This race started out in strong favor of the incumbent Senator Warnock, but football legend Herschel Walker never quit- even when members of his own party thought he should. Despite numerous scandals threatening his campaign, Walker has come all the way back to take the lead late. The only question remaining is whether or not a run-off can be avoided, as Georgia requires 50% of the vote to win outright. Walker is still the favorite over Warnock even in a run-off, at least for now. However, enough outside money poured into the race over yet another month could give Warnock just enough time and money to close the gap. There’s only about 1% of third-party vote expected, so a run-off is not highly likely unless the race is extremely close. With the current trends, it won’t be necessary. Georgia stands to be the first GOP flip of the night.
Nevada: This is one of the defining races of 2022. Latino turnout matters here more than anywhere else. With Republicans surging among Hispanic voters, Nevada could be the first chip on the table that shows America the new face of the GOP. Adam Laxalt has led the Democratic incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto, for virtually this entire cycle. He can also expect a boost from the governor’s side of the ticket, where popular Clark County sheriff Joe Lombardo likely will overperform in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The Democratic machine, while still powerful, has lost a step from its golden era under Harry Reid. Early vote numbers show Democrats are in trouble in 2022, and it will take a stronger-than-expected surge on Election Day to keep Cortez Masto in office.
Wisconsin: Senator Ron Johnson was once considered the most vulnerable incumbent of 2022. According to the legacy media, he’s an arrogant, anti-climate, election denier and Orange Man ally whose defeat will be a massive blow to Trump’s 2024 bid in the state. Johnson didn’t just embrace these indictments, he rolled them up and swatted his opposition with them like so many flies. This is a close race no longer. Johnson should win by five points, paving the way for Trump to reclaim the state two years from now. A critical battleground in the upcoming ’24 campaign, Wisconsin is also key to Senate control in 2022. Johnson’s expected hold of the seat means the GOP only needs two other wins in route to a majority.
Arizona: National Republicans bailed on Blake Masters early in this campaign. Former astronaut and Democratic Senator Mark Kelly looked to be cruising to an easy victory through September. Since then, however, Masters has surged. As of Election Day, the polling average gives Masters a 0.3% edge- which is no edge at all. This race is as pure of a toss-up as they come. The one advantage Masters has in this race is the governor’s race. Conservative firebrand Kari Lake is likely to demolish Democrat Katie Hobbs, who didn’t bother campaigning for the state’s top office. A wipeout on the top of the ticket can only benefit Masters down-ballot, and the race is trending his way. The issues in Arizona work in his favor, as well; immigration and the economy both impacting the race heavily.
New Hampshire: I don’t understand why this race was never on the radar until the last minute. The Granite State is always home to a competitive Senate race. Even after favorite son Chris Sununu declined to run in favor of keeping his gubernatorial seat, the eventual Republican nominee, General Don Bolduc, clearly has the resume. Five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts go a long way in a state whose motto reads “Live Free or Die.” Incumbent Senator Maggie Hassan has always been relatively unpopular as a senator, so naturally the National Republican Senatorial Committee decided to… not target the state? A Bolduc loss will cause a lot of Republicans to ask questions about the decisions made in this campaign. As it stands, Bolduc should be considered the narrow favorite- but in New Hampshire, anything can happen.
Pennsylvania: In what is arguably the marquee race of the night, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz has a narrow advantage over Lt. Governor John Fetterman. Fetterman’s medical difficulties are now household knowledge, at least to the extent they were revealed. It’s highly probable that, if elected, Fetterman would resign after taking office. The governor, likely to be Democratic, would then offer the appointment to Fetterman’s wife, Gisele, allowing her to serve in John’s stead.
This scenario is probably the only thing driving Democratic turnout. Polls show Fetterman falling swiftly following his abysmal debate performance. The catch: the debate was after early voting was already underway. Oz would otherwise be the odds-on favorite, but we don’t know how many votes the massive GOTV operations in Philadelphia have already logged for the Democrat. Rumor has it that results may be in by Friday… yes Friday. You know, because why not take three days to do what you could do in one. Particularly if it helps you… ahem… pad the vote totals. Fetterman has already filed suit to include legally deficient ballots, and here we go again.
In the House, I’ll go with R+42. It feels like an extraordinary night, and it’s been an extraordinary two years (not in a good way). Given that I could have personally vomited out a better economic record than our President, I’m pretty sure there’s not a soul out there that didn’t at least think about the economy before casting their vote. There’s not too many historical parallels out there, so I’m going on instinct. That result would give Republicans 255 House seats, the most in a century.
The Senate is headed towards 53-47, so I’ll do one better and say 54-46. I think the GOP sweeps both their leans and the toss-ups. I’d even go as far as R+5, if I had anything more than blind hope for Smiley in the Washington race. The odds of her winning are about the same as the odds of the GOP dropping one of the toss-ups, so even a WA upset could be balanced out. Either way, the Republicans will be in control of both Houses come January.
Democrats simply have too many things to have to go their way to keep control. Running the table as a Democrat in AZ, GA, and NH will not be easy to do even in a politically neutral year, which this is not. On top of that, they’d still need a win in Nevada, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, and they’re behind the eight-ball in all three races.
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The 2022 Midterms: Knocking the Narrative, Part III
This article is third in a series of short articles related to the 2022 Midterm Elections. Each article targets a specific narrative being put forward in the media, and evaluates the arguments on their merit. I’ll give the likelihood of each scenario occurring, or an evaluation of the truth or falsehood behind each premise. (If you missed it, click the links for Part I- Biden’s impact on the election, and Part II- the effect of the abortion issue on female voters.)
Narrative 3: The Democrats have a reasonable chance of keeping the House.
Rating: Totally False
If you’ve recently turned on liberal-oriented cable news services like CNN and MSNBC- and judging by the ratings, you haven’t– you may have seen several talking heads selling the case for the Democrats to remain in control of the House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi even recently went on late night TV with Stephen Colbert to talk about the possibility. Legacy media political analysts even give it reasonable chance of happening. Witness this little gem from the New York Times, where Nate Cohen explains the Democratic path to a majority. Further, Nate Silver’s (fivethirtyeight.com) recent models give the Democrats as high as a 3-in-10 odds to hold the House. (Note: Silver has just downgraded the Democratic chances to about 1-in-6.)
In either case, this is as big of a fantasy as your online football team.
Apparently, the media can’t do math.
The numbers simply don’t work. Currently, the Democrats hold a narrow 222-212 majority. The remaining vacated seat (formerly held by the late Jackie Walorski) is considered to be safe for the GOP. That means the Republicans need five more seats to get to the 218 threshold needed to take control. While Silver’s models include outcomes where Democrats gain as many as ten seats, no one really can come up with a realistic scenario of how Democrats can avoid huge losses, much less enjoy gains this November.
Republicans have an advantage in the thrice-fought redistricting battles waged across the country. The GOP stands to gain five seats just from the census generating seats in redder states than blue. That alone will be enough to approach the majority on its own merit. Historically, the incumbent party loses twice the number the GOP needs, even in a good year for the party in power. Raise your hand if you think this has been a good year for the party in power.
Go ahead. I’ll wait…
Economic indicators all point to Republican gains at least in the range of 15 seats, with “red wave” results of close to 25 seats the more normative outcome. RealClearPolitics.com gives a wide range of possibilities for the GOP, anywhere from as few as 15 seats to as many as 48 seats gained, with a mean of +31, based off the seats considered to be in play. This range has increased by about ten seats in the last two weeks. Without taking the time to explain the statistics, both the president’s approval rating and the generic Congressional ballot (polling neutral at best for Democrats) would point to a Republican pick-up comfortably in the double-digits. In no case listed do we see an outcome where the Democrats lose four or fewer seats.
“But what if this isn’t a red wave?”
A similar talking point being floated by the media is that Republicans are not be benefitting from a wave election; therefore, the House must be competitive. This theory is based on the Democrats’ expected range of losses, which is lower than those in previous wave elections. Election models show a range of possibilities that are half of the margins seen in the wave elections of 2010 (R+63) and 2018 (D+41). The GOP could significantly underperform enough to just fall short of a majority if the wave does not materialize. Ergo, no wave means no majority.
I didn’t say it was sound logic.
This notion is a myopic viewpoint that focuses on the net gain, while neglecting the parties’ relative starting positions. No one disputes the GOP enjoyed a wave election in 2014, where they gained 9 Senate seats. Yet in the same year, they only gained 13 seats in the House. That’s because the 13 seats gained were enough to yield the largest Republican majority since 1928. The GOP was already in the majority since 2011, and just expanded it. The larger gains in 2010 and 2018 were due to the gains belonging to minority parties with overall weaker starting positions. In the 2010 election, Republicans started with a mere 179 seats, needing 39 seats just to take the majority. This year, the GOP could get the same 240+ seat majority simply by winning 30 seats instead of over 60.
To crystallize this point, a “red wave” doesn’t necessarily mean a gain of over thirty seats. For a minority party already in striking distance of the majority, you get the same result with fewer seats.
What I think.
As a personal note, I believe the data points to at least a 30-seat gain for the Republicans, and I’d err on the higher end. The “ceiling” for the GOP is higher than normal due to a once-in-a-generation inflation spike. It’s simply a fact that all Democratic candidates in even remotely competitive districts will suffer for it. There will be some surprise upsets that by definition no one will see coming. Those kind of blind-side races skew one direction in a wave election. Unexpected pickups could send the GOP’s gains northward of 40. I’ll post a final, more targeted prediction for Election Day, but my guess is definitely 30+.
Remember, Republicans only need five seats.
It is therefore virtually impossible in any realistic political environment this cycle for the Democrats to hold the House.
Next week: Can the Democrats keep the Senate?
The 2022 Midterms: Knocking the Narrative, Part II
This article is second in a series of short articles related to the 2022 Midterm Elections. Each article targets a specific narrative being put forward in the media, and evaluates the arguments on their merit. I’ll give the likelihood of each scenario occurring, or an evaluation of the truth or falsehood behind each premise.
Narrative 2: Women will surge to the polls to support abortion rights.
Rating: Likely False
The media likes to point to voting outcomes this summer, like the referendum in Kansas, as indicators that the overturning of Roe v. Wade will galvanize female voters to support Democratic senate candidates in November.
I rate this argument as Likely False.
Yes, liberal women in support of abortion rights are heavily energized as a result of the SCOTUS ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson that struck down two landmark decisions that had previously provided the legal basis for abortion on demand. If you were worried that abortion activists were thinking about sitting out this election because of high inflation, well, worry no more. They will be voting and campaigning heavily this fall.
The problem with the “abortion surge” argument is that it’s simply not salient enough to matter on Election Day. A recent NBC poll showed that only 8% of respondents listed abortion as their top issue. Gallup shows half that figure. Despite some push polling published by a few organizations designed to inflate the issue, in every circumstance economic issues take “poll position”, often by margins greater than 4 to 1. Gallup rates the economy as the #1 concern for 38% of Americans. The next closest issue mentioned is a “lack of leadership” (22%). Neither of these issues look promising for the Democrats.
Most people vote on a wide range of issues. Abortion is an issue that, despite its polarizing nature, in truth only directly affects a segment of the population. The economy a highly salient issue that literally affects every American from high school graduates to seniors. Democrats have simply bet on the wrong horse this election.
But… doesn’t abortion impact all women?
It is unreasonable to expect the abortion issue to break completely in the Democrats’ favor. It is a liberal fallacy that abortion rights are for “all women”. In truth, only about 3 in 5 women support abortion on demand; the remaining 40% of women support restrictions, if not outright bans. The pro-life movement has long been a fund-raising source for Republican candidates, just as the pro-abortion movement has done for their Democratic competitors. Look at the history: abortion is a wedge issue with no clear advantage to either side.
The abortion issue also carries a significant “marriage gap”, with single women far more likely to support abortion than not. Married women split more evenly. Thanks to how the life cycle works, they’re also generally older than single women. In other words, the abortion divide generally falls along the same lines as the same party affiliations already established on other issues. Older women vote more Republican than younger women, regardless of the issue. Women over fifty also vote in larger proportions than women in their teens and twenties, so the advantage Democrats possess with the younger bloc is mitigated.
This summer has made one thing crystal clear, however. Voters of both genders (yes, I mean the number two) expect well thought-out abortion policy. As a whole, the nation is coalescing around policies that heavily regulate, while not outright banning abortion. Americans tend to be far less supportive of abortion procedures the later a pregnancy runs. Conversely, they also tend to be less tolerant of rigid laws, particularly without other support mechanisms in place, such as adoption programs and at-risk pregnancy care. Americans aren’t stupid, and the details of policy do matter. Both parties need to remember that simple fact.
Next week: Can the Democrats keep the House?
The 2022 Midterms: Knocking the Narrative, Part I
Over the next four weeks, I will be posting a series of short articles related to the 2022 Midterm Elections. Each article will target a specific narrative being put forward in the media, and evaluate the arguments on their merit. I’ll give the likelihood of each scenario occurring, or an evaluation of the truth or falsehood behind each premise. In the next four weeks, we’ll talk about if the Democrats can outperform Biden’s low approval ratings, the impact the recent abortion rulings will have on female voters, and the Democratic prospects of holding either the House or Senate.
In this first installment, we’ll examine the media’s premise that Democratic Congressional candidates can overcome the burden of President Joe Biden this midterm cycle.
Narrative 1: Democratic candidates will outperform Biden’s approval rating.
Rating: Likely True
You’re probably aware the best indicator of how a party will perform in an election is the President’s approval rating. You’re probably also aware that this fact likely means trouble for the Democrats this fall. Joe Biden is not just unpopular with Republicans and independents; he is also struggling for support within his own party. Even liberal-oriented publications such as The Hill now routinely run stories describing how the Democratic base wants a new nominee in 2024.
President Biden’s approval rating is low by any standard with an average of 43%, though it is up from its nadir of the mid-30s. He’s roughly in the same position as the previous two presidents at this point in the election cycle. Both of those administrations experienced massive losses in the House, and in Obama’s case, the Senate as well. You may approve of Biden’s performance in these last 21 months, but it’s hard not to notice that most Americans view his presidency as problematic. Thus, Democrats have been trying to argue that their slate of candidates will outperform the leader of their party, staving off annihilation at the polls next month.
I would concur that, on the surface, this is a likely probability.
The reasoning is simple: dissatisfied Democrats will still likely vote for their own party’s candidates. When a president’s approval is this far underwater (currently a net negative of -10%), part of the reason is a lack of support from within his own party. Just because you’re a Democrat that doesn’t like Biden doesn’t mean you don’t want your own party to succeed. You’ll still turn out to vote for the governor or senator you like, and probably the House candidate as well. After all, do you really want Trump back in office in two years working with a bunch of Republicans?
If you look at the charts, this reasoning holds true. Biden’s disapproval has leveled off some from its peaks in July. This correlates to the reduction of gas prices that are slowly dropping from the previous, unsustainable levels. That isn’t to say that fuel costs aren’t still a problem- they are, and massively. However, the bandage applied by draining the strategic petroleum reserve will possibly keep prices stable until (conveniently) after the midterms.
As a result, Biden’s net disapproval is down by half in the last three months. Internals of these polls show a gain among Democratic voters, but not a gain among independents- the latter has actually dropped further. The “drop” in gas prices (in Biden’s world, going from $2 to $4 back to $3 is a net decrease) will give Democrats the cover needed to justify coming home to the fold. Fuel costs are both the most noticeable and important to the inflationary pressures the country is feeling. While Republicans and independents may not put much faith into it, right now all the Democrats need is an argument. “Things are returning to normal, even if they aren’t there yet,” doesn’t sound great, but it’s something.
The premise of the original statement is flawed. Though the national media is correct with their assumption that the Democratic slate of candidates can outperform Biden, it’s simply the wrong argument to begin with. To me, the question is not if, but by how much, Democratic candidates will run ahead of Biden’s approval rating.
You need roughly 50% of the vote to get elected. The further behind Biden lags, the further ahead the Democrats have to run in order to win these races. Right now, that’s a lot of ground to make up in many of these battleground states. It’s a lot easier to get to 50% if Biden polls at 45% compared to 40%. In the latter case, most every Democrat is in trouble.
Biden’s bigger problem isn’t that he’s unpopular; it’s why he’s unpopular. Despite the foreign policy debacles, such as last year’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal, America’s economic issues are Biden’s real albatross. He’s currently below 40% with a net -20.6% approval in his handling of economic policies. It’s really hard to turn out your base when your pocketbook is hurting. The affluent liberal elite won’t be affected much, but Biden’s poor economic record- particularly on that of inflation- will depress turnout among those struggling financially. Disillusioned Democrats may not necessarily vote Republican as a result, but they may very well stay home.
Even though it will be easy for Democrats to outperform Biden with a low-40s approval rating, they have to do so significantly in order to be nationally competitive. That is a tall order given the state of the economy. Inflation is over 8%. The economy is in recession by every traditional definition. The stock market, once touted by Joe Biden as a signature achievement, is down nearly 20% for the year. It should be no surprise that Democrats can expect strong headwinds going into November.
Next Week: The impact of the abortion rulings on female voters.
West Brook fights continue with 5 broken bones in the face of the victim.
Missing 15 year old from Cypress could be spotted in our area
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