It’s early morning on the East Coast and as I watch the returns role in from the midterms, I am struck by how the results are looking like supporting the status quo. No significant change. No red wave.
So, yay, I guess.
The question is, how do we make sense of what we’ve seen? What does it tell us about the psyche, psychology, status of the electorate right now? There’s lots of things to consider, so bear with me:
We all know how I feel about hot takes, but here are some simple and perhaps obvious take aways:
- DEMOCRACY survives for another two years. We’ll go into more detail, but most of the Big Lie, especially the secretaries of state candidates lost, and there was no sweeping change in governorships, state legislatures, or proportions of party membership in Congress.
- GERRYMANDERING WORKS! Just look at Florida, Illinois, Texas, and a couple of other states that I’m not thinking of right off. Please feel free to add them in the comments.
- TRUMP’S IRRELEVANT. He’s a dead man walking. He doesn’t know it, but election 2022 was his swan song. But, it doesn’t matter. The authoritarian streak in the GQP isn’t going anywhere.
- VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKS! Just look at Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, and a number of other states. Again, discuss in the comments.
- JOE BIDEN! Historically, the outcome is historical. To not have just out and out lost the House is a minor miracle. Biden doesn’t get enough credit for how effective he’s been as president on every fucking front there is, foreign and domestic policy, economics, electoral, judicial. Trump had the fecal touch, Biden has the winning touch. Shows you what hard work and preparation can do for you.
Just What the Fuck, White People?
Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with white people? Don’t we like our Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security? Don’t we like our reproductive rights? Don’t we like healthcare? Don’t we like infrastructure? Don’t we like competent leadership? Effective legislation and executive policies? I guess we don’t because we voted in big numbers to flush the whole kit and kaboodle down the toilet… AGAIN!
Here’s the AP breakdown of the vote according to the Washington Post:
- WHITE PEOPLE : 57% — as ciphered so far — voted Republicans. Just unfucking believable.
- ALL WOMEN: 59% voted Democratic, but that includes PoC. I’m still waiting to see the break down.
- White College Educated Women: 62% voted Democratic, so there’s that.
- INDEPENDENT VOTERS: 53% voted for Republicans.
These percentages are likely to change as ALL of the votes are counted over the next few weeks, but these numbers line up with the voting percentages from 2016, 2018, and 2020.
It supports the thesis that white people are vulnerable to the siren call of racist dog whistles. Given the percentages of non-college educated white people voting Republican, it is no wonder that Republicans are trying to control education and using the racist trope of CRT.
That the Democrats are holding their own and even if the Republicans take control of the House, it was the Biden coalition of Blacks, Hispanics, college educated whites, and millenials that did it.
It’s a blue wave in the sense that the status quo in Congress won’t really change even if the Democrats lose control of either or both chambers, especially given Biden’s approval rating being in the mid-forties. That’s unheard of, and something for the history books to celebrate, I guess, but it won’t be worth much if it stymies Biden’s agenda, which has been effective, and allows the GQP to ravage democracy at the state level.
But, hey, we didn’t follow the historical electoral trend! Tell your grandkids.
Split Ticket Voting
It’s weird how Republicans split their vote. I think it is safe to assume that MAGA voted straight Republican, but there must still be a small percentage of non-MAGA Republican picking and choosing just how cray-cray they want the government to be.
- GEORGIA: They voted for Kemp for governor and the libertarian for senate, so advantage — just barely — Warnack. We’ll see if there is a runoff and what happens. But, where were the Republican women voting for reproductive rights, safeguarding democracy, the coalition of reasonable people?
- WISCONSIN: The incumbent Democratic governor is reelected, and, so is the incumbent Republican senator. What explains that? A coalition of non-MAGA and MAGA Republicans split their governor-senator vote favoring the election denying, conspiracy theorizing, Russian propagandist, nonsense spewing Johnson over their gubernatorial candidate? What he went too far with all that crap or not enough? How does this make sense?
- NEVADA: The election deniers in Nevada are leading as of this writing, but there seems to be enough outstanding votes in Democratic leaning counties that Cortez-Masto could win the senate seat and Aguilar, secretary of state, but the governor and lieutenant governor seem to be out of reach. Luckily, the Dem lead in the attorney general race there seems safe.
It tells you that the MAGA vote probably didn’t split its vote, it’s the iNdEpEnDeNt VoTeR that split their vote. WTF?!? It can only mean one thing: white independents went Republican… AGAIN.
Turn Out vs Voter Suppression Measures
Other than Dems not getting their asses handed to them as is the usual in midterms for the party holding the White House, especially when the president’s approval rating is in the mid to low forties, the other big surprise is voter turnout. This was presidential election level turn out.
People were motivated to vote. Fear and anger are probably the two biggest motivators of human behavior, with fear beating anger as the biggest motivator. Let’s break it down by party:
Democrats and Liberals
- ROE v. WADE & DOBBS: Taking away a fifty year history of reproductive rights and clearly threatening to come after more, turned out to scare the shit out of a lot of people. Conservatives framed it as big government taking away a right — that’s why we have our guns! Ironic isn’t it? And liberals framed it as big government taking away our rights — that’s why we protest and vote. See, the difference? While it seemed to motivate the conservatives of Kansas to vote for reproductive rights, it doesn’t seem to have translated into voting for candidates that support reproductive right.
- VOTER SUPPRESSION: As much as Kemp, DeSantis, Abbott, and other Republican governors deny it, everyone recognized every voter role purge, every removed dropbox, every shortened early voting period, every increase in niggling details for mail in or early voting, and every photo ID or mailing address requirement as an attempt to stop people from voting. And, it pissed them off. It motivated them to get out and vote.
- THREATS TO DEMOCRACY: Big Lie spouting conspiracy spewing GQP candidates, takeovers of boards of education and other local government entities, community fights over library books, threats of physical violence and actual acts of physical violence against liberal politicians and neutral bureaucrats clearly represent threats to our democratic way of life, such as it is. The message of, you can’t be for democracy only when you win, seems to have hit home. Liberals, especially millennials, were pissed off and afraid, y’all.
- Liberals turned out y’all. They were pissed off and weren’t going to take it anymore.
Republicans and Conservatives
Republicans always run on fear mongering. People who are afraid, vote conservative, especially when white people are afraid of Black people. OMG, Cory Booker is going to lead the immigrant caravan to move in next door, behead us all, give us Ebola, rape our fathers, rob our daughters, steal our dogs, and take our jerbs! Pass us the alcohol, opioids, and guns, so I can cope!
Yeah, the Republican talking points followed a predictable path:
- CRIME CRIME & MORE CRIME! This dog whistle needs a new reed, but it still got some white folks to polls.
- INFLATION! Joe Biden is selling us to the Chinese and wants to bankrupt us all just to put his fiendish green new deal plot into action to save us all from — god forbid — climate change! As ludicrous as casting Biden as a super villain whose plot to take over the world involves mitigating climate change sounds, it worked on the mass psychosis that is pervasive among the right.
- IMMIGRATION: The Blacks and Browns are coming to steal our jobs and take away our way of life and turn us into Venezuela.
- THE BIG LIE: Vote Repube to stop voter fraud! All Democratic votes are fraudulent. Only Republicans can and should vote.
- FIGHT TO SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY! And, Paul Pelosi takes a hammer to the head.
The grievance politics that Trump perfected has kept conservatives living in a toxic stew of anxiety, anger, and fear for decades. It is one reason they vote in the primaries and the general elections in higher numbers than the numerically superior Democratic-liberal coalition.
The miracle of 2022 was that liberals felt enough fear and anger to actually vote. We have saved democracy for two more years, but we are just creaking along. The Republican assault on our democracy is not over. We’ve won a skirmish. There’s still lots more cray-cray to come.
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