The Muddy Picture of the 2022 Midterms

We all know about the built-in advantages Republicans will enjoy in next year’s midterms. It’s nearly always the case that the party not in the White House cleans up in the midterms. And thanks to Manchin and Sinema we’re not going to get election reform, so congressional GOP candidates can rely on gerrymandering and voter suppression to ensure victory. Those factors will be really hard to overcome. Is there any way Democrats can hang on to the Senate and House?

In the Senate, Republicans will be defending 20 seats and Democrats 14. Five of those Republican seats are “open”; the Republicans holding those seats now are not running again. As of now, all of the Democratic incumbents are running again. So there is opportunity there. Current forecasts give Democrats some hope of hanging on. But the House is expected to flip. It may not, of course, but the odds that it won’t are considerably long. The advantage of Republican gerrymandering is just too strong.

It’s also the case that, however, we’re heading into unknown territory here. And that’s because the Republican Party is so tied to Trump. Barring some unforeseen disaster in the Biden Administration, I have a hard time imagining that the educated urbanites and suburbanites who voted for Democrats in 2018 and 2020 will find a bunch of Trumpy, hard-right Republican candidates all that palatable. And that might help Democrats keep the Senate.

As for the House, Kevin McCarthy seems determined to make the Republican House races as Trumpy as possible. McCarthy has met with Trump several times to discuss the midterms for the House. Seriously. Greg Sargent wrote last week that McCarthy is trying to portray the Trump administration as a lost golden age, and if only Democrats hadn’t taken over, everything would be great again now. The story is that Trump left Biden a country in great shape, and Biden has already screwed it all up. Sargent:

But telling the GOP base an absurd, lurid, emotionally charged fiction is central to GOP midterm hopes: The Trump era represented an idyllic age that has been torn asunder from Republican voters, who in their fury, deprivation and victimization should storm out in 2022 to avenge it all.

The success of this strategy will depend a lot on what happens between now and November 2022. Certainly the American voting public has a long history of gullibility regarding politicians selling snake oil. But sometimes they do recognize the snake oil for what it is, if the sales pitch isn’t matching their personal experience. (Example: Remember George Bush’s campaign to privatize Social Security?)

Right now, economic forecasts for the U.S. economy — the ones not generated by right-wing think tanks or Fox Business News, anyway — are really, really good. The IMF is projecting that the U.S. economy will grow by 7 percent in 2021. Especially if the infrastructure bills pass this year, 2022 ought to be a good year for most Americans, and a better year for working class Americans than they’ve had in a long time. And by then the supply and staffing issues driving shortages and price hikes will have worked out. And in that case, the story that Biden screwed up the great economy Trump built may be hard to sell outside the Trump Cult.

It’s also the case that people outside the Trump Cult were not happy with the January 6 insurrection. There’s a member’s-only analysis at Talking Points Memo that I recommend, if you’re a member. In summary, Republican House candidates will depend on staying in Trump’s good graces to get past the primaries. This makes the House select committee to investigate the insurrection a real hot potato for McCarthy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced this week that the Jan. 6 select committee would hold its first hearing on July 27, kicking off its review of the insurrection with “firsthand” testimony from Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers. That means McCarthy has a pseudo deadline for appointing members to the committee (which Pelosi can veto), but he hasn’t made any movement on that front and has not even confirmed that he will pick people to begin with (Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is the only Republican Pelosi’s appointed to the committee.)

McCarthy could appoint GOP members who will be vocal in their defense of Trump, or who will also take the work seriously to appease those suburban Republican voters disenchanted with the former president and/or disturbed by the insurrection. It’s a tough needle to thread leading up to the midterms — which is why Republicans were against the commission in the first place; they were worried about the negative impact a review of a Trumpian coup might have on midterm messaging.

It’s expected that McCarthy will be advised by Trump on whom to choose. But the January 6 investigations, plus Trump’s ongoing legal jeopardies, could have a big impact on the political landscape in the next few months.

Another wild card is covid recovery. Things could get better, or they could get worse. If they get worse, will voters in general blame Joe Biden? Or will they blame the red state deadheads who refused to get vaccinated?

6 thoughts on “The Muddy Picture of the 2022 Midterms

  1. Gerrymandering can work like spreading too little peanut butter over too much bread. It gets thin in spots. The theory (regardless of which party does it) is to deliberately create a supermajority for one party in one (or more) districts. By packing as many urban dems in a single district, several adjoining suburban districts have a slight majority for the GOP (and potentially a lot more independents who usually vote GOP.)

    Here's the rub. The GOP majority gets thinner and thinner the more districts you try to grab. And if the tide is running against you, a 58% majority for the GOP won't be enough if Independents turn against Republicans. And the USSC may overturn Roe just before 2022 – Evangelicals will turn handsprings and independent women may  wonder if conservatism is bad politics for women's equality. 

    Just HOW out of hand will Covid get? I'm not praying for fatalities but I'm furious about GOP propaganda in opposition to getting the vaccine.  If the GOP takes the blame for Covid during Trump's tenure and during Biden's term for the failure of conservatives to line up behind vaccination, they take a hit in 2022. 

    Trump is not smart enough NOT to back a full-blown Trumpist lunatic in a marginal district. That will cost the GOP if the Republican candidate is a cross between Green and Gaetz in a district ravaged by Covid where the largest segment of the electorate is independent. 

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  2.   Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang wrote a quote good enough to get credit and repetition by Maureen Dowd today in her NYT opinion piece today.  As both are NYT writers she might as well give them a plug for their book: An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebooks Battle for Domination.  It did not take commenters long to generalize to any corporation's battle for domination.  I would go a little broader, and include any organization or political party on failures path.  The path of the Republican Party who's slogan seems to be:  Back to the zoo in 22.  

    Democrats need to make the right to vote the rallying cry for the upcoming election.  Turnout is essential, especially for those who oppose the return of the Debacle.  If they turn out in force again, the results should be promising.  So far I see good motivation to thwart the attempt to disenfranchise the majority and disable our democracy.  If the party deploys it's resources well and effectively, we can override the curse of the midterms.  The Cubs overcame the curse of the goat, and the Red Socks the curse of the Bambino.  It can be done.  

    So too do the Republican face a curse, a one-term leader with a failed administration that has a stranglehold on the party.  In spite of efforts to revise and deny recent history, it remains an ugly truth that refuses to blur or go away.  It is the product of organizational aim, when the goal of the organization becomes solely that of domination.  

    Here is the quote which evidences this organizational defect:

     Don’t bring the boss bad news or push back. Exercise willful blindness about the disaster around the corner, and then, once it arrives, manage it badly. Put the syndicate over democracy. Blame others for your mistakes, especially the unfair media. Present yourself as doing good for the world when you’re doing bad.

    Some of us have bitter personal anecdotes reading this may may evoke.  This tends to be a common effect of a really ugly truth.  

     

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  3. On the dark sid…

    On the "plus" side, refusal to take the vaccine means fewer potential RepubliKKKLAN voters by next November.

    The sheep are leading themselves to slaughter.  But in the meantime, we have to listen. to 'the whining of the lambs.'

    On a serious note:  Hopefully, by the end if this year, the infrastructure billS – both of them – and voting rights bills, will have passed, so the Dems can make their message to voters nationwide about the vast improvements they've made in people's lives.

    And we need EFFECTIVE, UNIFIED, messaging.

    But aye, there's the rub!  Democrats SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK at messaging!!!

    So, FSM help us.

  4. The Trump era represented an idyllic age that has been torn asunder from Republican voters, who in their fury, deprivation and victimization should storm out in 2022 to avenge it all.

    Makes sense when you think of it in the context of "I want my country back," the expression of angst, fear and outright anger that resonated for eight years, that "their" country was gone simply by virtue of a black man being president of it.  Didn't matter that, as presidents go, Obama was decent, a good family man free of scandal who managed the country well, who went out of his way to be non threatening to them.  But in their minds, just being black and president meant he was an existential threat to the US and white people. 

    Enter Trump, having positioned himself as a truly “white president,” who didn't just give it back to them, but essentially said it was okay to be out loud and proud about the racist motivations that drove them, hence the explosion of incidents of public racism and bigotry  He also worked to make sure any guilt feelings hounding their consciences, such as they were, over their innate feelings of bigotry and superiority, and the history of it in this country would be whitewashed, suppressed even, e.g. out of sight, out of mind, as Trump, tirelessly and simultaneously, worked on the mainstreaming of white supremacy, from Charlottesville in 2017 to the Capitol in 2021.  As a result, a lot of 'em came to see open expression of racism as a badge of courage, a showing of support for their Fuhrer, a very dangerous situation for non-whites, and white people who don't buy into their delusions, fears and hatreds.  Those two groups together constitute a solid  majority, and Biden having won thanks to their support, is what's driving the fear and delusion anew ("Biden couldn't have possibly gotten 81 million votes!"), and hence all the lies, threats and the drive to institute some form of permanent minority, authoritarian rule, starting with the undermining of trust in our elections.  Rick Santorum gave the game away the other day when he lied and said the Constitution was designed to protect minority rule (sic), never mind the basic fact that the basis of democracy is one man, one vote.

    Having had a taste of a "golden age" with Trump, (not to mention what he could have done with a second term in that regard) that they believe could have only ended by theft, they're not going back.  They'll never accept democracy, and democrats can forget about getting enough republicans to go along with them to protect.  Even if some republicans wake up enough to realize the danger, its too late.  We're at a stage right now where we need to crush them, politically, by outvoting them at the polls.  Its the only way.

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    • Footnote: the right has a lot on its side: money, institutional power, media, and the preponderance of the political establishment.  In this I count the GOP, and the centrist democrats.  All we have is the vote.  If we lose that, e.g. the ability to have votes tallied and counted without political interference, we're done.

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  5. Let's postulate on the dominant issue of the midterms – Covid success.  It will be the perception of voters on THAT issue, more than any other that sways voters who could go either way. If you look at it that way, can one foresee what will happen this year to frame the issue of next year for the midterms? 

    If the former first citizen joined with Biden and the CDC to get more people immunized, which side deserves "credit" might be up for grabs. Unfortunately, the pinhead staked his claim yesterday.

    "Joe Biden kept talking about how good of a job he's doing on the distribution of the Vaccine that was developed by Operation Warp Speed or, quite simply, the Trump Administration. He's not doing well at all. He's way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don't trust his Administration, they don't trust the Election results, and they certainly don't trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth."

    SO I don't see how you can predict any surge to get the vax – not by the doubters. Only Trump might have changed their minds and he will sacrifice them in order to strike at Biden. How big will the die-off be?

    If one-third of the US population refuses the vax and almost everyone refuses to participate in masks and social distancing, we have a total vulnerable population of 100 million (just over.) And I'm not wearing a mask to protect people who won't get a shot. I'm (statistically) not at risk whether I practice social distancing or not. I might be a carrier of  Covid to someone who won't acknowledge science. I'm willing to test his theory on him.

    If half the 'vulnerable' population gets the Delta variant, that's 50 million. If the current lethality rate of 2% holds, that's 1 million people. The doubling rate in 2020 until Trump declared a national emergency and social distancing kicked in was about every four days. No social distancing, 2 thousand became 4 thousand became 8 thousand…

    Now – with no social distancing and half the population immunized, the doubling rate is weekly, which makes sense – only half as many hosts available so the doubling rate is longer.  In both cases (early 2020 and now), little to no social distancing. 

    National Covid fatalities have doubled (nearly) in the last ten days from 150 to almost 300 daily. Let's presume that's a bonus from 4th of July festivities and the "real" doubling rate is longer than that, every 21 days. So if you start with a baseline of 2000 fatalities weekly and double every three weeks, (in thousands) 2K Now…4K Aug7…8K Sept 1…16K Sept 21 …32K Oct 14…64K Nov 7…128K Dec 1…256K Around the 1st of 2022.  That's a quarter-million fatalities weekly to start 2022. 

    You tell me. Who gets the credit and who gets the blame in the midterms?

    Is that impossible? We peaked out at over 25K per week when half the population abandoned social distancing with 100% of the population vulnerable. (January this year) With zero social distancing and the most vulnerable (non-vaxed) people deliberately ignoring all precations to 'own the libs', the rate of infection could be high. If I'm only half-right, we're going to equal the pre-vax dead-body totals in a post-vax 2021 where the fatalities are almost all on one side of the aisle and the concentrations of fatalities are worst in red rural areas with a medical system that was teetering before Covid.

    Please. someone tell me where I'm wrong.

     

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