The Mahablog

Politics. Society. Group Therapy.

The Mahablog

Midterm Elections: No Red Wave, No Iceberg

The first headline I saw this morning was about the red wave that wasn’t, so I figured it was safe to check returns. (Congratulations John Fetterman!) As I write this there are four Senate contests that are still too close to call — Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska. Dems need win only two of those to keep the 50-vote majority. Of course, a 52-vote majority would be even better. Some of these states still have a lot of votes to count, and the Georgia contest might go to a runoff, so we probably won’t know about the Senate today.

The House is still up for grabs, too. I’m reading that Republicans will likely end up with an 8- to 15-seat majority, a big comedown from what they expected. Which brings me to the gripe that 17 Republican incumbent House members ran unopposed yesterday. What’s up with that? I realize these probably are considered “safe” seats and not worth wasting money contesting, but some of them were in “purple” states, like Pennsylvania. And it’s always possible some “safe” Republican candidate will be caught with his pants down, and the “safe” seat is suddenly not so safe. Every seat matters.

Yesterday Missouri passed a referendum (by 53% of the vote as of this morning) legalizing marijuana for recreational use. This was not a big surprise; the surprise was that there was hardly anything said about this issue either in news media or television advertising over the past several weeks. I bet a lot of voters didn’t know the referendum was on the ballot. I am guessing the Republicans who run the state wanted to keep it quiet, thinking that a person who votes for legal pot might also vote for Democrats. But that doesn’t excuse news media.

Last week we got an absolutely hilarious robo-call from my MAGA U.S. representative, Jason Smith, in which Smith was ranting that legalizing pot would lead to teaching Critical Race Theory in schools. I am not kidding. Smith currently has 76% of the vote, with 56% of votes counted. And this is why we can’t have nice things.

I have no idea when legal pot goes into effect, but I hope it’s before the next election.

Big Loser last night was Donald Trump. His anointed candidates were mostly responsible for dragging down Republican wins.  Aaron Blake writes at WaPo that Trump cost Republicans the Senate in 2020, and it looks like he will cost them the Senate again this year.

Republicans gave Trump a pass after the 2020 Georgia runoffs, seemingly in part because the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his supporters (which transpired the next day) so abruptly shifted the focus and because they decided the impeachment process that followed demanded a united front. And they no doubt fear what Trump could do to the party if it turns on him, which will temper any true reckoning with what Trump has wrought in the 2022 election.

But in 2020, Trump became the first president since the Great Depression to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in a single term. And you’d think ushering the party to a potential loss of a very winnable Senate majority and a subpar midterm election might cause certain people to decide maybe this isn’t working for them.

They’ll probably just hope that it blows over — a tack they have almost always taken — and that DeSantis or someone else will come to their rescue in 2024 without forcing them to confront all of this. But they had a chance to attempt a full break with Trump in early 2021, and no doubt many of them are ruing that they didn’t force the issue then.

The bigger question, seems to me, is what will Republican mega-donors do? The deep pocket guys aren’t necessarily Trump supporters or election deniers, but they gave many millions of dollars to Super PACs that funded MAGA election denier candidates. And many if not most of those candidates lost yesterday. At what point (assuming they haven’t already) do they put in the phone calls to tell the RNC to cut ties with Trump, or they’re putting their wallets away?

Today there are reports from credible sources (like Maggie Haberman) that Trump is absolutely enraged and screaming at everyone today about why they advised him to back such loser candidates. And the GOP is pressuring Trump to not announce he is running for POTUS again in 2024, an announcement that is expected next week. I understand they had to practically bribe him to keep him from announcing before the midterms. He wants to declare very early to discourage challengers and also, I assume, to be able to claim that he can’t be prosecuted if he’s a credible presidential candidate. But he was expecting to be able to gloat about how his candidates were big winners, and now he can’t do that. His big party at Mar-a-Lago last night fizzled, and now the estate is under evacuation orders because of Tropical Storm Nicole. I don’t know if the Trumps evacuated.

Today Ron DeSantis is suddenly looking like the front runner for 2024, and other ambitious Republicans are also probably making phone calls today to put their exploratory committees together. After yesterday it should be obvious that Trump would be a big risk and top-of-the-ticket buzzkill for the GOP if he runs in 2024. This makes me suspect that a whole lot of Powers That Be on the Right, like Mitch McConnell, the RNC, Fox News, and the rest of right-wing media, are less likely to go to the wall defending Trump when the indictments begin. It would be better for their party if Trump goes down with criminal charges and is out of contention, and the sooner the better. Surely most of them in the upper echelons of the Republican party realize that now.