So What About Those Midterms, Huh?

I’m still digesting the midterm post-mortems. Item one: The polls. I understand the better quality polls were mostly accurate, or respectably close. Yet before the midterms we kept hearing that Democrats were just about facing extinction. Dana Milbank addressed this:

The headlines coming into Tuesday’s elections almost uniformly predicted a Democratic wipeout. … I was baffled. What were they seeing that I and, more important, the Democratic operatives I spoke to weren’t seeing? Back in mid-August, I wrote a column titled “Why that red wave might end up a ripple.” I noted that Democrats had pulled even on the “generic ballot” — which party voters prefer for Congress — at a time in the cycle when the incumbent president’s party is almost always losing ground. Democrats’ standing receded slightly since then, but the contests remained extremely tight. The races were stable, both in public polling and in the private polling I had seen.

So, one, the headline writers and a whole lot of pundits were snookered by the junk GOP polls in the closing weeks of the campaign. And of course they were looking to history and the fact that the President’s party nearly always loses big in the midterms. “They were also swayed by some reputable polling organizations that, burned by past failures to capture MAGA voters, overweighted their polls to account for that in ways that simply didn’t make sense. And reporters fell for Republican feints and misdirection, as Republican operatives successfully created an artificial sense of momentum by talking about how they were spending money in reliably blue areas,” Milbank wrote.

They might also have been thrown off by the betting markets, which were spectacularly wrong. Basically, groupthink and conventional wisdom were just certain that the Republicans would have a roaring success last Tuesday, and few people were thinking out of that box. Instead, we had Catherine Rampell of WaPo, who was far from the worst offender, scolding the Democrats for drowning in denial. I’m still looking forward to her next column.

Item Two: Regarding Donald Trump, today there are oceans of headlines calling Trump the “biggest loser” and blaming him for GOP losses. Jonathan Chait declared that the Republican elite are ready to move against Trump. And I don’t doubt that the Republican elite would really like Trump and his whole misbegotten family and hangers-on to disappear. At this point he’s only going to be in the way. But I agree with Josh Marshall on this one:

Moving away from Trump, though, will be a lot harder than it looks.

To state the obvious, Trump will not go quietly. In recently days he’s become increasingly bold and threatening toward DeSantis. This isn’t a matter of strength. He clearly feels threatened by DeSantis. And he should. He has announced what will likely be a campaign announcement for November 15th. He wants to make it explicitly clear before any more time goes by that any moves DeSantis makes toward the nomination are moves against Trump. Republicans have to choose sides.

I don’t discount the possibility that DeSantis could beat Trump for the 2024 nomination. I don’t think it’s likely. But I do think it’s very possible. But if DeSantis can beat Trump, Trump can also inflict a huge amount of damage on DeSantis and the whole Republican party. Do we really expect Trump to go quietly? To have his last chapter be one of ignominious defeat? I doubt it.

So many times the Republican leadership has made noises about moving on from Trump and then gone running back to him. Having him around is bad for their party, but pushing him away might be even worse. He’ll burn down the whole circus if he doesn’t get to be the headline act. I suspect a lot of them secretly are counting on Trump being wiped out by criminal and civil indictments and suits over the next few months, which would get him out of the way before the 2024 primary campaigns get off the ground. They can talk into microphones that it’s just terrible what those Democrats are doing to Donald Trump, and then walk away.

Item Three: It turns out that crime, inflation, and border security weren’t the sure-fire winning issues Republicans thought they were. Inflation was a primary concern for a lot of voters and inspired them to vote for Republicans, especially in House races. But abortion was still on a lot of voters’ minds.

To the obvious surprise of the on-air talent, abortion came in a close second to inflation: 31% said inflation was their top issue but 27% said abortion was. Despite late pre-election polls showing abortion sinking to third or fourth place or disappearing, there are several reasons why the issue never really went away.

The “several reasons” mostly boil down to women voting in larger numbers than men, and a majority of women voted for Democrats. Abortion criminalizers did badly in a lot of states, although there are exceptions. The GOP elites might want to reconsider staying in bed with the anti-choice crew.

Now there’s somewhere I need to be, so I’ll post what I’ve written so far. There’s a lot to discuss.

28 thoughts on “So What About Those Midterms, Huh?

  1. When I lived in NC there was a completely unpredicted snowstorm in April (I think). Temp & humidity were right for snow but the forecasters ignoring the physics and predicted based on the calendar. I think the as same thing happened here.

  2. You can't be too rich or too thin some say, but at the extremes there are problems.  Still true until now is you can't be too far to the right.  This seems to be true in getting the republican nomination to this day. That might be changing at this point, as the extremes did not fare well in the midterms.  Beyond today there may be more consideration by the party as to electability.  

    You might note that I used 'too far to the right' rather than conservative in respect for Liz Cheney who self identifies as a conservative.  

    Michelle Goldberg wrote to this point today in the NYT.  Here is a quote:

    MAGA acolytes, it turns out, are the ones trapped in a bubble, convinced by Fox News, right-wing radio, social media and their own sense of entitlement that they’re the only authentic tribunes of the American volk. “People just want the circus to stop,” Frisch said. Even if Boebert somehow ekes out a win, last night suggests he’s right.

    Oh my. Trapped in a bubble.  Convinced…they're the only authentic tribunes of the American volk.  Too far right of conservative is rapidly approaching freak show.

  3. I have long held the belief that trump has dossiers on the important repubs that he will use to smear and embarrass. His comment to DeSantis points in that direction.Lindsey Graham's behavior bolsters that. His former "fixer" has said on many occasions trump will indeed burn the circus down if he doesn't get his way ,and trump's niece says that also. I'm happy to see how the mid terms went with the exception of MTG and that crazy Boebert. Both are malignant mix of crotch lice and fascism. Hopefully we are on a new path, but the gun totin' crazies will still be lurking. 

    • Trump prolly has dossiers on most prominent ( = visible) Republican politicians, but to the Real GOP, those are all expendable pieces, and most (like McConnell) are past their sell-by date anyway.

      The truly "important" Republicans are behind the scenes: not the politicians, not even the heads of the institutions (Federalist Society, etc) which are the machinery of the party, but the Zillionaires who fund those institutions.  We – and even Trump – don't even know the names of most of that cabal.  And Trump may have enough dirt to sink a politician like DeSantis, but he won't have enough dirt to even dent a Zillionaire like Koch. 

  4. I was reasonably calm before this election.  A very un-gulag behaviour.

    And one of the major reasons was listening to RepubliKKKLANs and their spokes-punTWITS.

    To them, the Dobbs decision was old news.

    This election was about inflation!  INFLATION!!  I-N-F-L-A-T-I-O-N!!!


    Before the election, Chris Christie gave me hope that the GQP (how long will Q last now?) was missing the forest for the trees.

    Christie said something to the effect that abortion was unimportant, because women were worried about the economy.

    Uh, Chris.  Really?

    Since when does having and raising kids not affected a family financially?  Economically?  I mean, of course, families with butlers, maids, and au pairs may not feel too big a pinch.  But most folks?  C'mon

    And after Roe, now that they could, why wouldn't many – if not most – people want to plan their familie so that they can get to, and maintain, the standard of living they desire, work towards.  (Hopefiully, '20 & '22 will be remembered as the last of Reaganism, and back to the future – which is a resurrection of FDR, and his message of 'The Four Freedoms."  How long's it been since you even heard of "The Four Freedoms?).

    So once I heard their nonsense, I knew there was room for optimism.

    And then just the other day, Frank Luntz was on The Cup o' Schmoe & Mika Show, and he was talking about the RepubliKKKLANs, and their near term future.  Luntz said, same as Christie, that abortion has nothing to do with the economy going forward.

    Ok, fellah's!

    You keep thinking that!

    Oh, and  try to pass a national abortion ban, GQP, if you do end up controlling the House.


    I DAREZ YA TO!!!!!!

  5. Apologies for one more Katie Porter posting, but her pre-pubescent son gave a speech at her victory party (still lots of votes to count), and it's remarkable that he did it all from memory, connected well with the friendly audience, and does nothing but inspire hope for him and his generation. I can't imagine being a child of such an inspiring parent, to see what he's going to become. I follow an Indian guru named Sadhguru, collect his sayings, one of them is: If you make yourself into something truly wonderful, your children will look up and listen to you.

    Some unhappy news: Lauren Boebert is starting to pull ahead of her opponent. I mistakenly thought she would disappear after Nov 8. My euphoria was misplaced.

  6. If a giant Sequoia tree falls on Wall Street in the middle of midterms, would anyone notice it?  

    Probably not by very many is my guess.

    Yes, I am OT but some day this midterm will be over and you may need to act quickly on this one. 

    Crypto currencies are in a meltdown, and this NYT article is a must read.  

    The Crypto Ponzi Scheme Avenger – The New York Times (

    Here is a tease:

    By March, he had crafted a new online identity: crypto Ponzi scheme buster. Mr. de Hek has since denounced HyperFund in more than 130 videos posted to YouTube, some of them nearly two hours long, lecturing viewers in a style that toggles between goofball and scold.

    “When I looked into HyperFund, to me it just seemed black and white,” Mr. de Hek said during one of several interviews from his home in Christchurch. “Then I thought, I need to warn people about this.”

    Mr. de Hek is one of the few voices flagging crypto-based Ponzi schemes, which U.S. investigators say are a severely underpublicized scourge. The past week has shown just how volatile the market is: One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, FTX, collapsed and the industry, is in meltdown.‌

    Credit David Segal the author for quite the entertaining and informative read.  If you don't subscribe or your library doesn't carry the paper tell it too.  For plan C get a friend who does subscribe to e-mail you a cut and paste copy.  

    Anyway, Mr. de Hec is a survivor of a Jehovah Witness upbringing and has fought his way to a life with an impeccably prehensive and sensitive BS meter. 

    The article contains a link to an eleven segment BBC podcast on the Cryotoqueen, for those who want to really go deep on the subject.  

    U.S. investigators have busted a handful of crypto Ponzis over the years. Among them is OneCoin, which was based in Bulgaria and which prosecutors allege brought in roughly $4 billion from investors around the world. The charismatic co-founder of that fraud, Ruja Ignatova, disappeared after the fund closed in 2017 and is the subject of an 11-part BBC podcast, “The Missing Cryptoqueen.”

    By the time you get done with all those podcasts, we may even have all the votes counted and the midterms will be over…except for that Georgia runoff which will not even start for a month.  



    • Thanks for this! I'm starting to bookmark crypto articles because it's an important and developing space. to say nothing of confusing.

      It's my belief that crypto will eventually emerge as a stable alternative currency, changing the way governments fund themselves, because people will be able to keep much of their financial lives hidden (criminals and right-wingers – almost the same thing – use it today for that purpose). Taxes are for the little people, in other words.

      It's important to understand this^ dynamic, because for sure, right wingers will push this as a way to achieve their aim, of making government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub.

      Crypto today has two uses: speculation if you can take the volatility, and an alternative to a country's currency if it's not stable. People see crypto as a better store of wealth than things like the Russian rouble for example.

      • For the present time it is best to believe Charley Munger, Warren Buffet's sidekick.  Cryptocurrency = Rat Poison

      • Crypto's a scam. And it's falling apart. Which is a good thing.

        It's what happens when people who know a lot, but not about what matters, have "bright" ideas. Anarchy is all well and good right up to the point you actually institute it.

  7. Guess who else lost the election?  Putin!  The most rabid Trumpsters in the House want to cut support for Ukraine. Trump's relationship with Ukraine looks a lot like support for Putin except for a period when Ukraine stopped leaking info about Manifort and Trump allowed some anti-tank missiles to be delivered. 

    Had the Trumpsers swept the House, there would have been pressure from the MAGAts to slash support for Ukraine, even though the public polls (73%) seriously tilt in favor of giving Ukraine what they need to resist, and now, drive back the invader. Any Republican who won by a sliver (quite a few) has to think twice about backing Trump's love of Putin when the public loves Ukraine.  

    As I read the tea leaves, Putin intends to use the winter to weaken Ukraine's resolve by going after civilian infrastructure – power, water, and heat – in Ukraine. (This is a war crime.) It's all he can do militarily. Second, Putin wants to make Europe suffer through the winter, turning on the gas for heat in exchange for guarantees Europe (NATO) will stay out of the Ukraine war. LAST, Putin needs for the US to stop sending high-tech missiles – they're making life hell for tanks, planes, and helicopters. If we turn off the tap of supplies, Putin can have control of the air and exert the Russian advantage in tanks and troops. So the midterms were pivotal for Putin and he lost. 

    • I posted a link to Beau of the Fifth Column's remarks about this, downstream somewhere. Summarizing, he said 1) Russian TV was practically praying for a Republican win, and 2) this election could determine the outcome of a war, as it will demoralize Russian leadership, to say nothing of the level of aid flowing into Ukraine.

  8. We had an interesting house race here in NWI. MrVan who ran unopposed for Pete Visclosky's seat in 2020 faced a GQP'er and barely eked out a victory. That seat has been democratic all my life? The GOP had non-stop ads, all the usual lies about the border, crime, inflation, etc. Mrvan ran nothing but abortion ads, I thought it was a less than stellar campaign, anyway he barely hung on and in fact lost two out of three counties. Hopefully he gets some new campaign people in 2024 because this woman Jennifer Ruth Greene says she's going to run again, and me thinks she just might win.

  9. On the surface, it's great that so many Trumpist nuts lost, but IMO the downside of that is scary.  The only way Trump can really "burn down the whole circus" is by starting a new Party, and he's too lazy, cheap, and self-centered to do that.  It would require an enormous amount of work, money, managerial talent, devotion, and sacrifice; ain't gonna happen.

    The Real GOP (the political machine) will now be able to easily regain control of Trump's Mob, and this spells doom for our country and modern human civilization.

    It's a two-track process.  Some GOP Think Tanks will focus on evaluating lower-level GOP politicians, selecting the ones who are most charismatic, disciplined, and malleable.  Other Think Tanks will hone new sets of phrases, designed to appeal to Trump's Mob without alienating more traditional (higher-class) voters.  The chosen politicians will be trained to use those phrases, and they will be rewarded well with campaign donations and plenty of perks ("speaker fees", "fact-finding trips", etc).

    This is what the GOP has been doing for decades, and it's a very effective formula for success.  IMO, their big mistake was outsourcing too much of their propaganda efforts to FOX.  Murdoch got what he wanted from the GOP – changes to FCC regs – and gave them what they [thought they] wanted: a 24/7 firehose of hatred aimed at the Democratic Party.  It was a perfect scheme – it turned out you can make billions of dollars selling Outrage to millions of intellectually lazy people.

    The problem is that Outrage is a drug that desensitizes the user, so they require ever more outrageous programming to keep them excited.  This inevitably pushes people over the edge into obviously delusional mental frameworks (Q-Anon, etc), and the GOP lost control of the Mob (though FOX maintained its revenue stream).  Trump rode that wave to the Presidency; the GOP held its nose and pretended to go along, to avoid alienating the Mob.

    That Mob still represents a large majority of GOP voters, so the GOP still has to be careful.  But the Mob has been effectively trained to hate the Democratic Party, so the only danger to the GOP is a new Trumpist Party.  (They don't really have to worry about the Crazies taking over the Party, because the machinery is still controlled by the Zillionaires who foot the bill.)

    The Midterm results just give the GOP more power to screw things up for Biden & Democrats for the next two years, preventing any further attempts to rebuild the US economy.  I expect "bipartisan" legislation in favor of more money for the Pentagon, and not much else.  The big question is whether the Biden Admin can spend the BBB & Green New Deal money fast enough and well enough to actually have positive effects – visible to working-class Americans – in time to prevent a Red Wave in 2024.  That will depend mostly on the effectiveness (and focus) of Biden's Cabinet.  There are some *smart* people there; I really hope they can pull it off.

    • A strongman movement cannot survive the loss of the strongman. And DeSantis is no Trump. He's just another little Hitler.

  10. @elkhern – I'm really heartened by a few datapoints that make me believe we're near Peak Wingnut, although this is a multi-year, many-person event.

    The 1950s saw the rise and fall of Joe McCarthy, in a single televised moment, captured in the phrase “Have you no decency?” – that echoes down to our time. This moment took place against the backdrop of the public’s general embrace of the New Deal, liberalism’s heydey. And so McCarthy was an outlier, and his fall came easy.

    In our time, it’s not a single event but a trickle of data points that are turning into a flood. The Jan 6 committee hearings were a start. This amazing full-throated rebuttal on the floor of the Michigan State legislature by Mallory McMorrow is a kind of Joe McCarthy moment for our time. Many more are needed, and are coming. The country has had more than enough right-wing nonsense, and people like McMorrow are showing us how to push back.

    Because of McMorrow and the women at the top of Michigan government, the deniers lost, and Michigan Democrats now dominate their legislature, the first time in 40 years. This is a template for other states, liberalism is no longer confined to the coastal hothouse states, if you will.

    Now, as we discovered on Nov 9, the defeat of the right won’t happen overnight. We’re in a place where each side spends monumental amounts of effort to make incremental gains, kind of like trench warfare. Jamelle Bouie has a great opinion piece about this at the NYT (paywall), it’s so worth reading if you can get to it. Here’s the last few paragraphs –

    If there’s any period similar to ours, with two evenly matched coalitions, each struggling to attain a lasting victory over the other, it is in the late 19th century, with its sharp partisan polarization, closely contested national elections, and astonishingly high turnout. Then, as now, the margins were narrow; then, as now, the fights were fierce; and then, as now, the combination of the two pushed some of the strongest and most ideological partisans to try to rig the game in their favor.

    What changed things, then, was essentially a shock to the system. The collapse of the Populist movement, the rise of Jim Crow in the South and the nationwide suppression of labor cemented the grasp of industrial capital — working mostly through the Republican Party — on the entire political system. It would take a catastrophe, the Great Depression, to fully loosen it.

    I think we are in for another round — or two or three or four — of close, hard-fought election cycles with no decisive victory or defeat for either party. But something will come; something — whether economic or environmental or constitutional — will shock the system and give one coalition or the other the chance to expand and attempt to win hegemony over the political system.

    The question in my mind is which forces in this country are best organized, either for good or for ill, to take advantage when that something eventually hits.

    Finally, Ruth Ben-Ghiat taught me to never give up hope. Our doom is not carved in stone. Stupidity can only rule for so long. Hope is coming in the form of young people. In two years, another cohort of young people, who’ve suffered school shootings, monumental educational debt, and who’ve traveled abroad to less stupid countries – are able to vote. In two years, another cohort of conservative old people is going to die off. Never give up hope. Stupid won’t last.

  11. Sorry, some typos and a couple finishing remarks (editing timed out). @elkhern, not @elkhorn – sorry.

    In two years, more young people will be eligible to vote, these are the same kids traumatized by Republican stupidity: school massacres, and monumental debt, simply to get a decent education and get to a standard of living their elders knew and took for granted. This generation knows more about the world and has traveled to other countries, where people both admire but laugh at what the US has become.

    In two years, more conservative deadheads are going to die off. In two years, the Supreme Court will have more time to demonstrate more completely how out of touch with reality they are.  

    In two years, that sack sick puss down in Florida is going to make most decent people in this country puke, and make them stand up like Mallory McMorrow did to the hate that was directed at her. Michigan and other places will be a shining example of what's possible instead of hate.

  12. Thanks Doug. One more thought and I'll shut up.

    The language that brought.down McCartthy and was expertly used by McMorrow is Moral Language.

    You're a hypocrite and this is why…This is wrong and this is why….

    To be conversant in this requires a moral education (listen to McMorrow explain her childhood and in particular the lessons – the morals – she learned).

    This is why right wingers ruled for so long. Most of them are fluent in a child's version of moral language – right and wrong – as expressed by an authority figure, and simply don't trust liberals who are more inclined to figure things out on their own, disregarding authority. It's only when wingnuts become militant and self righteous about it that they finally step over the line of decency, their moral error so blazingly wrong that they will finally listen to the screaming liberal who is no longer having any of it.

    I had a lot to think about this election, losing a friend to denialism; she's been the inspiration for much of this^

    • Again, so well said.  Ms. McMorrow and Ian Mackey of Missouri are heroes.  Surely they are an inspiration to others yet to emerge in R-dominated state legislatures. I like to think the pendulum has finally clearly begun to swing, however slowly, to the left.

  13. Friday night, still alot in the air. They kept predicting the uncounted votes are all going republican and now msnbc is claiming Kelly is winning. 

    If there are armed people stalking the ballot boxes maybe alot of Dems waited until November 8 to drop their ballots at the polls because they didn't want to be harassed. Great if that crap boomerangs on Republican s.

    • "If there are armed people stalking the ballot boxes maybe alot of Dems waited until November 8 to drop their ballots at the polls"

      I thought the same thing! Also why the hell does msnbc keep broadcasting the 220R-216D house projection? They don't know how the races will shake out that is why the NBC election desk hasn't issued an "official" projection? I was watching a bit of Lawrence last night and he's discussing the fact that it is possible for the dems to hold the house all the while they are running a chyron showing 220R-216D? Do they even watch the shows they broadcast?

  14. The Cobra, a.k.a. Maureen Dowd penned quite the inspirational piece in the NYT under the title of The Emperor of Chaos Has No Clothes. Redone from Chicago, to this article, commented:

    In what would look like a world of reason and logic:

    A party screaming about inflation and immigration but offering zero solutions

    A party that continually threatens to take away healthcare and social security

    A party that votes against rural broadband, lowering drug prices and battling climate change

    A party either supporting an insurrection, covering up for the instigators, or not condemning it

    A party that refuses to confront White supremacists or refuses to even allow law enforcement to monitor them

    A party that doesn’t respect a woman’s rights to have dominion over her own body

    A party that holds crime up as a significant issue but refuses to limit gun sales and ignores mass shootings

                        Couldn’t be expected to win elections.

                                  How can they even be close?


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