Bob Sheak, Oct 25, 2022
I am a non-violent partisan. Politically, I oppose what the Republicans stand for and, with no better potentially viable option, support Democratic candidates and policies. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “partisan” as follows.
“A partisan is someone who supports one part or party. Sometimes the support takes the form of military action, as when guerrilla fighters take on government forces. But partisan is most often used as an adjective, usually referring to support of a political party. So, if you’re accused of being too partisan, or of practicing partisan politics, it means you’re mainly interested in boosting your own party and attacking the other one” (https://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/partisan#note-1).
I oppose the Republican Party and their supporters ideologically and politically for the following reasons:
#1 –They are the party of climate-change deniers or evaders.
#2 – They want to preserve a fossil-fuel energy system and pay little attention or actively oppose the need for government to support renewable sources of solar and wind energy, along with energy efficiency measures.
#3 – Their policies engender increasing wealth and income inequalities.
#4 – They reject a multicultural, diverse society and are fearful of losing a white majority.
#5 – They accept concentrated corporate power and trickle-down economics.
#6 – They do their utmost to limit the votes of Democrats through voter suppression and intimidation.
#7 – Many of them want to eliminate or significantly diminish the social/welfare state including Social Security and Medicare.
#8 – It is Republicans who call for book bans and efforts to turn public education into an institution that propagates their own reactionary and racist values.
#9 – They, and the right-wing Supreme Court are moving to eliminate the reproductive rights of girls and women under Roe v. Wade and want to advance a ban on abortion not only in the “red” states but in every state.
#10 – They follow Trump’s anti-democratic vision, with his authoritarian ambitions, his admiration of foreign oligarchs, his torrent of lies and disinformation, while excusing him for his central involvement in the Jan.6 attacks and his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.
I support the Democratic Party, its candidates, and, today, many of the policies of the Biden administration. However, I oppose the Democratic Party’s bipartisan support of ever-higher levels of military spending, their militaristic foreign policy, their contradictory and weak policies dealing with the energy and the climate emergency, and, with the Republicans, their commitment to unlimited economic growth.
In “Part 1” of this post, I present my views on what the Republican Party and its supporters represent and want. In “Part 2,” I focus on “Democrats” and what they have achieved. The upcoming 2022 midterm elections will lay the groundwork for whether the U.S. political system continues to be somewhat democratic or lurches into an authoritarian political trajectory that will affect the country for decades – or more.
With just days before the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans seem on course to win the House of Representatives, with the U.S. Senate still in question. But, as the surprising Trump presidential victory in 2016 taught us, the upcoming election results cannot now be predicted with any certainty.
Meanwhile, Republicans, in the thrall of Trump, attack Democrats often on baseless or little supported claims, and mobilize adherents to advance anti-democratic interests and values.
Politics and anger
Mark Murray reports on an NBC News poll that voters have “Anger on their minds” and “sky-high interest and polarization ahead of midterms,” according to an NBC News poll of Oct 23. 2022
“Some 80% of Democrats and Republicans believe the political opposition poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.”
Part 1: Republicans
Despite the overwhelming evidence gathered by the Jan.6 Select Committee that Trump and his advisers did their utmost to reverse the 2020 presidential election and reject a peaceful transfer of power, Republicans ignore or reject the committee’s findings and, if they gain control of the House, will disband the committee (See: https://january6th.house.gov.)
Peaceful transfer of power, but only if “we” win
Trump and many Republican candidates running for public office declare that, following Trump’s example, they will only accept the results of the elections in which they are competing if they win. Otherwise, they will claim the election was rigged against them and therefore not legitimate. Ed Kilgore refers to documentation of this all-too-frequent Republican position (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/10/will-election-deniers-deny-their-own-defeats.html). He writes:
“One of the hot topics of the 2022 midterm elections is the remarkable number of Republicans running for major offices this year who have embraced some or all of the MAGA fables about the 2020 election being stolen from Donald Trump. The Brookings Institution recently counted 345… running for statewide office, Congress or state legislatures in November. The Washington Post calculates that over half the GOP candidates for the House, Senate, and major statewide officers are 2020 election deniers. This phenomenon has unsurprisingly led to concerns about the 2024 presidential election, in which Republicans appeared inclined preemptively to challenge any presidential election they lost as ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen.’ That was particularly true with respect to candidates for positions (e.g., secretary of State or governor) who might be in a position to certify or falsify the results in key states.”
The denier claims, dangerous and anti-democratic as they are, represent only one aspect of the toxic anti-democratic positions held by many Republican candidates and their supporters, positions that will contribute to delays, disputes, chaos in government at all levels, and the further weakening of an already increasingly tenuous and deeply partisan driven U.S. democracy. In such an eventuality, groups on the Right that advocate violence and who view Trump as their “leader” will be left with the disorder in which their aim at limiting or destroying democracy will be nourished.
Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Steve Eder lead research efforts by a New York Times team that has extensively documented that Trump backers frequently use “devil terms” to help rally voters. They focus on Republicans in the House of Representatives (https://nytimes.com/2022/10/22/us/politics/republican-election-objectors-rhetoric.html). Here is some of what they report on the rise of “partisan language over the past 10 years.”
“The analysis of tweets, Facebook ads, newsletters and congressional speeches — more than 3.7 million items in all — relied largely on natural language processing, a technique that uses software to extract information from large amounts of text. The Times tallied words that were linked in academic research to divisive political content, as well as those identified by linguists and computer scientists to be used in polarizing ways — ‘fascist’ and ‘socialist,’ for example, ‘far right and ‘far left.’
“Republican representatives have ratcheted up such rhetoric since former President Donald J. Trump took office, the analysis found. In the year and a half after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Republicans on average used divisive words and phrases more than twice as often as Democrats in tweets, and six times as often in emails to constituents.
“At the forefront of this polarization are Republicans who voted to reject the Electoral College results that cemented Mr. Trump’s defeat last year. A recent Times investigation revealed how those lawmakers helped engrave the myth of a stolen election in party orthodoxy. Now, a Times analysis shows that the language of the 139 objecting members is markedly more hostile than that of other Republicans and Democrats. In their telling, those who oppose them not only are wrong about certain policies but also hate their country.”
The Rise of politically-related violence
Rachel Kleinfeld analyzes the rise of political violence in the United States
(https://journalofdemocracy.org/articles/the-rise-of-political-violence-in-the-United-States). Kleinfeld is senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was the founding CEO of the Truman National Security Project and serves on the National Task Force on Election Crises. Here’s some of what she finds.
“What is occurring today does not resemble this recent past. Although incidents from the left are on the rise, political violence still comes overwhelmingly from the right, whether one looks at the Global Terrorism Database, FBI statistics, or other government or independent counts.3 Yet people committing far-right violence—particularly planned violence rather than spontaneous hate crimes—are older and more established than typical terrorists and violent criminals. They often hold jobs, are married, and have children. Those who attend church or belong to community groups are more likely to hold violent, conspiratorial beliefs.4 These are not isolated ‘lone wolves’; they are part of a broad community that echoes their ideas.
“Two subgroups appear most prone to violence. The January 2021 American Perspectives Survey found that white Christian evangelical Republicans were outsized supporters of both political violence and the Q-Anon conspiracy, which claims that Democratic politicians and Hollywood elites are pedophiles who (aided by mask mandates that hinder identification) traffic children and harvest their blood; separate polls by evangelical political scientists found that in October 2020 approximately 47 percent of white evangelical Christians believed in the tenets of Q-Anon, as did 59 percent of Republicans.5 Many evangelical pastors are working to turn their flocks away from this heresy. The details appear outlandish, but stripped to its core, the broad appeal becomes clearer: Democrats and cultural elites are often portrayed as Satanic forces arrayed against Christianity and seeking to harm Christian children.”
In her October 23, 2022, email/podcast, historian Heather Cox Richardson comments on this phenomenon (https://heathercoxrichardson.com/p/october-23-2022?utm_source=substack&utm). She gives the following example.
“Over the weekend, the Maricopa County Elections Department announced that two people, both armed and dressed in tactical gear, stationed themselves near a ballot drop box in Mesa, Arizona. They left when law enforcement officers arrived. At least two voters later filed complaints of voter intimidation, both complaining that they were filmed dropping off ballots. One complained of being accused of ‘being a mule,’ a reference to people who are allegedly paid to gather ballots and stuff drop boxes for Democratic candidates.
“Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer issued a statement: ‘We are deeply concerned about the safety of individuals who are exercising their constitutional right to vote and who are lawfully taking their early ballot to a drop box…. [V]igilantes outside Maricopa County’s drop boxes are not increasing election integrity. Instead they are leading to voter intimidation complaints.’”
Encouragement of bounty hunting
Scott Pilutik considers how Republican states are turning the public into bounty-hunters (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/09/a-b-8-texas-republicans-conservative-culture-wars).
Pilutik gives the example of the passage of SB 8 by the Texas state legislature and other states.
“SB 8 outsources enforcement to private citizens, allowing any person to sue abortion providers or people who ‘aid or abet them. In the wake of the law taking effect, many commentators (darkly or excitedly) imagined how else this could be used: Could, say, New York confer standing on its citizens to sue gun shops?
This weapon is already being deployed throughout the country. In Tennessee, students and teachers can now sue schools if they ‘encounter a member of the opposite (biological) sex in a multi-occupancy restroom.’ In Florida, any student who claims to have been ‘deprived of an athletic opportunity’ because a transgender athlete took their place is now bestowed with a private cause of action against the school. Missouri recently passed the ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act,’ which not only serves as an assault on the supremacy clause, but grants $50,000 in damages to any party whose right to bear arms is deprived. And Kentucky citizens can now file a complaint with the attorney general if a teacher within their school district teaches critical race theory resulting in withdrawn funding from the school.
“To see through the stratagem of this tactic, it helps to have a rudimentary understanding of “standing”: The bedrock legal concept that anyone filing a complaint must first show that (1) they’ve been injured; (2) the defendant caused the injury; and (3) a court can address that injury.
“By making everyone except the state a possible enforcer of the law, SB 8 robs potential challengers of a defendant, and thus the standing to sue. Put another way, the state of Texas didn’t cause your injury, women, lawmakers did, and if you don’t like it, your only remedy is to vote them out. (Or perhaps wait around for a doctor to openly violate the law and be sued.)”
“S.B. 8 violates norms in another crucial way too: by granting standing to everyone—parties who otherwise would not have it—to enforce the new law. Consequently, and rather perversely, not only are the people most affected by S.B. 8 deprived of the means to challenge the law, but the court doors were swung open to those affected the least. How can the bounty hunters empowered by this law possibly claim to be injured? That’s the threshold question a court would ordinarily ask before agreeing to hear such a case. There isn’t a good answer to that question, only that the statute itself—S.B. 8—implicitly presumes an injury.
“It’s no small coincidence that the new laws cropping up in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida all use the same tactic and cater to the trumped-up fears and outright bigotry Tucker Carlson regularly spews for his viewers. Ordinarily, being offended isn’t an injury and won’t get you before a judge. But these laws are another front in the culture war. It is crucial that each bestows standing on persons who would not otherwise have it, because such rights can’t otherwise be found in the U.S. or state constitutions. Laws like Tennessee’s and Florida’s targeting of transgender students serve as a preemptive first strike at activity another court might one day find constitutionally protected.
#1 – The rich and powerful
The big donors want low taxes, government subsidies, a rule of “too big to fail,” less or no government regulation, the privatization of any government function that is potentially profitable, access to public oil and gas reserves, and less spending on social/welfare programs. Many U.S. corporations have long invested in China and other low-wage countries, with significant negative impacts on U.S. manufacturing and employment.
To be sure, the bulk of corporations have always put profits before other considerations and wanted a society in which there were few options for employees/workers outside of labor markets, hence, for example, their opposition to unions and workplace safety regulations. Also, since Reagan, corporations have adopted policies that ensure that an increasing share of profits go to top executives and shareholders.
Researchers Lenore Palladino and Kristina Karlsson involved in corporate research at Harvard Law School provide the following analysis (https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2019/02/11/towards-accountable-capitalism-law-through-stakeholder-governance) ….
“Corporations today operate according to a model of corporate governance known as ‘shareholder primacy.’ This theory claims that the purpose of a corporation is to generate returns for shareholders, and that decision-making should be focused on a singular goal: maximizing shareholder value. This single-minded focus—which often comes at the expense of investments in workers, innovation, and long-term growth—has contributed to today’s high-profit, low wage economy.
“Many business leaders, policymakers, and average Americans accept this doctrine of corporate governance as ‘natural’ law—the unshakeable reality of business. ‘However, shareholder-focused corporations are not natural market creations, and the idea of ‘maximizing shareholder value’ is relatively recent. This misguided focus, driven by the neoliberal conception of shareholders as the only actor within the firm who is critical to corporate success, is the result of decades of flawed theory in corporate law and policy. Increasing economic evidence suggests that shareholder primacy is not benefiting other corporate stakeholders, including workers, suppliers, consumers, or communities.”
#2 – Trump’s electoral base
The base, which predates Trump’s presidency, is driven not only by the “big lie,” but also by specific interests, variously including support of maximum freedom to own guns, anti-immigrant views (if not closed borders), Christian nationalism (in violation of the constitutional mandate to keep religion separate from the state), and various versions of white supremacy. They reject, ignore, or remain clueless of fact-driven research on the economic policy accomplishments of the Biden administration.
Many in this enormous base of tens of millions of Americans get some or much of their income from Social Security and benefit from Medicare. They appear in this case to put their hatred of Democrats before their personal interests or, more likely, they are not aware of the Republican Congress’s threat to reduce or eliminate both programs.
Along with such political gains, they will have the ability to re-write election laws in favor Republicans, appoint supporters to key state positions, and advance their anti-democratic agenda.
Some in the Congress want to privatize, even eliminate, Social Security and Medicare amid a clueless base
This is a Republican Party goal that can perhaps be traced back to the very origins of the two programs. Joseph Chamie analyzes how the Republicans’ opposition to “elder support” is decades in the making (https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/3620957-the-republicans-war-on-elder-support-is-decades-in-the-making). Chamie is a consulting demographer, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and the author of numerous publications on population issues, including his recent book, “Births, Deaths, Migrations and Other Important Population Matters.” This opposition remains unabated. For example,
“In 2017, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Republicans would defend the tax cuts they passed at the time, and in order to curb the growing deficit caused in part by those tax cuts, they would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He added that the principal problem in the federal budget has been the steady, rapid growth over the years in spending on entitlement programs.”
In an article for Truthout on Oct 18, 2022, Sharon Zhang writes:
“If Republicans take control of the House this fall, they plan on using debt limit talks — and the possibility of throwing the U.S. into default — if they don’t get their way on slashing government programs (https://truthout.org/articles/gop-plan-on-threatening-recession-if-they-cant-cut-medicare-social-security). Zhang continues:
“According to a new interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), the party is planning on using must-pass debt ceiling legislation to force through the GOP’s agenda.
“‘You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and adding to the debt,’ McCarthy said in an interview with Punchbowl News, ignoring the fact that economists view national debt obligations as often signaling the health of the economy. ‘We’re not just going to keep lifting your credit card limit, right,’ he continued. ‘And we should seriously sit together and [figure out] where can we eliminate some waste? Where can we make the economy grow stronger?’
Bottom of Form
When McCarthy refers to eliminating so-called waste, it is likely that he is referring to, among other things, the GOP’s plans to cut Medicare and Social Security, two of the most popular and vital anti-poverty government programs in the U.S.”
“Republicans have been attacking the programs over the past months. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) has threatened to put budgets up to congressional debate every year, which would almost definitely lead to cuts. Alarmingly, earlier this year, the Republican Study Committee, the largest Republican caucus in the House, put out a plan to raise the age at which people receive full benefits from both programs to 70, while implementing a rule that would raise the eligibility age over time.
“The debt ceiling is an effective bludgeon for Republicans to use for this purpose. The debt ceiling accounts for government funding to provide promised payments for programs like Medicare and Social Security, as well as military salaries and other “existing legal obligations,” according to the Treasury Department.
“Republicans had threatened to put the U.S. in default last September, after former President Donald Trump urged the party to do so. They appeared to be posing as deficit hawks — something they only do when a Democrat is in charge — while Democrats were debating the Build Back Better Act.
“If they pull a similar move in 2023, it could be similar to 2011, when the GOP manufactured a debt ceiling crisis that ultimately ‘led directly to the worst recovery following a recession since World War II,’ according to the Economic Policy Institute.
“If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by fall of 2023, when the government is slated to run out of funding, the U.S. could find itself in a situation similar to last year, when it was at risk of defaulting on its loans. This could have triggered a global recession and would have disastrous short- and long-term consequences for the U.S., as the creditworthiness of the country would be ruined.”
#3 – Trump still a dominating influence
At all levels, the Republican Party is still Trump’s party, relying on his steadfast electoral base, including tens of millions of his supporters, many of whom still believe Trump’s big lie that the 2020 presidential election was plagued with fraudulent votes and that in fact Trump won that election by many millions of votes. All along, they seem to disregard his lies, his racism and sexism See, admire his supposed “strongman” characteristics (See Ruth Ben-Chiat’s book, Strongman: Mussolini to the Present),
The anti-democratic character of Trump’s base is further revealed in its disregard, or even support for, Trump’s attraction to autocratic leaders abroad. Dana Milbank writes:
‘Trump admired and befriended autocrats the world over. He claimed a ‘great relationship’ with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, known for his extralegal killing squads. He called North Korea’s Kim Jon-un, leader of the most repressive regime on earth, ‘very open,’ ‘very honorable,’ and a ‘smart cookie.” He called Egypt’s Abedl Fattah al-Sissi, who violently cracked down on dissidents, a ‘fantastic guy’ who was ‘very close to me.’ He admired the ‘very high marks’ given to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, known for failing opponents. China’s premier, Xi Jinping, was a ‘great gentleman’ and a ‘very good man.’ And Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with whom he had ‘positive chemistry,’ was ‘getting and A’ in leadership by Trump’s grading” (The Destructionists, p. 286).
Peter Baker and Susan Glasser provide the following summary of Trump’s Russian connections in their book, The Divider.
“Trump’s history with Russia went back long before he was in politics. A Putin cheerleader of long standing, he had written him a mash note in 2007 after the Russian was named Times Person of the Year, an honor Trump himself craved. ‘You definitely deserve it,’ Trump gushed, adding, ‘As you probably heard, I am a big fan of yours!’ For years, Trump had tried to build a tower with his name on it in Moscow potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Ever since American banks stopped doing business with him because he was so unreliable, Trump has been financed by Deutsche Bank, the German institution with close ties to Russia. ‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,’ Don Jr. said 2008. Five years later, Eric Trump reportedly said the family did not need American banks because ‘we have all the funding we need out of Russia” (p. 82).
A failed presidency?
Additionally, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser write that “by many measures” Donald Trump was “the most unsuccessful occupant of the White House in generations.,” a record his followers ignore. They continue:
“He was the first president since Benjamin Harrison to lose the popular vote twice. He was the only president in the history of the Gallup polling never to have the support of a majority of Americans for a single day of his tenure. Instead, surveys showed that he was the most polarizing president in the history of the surveys. And he was the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose the White House, the House, and the Senate in just four years” (p. 648).
Trump’s hold on the party appears little diminished
Despite all this, Baker and Glasser write that Trump remains the undisputed frontrunner of the party’s nomination in 2024 should he mount a comeback. And since the election, He has “cowed Republicans like Kevin McCarthy, purged the party of those who stood against him, and set about stacking primaries for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections with his supporters” (p. 648).
Duplicitous fund raising
Trump has raised hundreds of millions of dollars with “frenetic fundraising appeals to his supporters…. and they responded by filling a war chest with $250 million in the weeks after the election, including for the fund that investigators found did not even exist, with much more to follow in the months to come” (p. 649).
Dana Milbank also documents in his book “The Destructionists” how Trump used government funds for his own purposes.
“After a campaign in which Trump cynically vowed to ‘drain the swamp’ of political corruption in Washington, he used his presidency to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to his own businesses, pressured federal agencies and international organizations to do business with his personal enterprises, invited foreign governments to pay millions of dollars to his businesses, and ran out the clock on releasing his tax returns, which would have revealed conflicts of interest” (p.259).
Trump’s base remains intact, ignoring the facts
Despite the lying, the opportunism, the bureaucratic gamesmanship, Baker and Glasser write, “millions of his followers “continued to believe his outlandish claims about the ‘stolen’ 2020 election.” Indeed, “by the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack one poll found that 71 percent of Republicans thought Biden’s victory was probably or definitely illegitimate.” This is so despite the fact that “not one independent authority, not one judge, not one prosecutor, not one election agency, not one official who was not a Trump partisan ever found widespread fraud.” (p. 650).
In her book, Confidence Man. Maggie Haberman notes: “Ultimately, Trump’s legal team filed sixty-five different postelection lawsuits in state and federal courts and lost sixty-four of them” (p. 472).
Funding favors Republicans
Sharon Zhang reports on Oct. 17, 2022 that the Republicans have an advantage when it comes to campaign-related funding and much of it is anonymous or from “outside spending” (https://truthout.org/articles/flow-of-dark-money-has-led-to-record-amount-of-outside-spending-this-election). She writes;
“Outside spending, or spending that comes from groups that aren’t officially affiliated with particular candidates, has sharply risen in every election cycle since the Supreme Court handed down Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission in 2010. That decision has been criticized as one of the largest drivers of the growing amount of influence that corporations and the wealthy can have over elections — influence that is often completely anonymous.”
“According to OpenSecrets, outside groups have spent more on this election cycle than they ever have in a midterm, breaking the previous record set in the last midterm election in 2018. As of Friday, outside spending — the vast majority of which comes from dark money groups — reached roughly $1.34 billion, topping 2018’s record of $1.32 billion….If it continues at this pace, in fact, outside spending could even surpass the amount of money spent by outside groups in 2020, even though presidential election cycles typically see far more spending than midterm elections do.”
“Bottom of FormRepublican-aligned groups have been the largest spenders this cycle so far, the report finds. The GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund and the Congressional Leadership Fund, which support Republicans’ Senate and House races, respectively, have collectively spent $259 million so far. This is far more than the amount that the Democrats’ two main congressional funds have spent, at about $107 million.”
Part 2: The Democrats – on shaky grounds
Democratic optimism has faded, though many races are close
Andrew Prokop reports that Democratic optimism about the midterms is fading
“In the late summer, the political world was filled with talk of Democrats’ surprising strength in polls and in special election results. And many believed backlash against the Dobbs decision, which ended the federal right to an abortion, had opened the way for the incumbent’s party to avoid the typical midterm wipeout.”
“Now,” Prokop writes, “with the election less than three weeks away [less than that as of Oct 25], Democratic optimism has faded — at least somewhat. Numbers for some Senate candidates who had been polling strikingly well, like John Fetterman in Pennsylvania and Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, have come back down to Earth. Some blue state governor’s contests now seem unexpectedly competitive. Polls show gas prices and inflation are on many voters’ minds again, and that abortion is fading somewhat as an issue. And more pundits are saying Republicans are gaining an advantage.”
Some evidence: only minor shifts in polls
“It’s true that the polls have shifted somewhat toward Republicans in certain key races. On September 15, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gave Democrats a 71 percent chance of holding the Senate; as of midday Wednesday that number is 61 percent. In other cases, forecasts haven’t changed much: FiveThirtyEight has the GOP’s House takeover chances still above 70 percent. And there have been some contrary indicators, with surprisingly good poll results for Democrats in redder states like Iowa and Oklahoma.”
“The bad economic news, the historical trend of the president’s party performing poorly in midterms, and the tendency of polls to understate Republicans in certain key cycles (especially Senate races) can all be read to suggest that the smart money is on the GOP to do well.”
The state of the battle for the Senate
“Democrats remain the favorites in the battle for the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight, but their advantage has shrunk in the past month. When you look under the hood of FiveThirtyEight’s model to see why, it mostly comes down to shifts in four contests:
“In Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) dropped from a 61 percent favorite to a 49 percent slight underdog.
“In Pennsylvania, the chances of John Fetterman (D) winning dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent.
“Other Democratic candidates, like Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), haven’t seen similar drops in the past month. Kelly is a 78 percent favorite to win, and Warnock is a 57 percent favorite. In Ohio, Tim Ryan remains a 28 percent underdog.
“With the Senate split 50-50, the basic math is that so long as Fetterman picks up that GOP seat in Pennsylvania, Democrats can afford to lose one seat of their own. So, they could lose Cortez Masto or Warnock, but not both. And if Fetterman loses (and no other Democrats campaigning for GOP-held seats win), even losing one Democratic incumbent would flip the chamber.”
Saving democracy is not a priority for many voters
This is a topic on which New York Times journalists Nick Corasaniti, Michael C. Bender, Ruth Igielnik and Kristen Bayrakdarian report. The title of their article captures their main point, that is, “Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority” (https://nytimes.com/2022/10/18/us/politics/midterm-election-voters-democracy-poll.html). The cite a “New York Times/Siena College poll [which] found that other problems have seized voters’ focus — even as many do not trust this year’s election results and are open to anti-democratic candidates.”
In fact, more than a third of independent voters and a smaller but noteworthy contingent of Democrats said they were open to supporting candidates who reject the legitimacy of the 2020 election, as they assigned greater urgency to their concerns about the economy than to fears about the fate of the country’s political system.
“The doubts about elections that have infected American politics since the 2020 contest show every sign of persisting well into the future, the poll suggested: Twenty-eight percent of all voters, including 41 percent of Republicans, said they had little to no faith in the accuracy of this year’s midterm elections.”
“The poll showed that voters filtered their faith in democracy through a deeply partisan lens. A majority of voters in both parties identified the opposing party as a ‘major threat to democracy.’”
“Most Republicans said the dangers included President Biden, the mainstream media, the federal government and voting by mail. Most Democrats named Donald J. Trump, while large shares of the party’s voters also said the Supreme Court and the Electoral College were threats to democracy.
“Seventy-one percent of all voters said democracy was at risk — but just 7 percent identified that as the most important problem facing the country.”
A fraying Democratic electorate
Columnist Greg Sargent considers “The mystery of the missing anti-MAGA majority in 2022 (https://washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/10/19/trump-house-democrats-2022-elections-gop-control).
“On one hand, the coalition that elected a Democratic House in 2018 — and then ended Donald Trump’s presidency in 2020 — appears to be fraying, now that Trump is no longer in the White House. This likely means — at minimum — a Republican takeover of the House.
“On the other hand, the threat of Trumpism remains very much alive. Yet that coalition is not mobilizing against it — allowing Trumpism to remain as a durable force in our politics.”
‘The anti-MAGA majority’
“The coalition that ousted Trump in 2020 delivered an unprecedented 81 million votes to Joe Biden. But Democrats simultaneously lost a dozen House seats. This suggested cracks in the anti-MAGA majority. Analysts noted at the time that Republican-leaning voters who were alienated by Trump became ticket splitters, perhaps to elect Republicans to Congress as a check on an incoming Democratic president. For these voters, being anti-Trump didn’t translate into becoming pro-Democratic.
“What’s happening now is complicated. Dan Sena, who ran the Democrats’ House campaign arm in 2018, notes that inflation and rising gas prices are particularly burdensome in suburban and exurban areas, even as voters in those places are already somewhat right-leaning.”
“… Sena argues, Democrats have bled support among the independent women who were key in 2018. For a while, the end of Roe v. Wade appeared poised to reverse this trend, but that’s now uncertain.
“‘You had suburban independent women swing back toward Democrats in fairly large numbers,’ Sena says, but now, with crime concerns mounting, the story is again one of ‘erosion.’ Sena adds that college-educated men who were once alienated by Trump are now drifting back to Republicans.”
Sargent cites Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst with the nonpartisan Inside Elections, who finds that “recent polls suggest erosion for Democrats across the board, but particularly among Black, Hispanic and young voters relative to 2018.”
Still, Democratic legislative initiatives may make a difference
“A Democratic loss is not preordained. Rosenberg, the strategist who coined ‘the anti-MAGA majority,’ notes that Biden has launched initiatives on climate change, student loans and marijuana sentencing that could keep young voters energized. And Democratic analyst Tom Bonier points to supercharged voter registration among women in states where reproductive rights are at stake.”
The accomplishments of the Biden administration and Democrats.
Janet L. Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury, and Shalanda D. Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, have issued a report on the “Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2022, Oct 21, 2022” (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1043).
The Republican Party, their candidates, and their supporters often claim that the Democrats in Congress are frivolous big spenders that deepen the national debt, cause inflation, and negatively affect the economy. The evidence presented by Yellen and Young indicate the critics are wrong.
The FY 2022 deficit fell
“During FY 2022, the deficit fell by $1.4 trillion—the largest one-year decrease in the Federal deficit in American history. The 2022 deficit of $1.375 trillion was half of the FY 2021 deficit, $40 billion less than forecasted in the President’s 2023 Budget and $1.8 trillion lower than the deficit the President inherited. As a percentage of GDP, the FY 2022 deficit was 6.8 percentage points lower than in the previous year.
“From Day One, the Biden-Harris Administration has been working to build an economy that works for everyone. Under the President’s leadership—and thanks in part to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and a historic vaccination effort—America has more than recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic. Our economy has added more than 10 million jobs since the President took office, and the unemployment rate has returned to its pre-pandemic, 50-year low of 3.5 percent. The President’s economic plan has helped usher in a new era of American manufacturing, with nearly 700,000 new manufacturing jobs added since January 2021. And, the historic Inflation Reduction Act will bring down energy, health care, and prescription drug costs, tackle the climate crisis, further reduce the deficit, and make our tax system fairer.
“Today’s joint budget statement provides further evidence of our historic economic recovery, driven by our vaccination effort and the American Rescue Plan. It also demonstrates President Biden’s commitment to strengthening our nation’s fiscal health,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said. “President Biden’s recently enacted economic plan will build on the economic gains of the past two years. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act will help put the country on a path to sustained economic growth, create new and good-paying jobs across the country, and strengthen American economic resilience for years to come.”
The Republican Party and their supporters appear to be on the cusp of getting enough votes in November 2022 to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Given the anti-democratic policies and actions of the Republicans and their allies, this would represent an ominous step toward the further crippling of democratic institutions. We can only hope that, when the votes are counted, there are enough Democratic and Independent votes to prevent this from happening.