Digital Planet > On the Record > Biden said Wednesday that voters had proven that “democracy is who we are.”

Biden said Wednesday that voters had proven that “democracy is who we are.”

Biden said Wednesday that voters had proven that “democracy is who we are.”

November 09, 2022

After all the campaigning, polling, and anxiety, Election Day 2022 ended with a gigantic surprise: Democrats defied history — and widespread predictions of a wipeout due to President Joe Biden’s low approval rating and the highest inflation in decades. Instead, they won key races, indicating that while they may lose the House, there will be no “red wave.” And thanks to the pickup of a Republican seat in Pennsylvania, Democrats retain thin control of the Senate, at least for now. Below are the latest developments.

A preliminary polling report card

Ed Kilgore has gone through how the polls compared with the final results in many of the biggest midterm races. Read it here.

Adam Frisch’s lead over Lauren Boebert is now razor thin

 

The Florida man with a big red plan

Intelligencer’s Matt Stieb parses the political aftermath for reelected governor (and would-be master of the GOP universe) Ron DeSantis:

In his messianic [victory] speech, DeSantis lauded Florida as a “refuge of sanity when the world went mad.” He was speaking of the early end of coronavirus lockdowns in the state, but the comment could easily be applied to the GOP over the past two years. Trump was not on the ballot, and yet his constant media presence, mediocre endorsements, and personal obsession with his 2020 loss may have cost Republicans winnable races in 2022. Meanwhile, in Florida, DeSantis buttressed his scant win in 2018 by using the pandemic and culture war issues to elevate himself as the only post-Trump option his party has. …

Conservative media was in thrall. The Wall Street Journal editorial board described his win as the “DeSantis Florida Tsunami.” Steve Doocy gushed on Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning that “people love him, they just love him in Florida.” The New York Post crowned him king.

Read the rest of Matt’s review here.

Meanwhile in Trump’s imagination


Intelligencer’s Margaret Hartmann collects the former president’s various public emanations since Tuesday morning:

Trump’s public façade finally started to crack a bit on Wednesday afternoon when he acknowledged that aspects of Election Day were “somewhat disappointing” — though he also touted his candidates’ “219 WINS.” (As Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore noted back in May, Trump “has been furiously padding his win record by backing unopposed House incumbents in safe seats, so the numbers don’t tell us much.”)

Read the rest of Margaret’s tour of Trump’s fantasyland here.

Biden: The ‘giant red wave … didn’t happen’


In an address on Wednesday afternoon, President Joe Biden touted his economic record while cautiously acknowledging his party’s strong performance in the midterms. “The American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are,” he said, noting that “pundits were predicting a giant red wave — it didn’t happen.” His most notable takeaway on the election was that the American people “don’t want every day going forward to be a constant political battle.”

In this light, Biden said he would be willing to work with new voices in the Capitol. “Regardless of what the final tally of these elections show — and there’s still some counting going on — I’m prepared to work with my Republican colleagues,” he said. “The American people have made clear they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well.” He added a caveat that he would not budge on abortion restrictions or anything that worsens inflation.

The states where Democrats won power trifectas


Michigan: In addition to Governor Gretchen Whitmer easily winning reelection on Tuesday, Democrats won majorities in Michigan’s House and Senate as well — giving them full control of the state government for the first time in four decades.

Minnesota: Governor Tim Walz won reelection and Democrats took back the state’s Senate, giving them full power in the North Star State for the first time since 2013.

Maryland: Democrats held onto power in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly, and Wes Moore was elected to be the state’s first black governor, replacing Republican Larry Hogan.

Massachusetts: Democrats already controlled the state’s House and Senate; and Maura Healey won the race to replace Republican Charlie Baker as governor.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Democrats will end up with power trifectas in a total of 18 states, while Republicans still have full control in 23 states. A few more are still up grabs, as well:

The Dobbs dynamic

Voters affirmed abortion rights in several states on Tuesday, as Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore highlights:

Voters in Kentucky defeated a ballot measure that aimed to eliminate abortion rights from the state constitution. And voters in Michigan, Vermont, and California have amended their state constitutions to explicitly acknowledge abortion rights. The door to state abortion bans opened by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year when it reversed Roe v. Wade is being closed by voters whenever they have the opportunity to weigh in on the matter. …

There was a much, much narrower ballot initiative at play in Montana, passed by the legislature long before Dobbs came down, requiring medical interventions to treat “born alive” survivors of botched abortions. It too is currently losing by a six-point margin. So there could be a pro-choice clean sweep at the polls. Reproductive-rights advocates and their Democratic allies are already planning additional ballot initiatives for 2024.

Trumpism really hasn’t made the GOP great again at the polls
All eyes on Arizona and Nevada


The senate races in the states, both of which remain uncalled, may make or break Democrats hold on the Senate, as Intelligencer’s Benjamin Hart explains:

Of the two, Arizona is looking a bit more solid for Democrats. Senator Mark Kelly holds a 4.8-point lead but with only 68 percent of votes reported. The New York Times projects his advantage will eventually dwindle to 2.8 points, based largely on the ballots yet to be counted in Maricopa County, which would come close to matching preelection polling averages. (The polling also accurately depicted Kelly running ahead of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs, who is locked in a razor-thin race with the frightening Kari Lake.) …

Nevada is even fuzzier. Catherine Cortez Masto, viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat in the Senate going into Tuesday, is trailing her opponent, Adam Laxalt, by 2.7 points, or 23,000 votes. But a huge question mark looms over the numbers: How many mail-in ballots, which skew heavily Democratic in the state, have yet to be counted? As Nevada election guru Jon Ralston writes, that number will determine her chances of making a comeback. Democratic turnout was low during in-person voting on Tuesday, which may indicate a large store of unprocessed mail ballots. Ralston estimates that if 70,000 or more ballots are outstanding and Democrats win them by a huge majority, Cortez Masto “has a shot.” The higher the number, the better chance she has. Given that, Cortez Masto may hold a slight edge — but unlike in Arizona, officials have not scheduled a time to release any more information, and it may take days to resolve.

That’s a lot of Johns
“Democracy was on the ballot, and democracy won”

That’s one of seven lessons Intelligencer’s Eric Levitz argues the election offered:

All in all, this looks like a poor showing for the “stop the steal” movement. And if things break right in Nevada and Arizona, there won’t be a die-hard Trumpist in charge of overseeing elections in any of the top-six battleground states.

More broadly, the fact that many of the GOP’s most authoritarian candidates — including Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano — drastically underperformed relative to more banal Republicans establishes beneficent incentives for the party going forward. It turns out, the median voter dislikes violent insurrections against the U.S. government and the conspiratorial delusions that justify them.

At the same time, as the Washington Post notes, it looks like at least 143 election deniers will emerge victorious in their House races, “ticking past the 139 House Republicans who objected to the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.” On the other hand:

Read the rest of Eric’s takeaways, including how “voters might not hate the Biden economy as much as they think,” here.

Another runoff in Georgia, where politics have only gotten uglier since 2020

As many expected would happen, Georgia’s senate race will be decided by a runoff election next month, since neither Raphael Warnock nor Herschel Walker were able to secure more than 50 percent of the vote. Explains Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore:

The fight will continue on December 6, when Warnock faces Walker in a general-election runoff triggered by Georgia’s rare majority-vote requirement for public offices. With the final votes still trickling in, Warnock has just over 49 percent of the vote and Walker has just under 49 percent, with a libertarian candidate holding the balance. On Wednesday afternoon, CNN projected that the race will go to a runoff. It’s unclear whether control of the Senate will hang in the balance once again, as it did in 2020, but the runoff will likely be close.

Zak Cheney Rice meanwhile writes that for all the progress Democrats have made in the state, it has not prompted Georgia Republicans to become any more moderate. Quite the opposite, in fact:

Extremism in Georgia has mostly been rebranded as relative temperance. If 2020 marked a local sea change, highlighted by the blue wave that engulfed the Atlanta metro area, the GOP did not interpret it as a shift that required appeasement but as an opportunity to dig in their heels. Ticket-splitting has allowed Warnock to outperform his fellow Democrats but has mainly advantaged Republicans. The GOP’s big takeaway from 2020 seems to be that the pastor turned politician is a special candidate whose success says little about Georgia’s partisan inclinations or their own need to adapt. Nothing that happened in this election is likely to change that.

Read the rest of Zak’s analysis here.

Trump is lashing out


The former president said on Election Day that if Republicans win, “I should get all the credit, and if they lose, I should not be blamed at all.” One day later, Trump is apparently blaming everyone else instead:

Haberman also reports that some of Trump’s advisers are suggesting he should postpone announcing his presidential run for 2024 until after next week, though doing so would basically admit the Democratic midterm rout.

And DeSantis may soon have him on the ropes


Intelligencer’s Jonathan Chait writes that GOP elites are coalescing around the Florida governor, who had the best night of anyone in the party on Tuesday:

Trump’s greatest advantage over DeSantis, and the one issue on which DeSantis has let Trump outflank him on the right, is the 2020 election. Trump fervently insists he won, while DeSantis (like most Republican officials) refuses to say anything. DeSantis, who appears almost exclusively in party-aligned media, has managed to avoid the topic. In a contested primary, Trump will make it hard for him to dodge the issue and will use it to paint DeSantis as a dissembler.

But I believe DeSantis will have a response. He can call Trump a loser, and if Trump insists the election was stolen, DeSantis will berate him for letting the election get stolen. DeSantis won’t denounce the coup attempt; he will denounce Trump for its lack of success. The promise he will make to the base will be to fight stronger and meaner than Trump and do whatever it takes to win power.

Read the rest of Jon’s thoughts here.

Democrats have overperformed in the House, but they still lost their DCCC chair


Though the Democratic Party appears to have defied expectations in numerous House races, that success came at the expense of one of the party’s leaders. CBS News is reporting that Representative Sean Patrick Maloney has called his opponent, State Assemblymember Mike Lawler, to concede. After redistricting upended the New York political world, Maloney, the head of the DCCC and a five-term congressman, decided to run in a newly redrawn district that now contained his home. Maloney decisively beat back a challenge from the left in the 17th District but soon found himself in a tight race, with Lawler and Republican groups hammering him on the airwaves on crime. He’ll be the first DCCC chair to lose reelection in decades.

Ron Johnson’s resilience


Intelligencer contributor Ross Barkan notes that Johnson’s victory on Tuesday “demonstrated that, on a night when Republicans lost a senate seat in Pennsylvania, no amount of controversy could keep Republicans in Wisconsin from closing ranks around him.”

Where things stand on Wednesday morning


Well, that was unexpected. As of late morning, Democrats appear to have eked out several major wins across the country. On the Senate level, the race in Pennsylvania has been called for John Fetterman, and Mark Kelly looks like he can hold on to his lead in Arizona. Even some losses were far less ugly than expected: Mandela Barnes is currently trailing Ron Johnson by a point in Wisconsin, and Cheri Beasley came close in North Carolina. In the House, Democrats managed to stop the losses early, flipping seats in Ohio and Texas. And at the state level, Democrats performed well in gubernatorial races and are expected to have trifecta control in Minnesota and Michigan, the latter for the first time in 40 years.

Despite the sucker punch last night, Republicans managed a few notable wins. Ron DeSantis shored up his potential as a 2024 candidate with a big win in the governor’s race in Florida, where he will oversee a GOP supermajority in the legislature. In the House, Republicans are still poised to win by a very small margin. And it’s possible they could still take control of the Senate. Adam Laxalt is ahead in Nevada, while the most expensive race of the cycle in Georgia appears headed to a runoff in December. Unfortunately, this is all far from over.

A Lauren Boebert defeat is looking increasingly likely
Democracy was on the ballot, and it appears to be winning
Gretchen Whitmer wins reelection


Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer has won a second term as governor, defeating the Republican nominee Tudor Dixon, who has promoted lies about the 2020 election. Though a poll from last week reported to show the governor in a tie with her conservative challenger, FiveThirtyEight had been projecting Whitmer as the likely winner.

Fetterman delivers big for Democrats


John Fetterman, the big brash Pennsylvania Democrat who was nearly killed by a stroke during this year’s campaign, has narrowly defeated Mehmet Oz.

Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore explains how he won the crucial Senate seat for Democrats:

[The result gives] Democrats a crucial takeover of a Republican-held seat and a good chance of maintaining control of the upper chamber after a hard-fought campaign in which the Democratic lieutenant governor lost and found both his health and momentum. Fetterman won big margins in Pittsburgh and in the Philadelphia area. (Late returns and a slow count in Philly, exacerbated by Republican legislation and lawsuits, will only pad his victory.)

Read the rest of Ed’s look back at the race here.

Republicans failed to convince voters to trust them


Intelligencer’s Jonathan Chait writes that Democrats have been vindicated by the results so far:

It is the normal state of affairs for a newly elected president to see his party rebuked decisively in the first midterm election. When the president is presiding over a bad economy — and, despite low unemployment, this very much is one — this tendency becomes something close to an iron law.

The 2022 midterm elections appear to have broken that law. Democratic candidates for House, Senate, and governor have all performed far better than almost anybody expected. By the standards of how midterms elections go, it should be considered a vote of confidence in the party.

Read the rest of Jon’s take here.

The independent impact


ED KILGORE: In the chatter about a late pro-GOP trend heading into Tuesday, one of the factors you heard about a lot was the ancient wisdom that late-deciding independents would break against the party controlling the White House, which they usually do in midterm elections. It seemed particularly likely this time around, given the president’s low job-approval ratings and the big majority of voters unhappy with the general direction of the country.

But according to exit polls, independent voters were actually carried narrowly by Democrats (49-48). Polls also showed that voters who made up their minds in the last month broke for Democrats 51-47.

New Yorkers sign off on big-time green borrowing


A multi-billion-dollar environmental initiative got the green light from New York voters on Tuesday, the Gotham Gazette reports:

Voters across New York have approved $4.2 billion in state borrowing proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature to pay for major projects environmentalists say are key to developing a more robust response to climate change and pollution. In numbers sure to shift as more votes are counted, initial election night tallies showed about 68% of voters approving the measure, 28% disapproving, and 12% of voters not weighing in at all. The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act authorizes the state to take on the debt in the coming years to pay for flood risk mitigation, clean water infrastructure, land conservation, emissions reduction, and other climate initiatives. The only statewide referendum on the ballot this year, the bond act may serve as a litmus test for voters’ anxieties over the environment and state spending.

Blame Florida?
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