What, if anything, did the midterms tell us about the country—other than underwhelming Republicans could still take the House and Senate?
During the COVID lockdowns, American elections radically changed to mail-in and early voting. They did so in a wild variety of state-by-state ways. Add ranked voting and a required majority margin to the mess and the result is that once cherished Election Day balloting becomes increasingly irrelevant.
Election Night also no longer exists. Returns are not counted for days. It is intolerable for a modern democracy to wait and wait for all sorts of different ballots both cast and counted under radically different and sometimes dubious conditions.
The Democrats—with overwhelming media and money advantages—have mastered these arts of massive and unprecedented early, mail-in, and absentee voting. Old-fashioned Republicans count on riling up their voters to show up on Election Day. But it is far easier to finesse and control the mail-in ballots than to “get out the vote.”
The country is more divided in more ways than ever. America’s interior just gets redder and the bicoastal corridors bluer.
Exceptional Republican gubernatorial or senatorial candidates like Lee Zeldin, Tudor Dixon, and Tiffany Smiley in blue states like New York, Michigan, or Washington cannot win upsets against even so-so Democratic incumbents—even during a supposedly bad election cycle for Democrats, laboring under a president with a 40 percent approval rating.
Similarly, media-spawned leftist heartthrobs like Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams can burn through hundreds of millions of dollars. But they still cannot unseat workmanlike Republican incumbents in Texas and Georgia.
Out-of-state immigration has only solidified these red-blue brand polarizations.
Over the last decade, millions of conservatives have fled California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to Florida and Texas.
The former states got bluer as New York governors like Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul said good riddance to fleeing conservatives—who were welcomed as refugees to red “free states.”
As voters self-select residences on ideological grounds and the deleterious effect of blue-states’ governance, the country is gravitating into two antithetical nations. Americans vote not so much for individual personalities as blocs of incompatible parties, causes, and ideologies.
Debates count for little anymore, especially after the disastrous performance of winners John Fetterman and Kathy Hochul.
Democrats often limited or avoided them altogether. And the Republican charging and complaining that they did so meant little at all.
Democrats still voted for Democratic candidates, regardless of John Fetterman’s clear cognitive inability to serve in the Senate and despite Joe Biden’s failures, harm to the middle class, and unpopularity.
Most Republicans are similar party loyalists, but not quite to the same degree—at least if some feared supporting a hardcore Trump-endorsed candidate might give them grief among family and friends.
Winning or losing means revving up party bases, not running as much on a variety of issues. Biden’s vicious attacks on conservatives as semi-fascists and un-American worked. When he recklessly warned that democracy’s death was synonymous with Democrats losing, he further inflamed his base.
Biden also goaded young people to vote by temporarily lowering gas prices through draining the strategic petroleum reserve, offering amnesty for marijuana offenses, and canceling half a trillion dollars of student loan debt. He told young women that they would die without unlimited abortions. And most of that mud stuck.
In contrast, Republicans wrongly assumed all voters, red and blue, sensibly cared most about spiking inflation, unaffordable food and fuel, an open border, and a disastrous foreign policy.
Americans do worry, but also demand concrete solutions that they often did not hear from even insightful critics of Biden’s ruinous agendas.
Moreover, in the last days of the election, Biden and the media effectively smothered those existential issues by claiming the country was threatened by insurrectionists and pro-life fanatics. Stooping to claim the attacker of Paul Pelosi—a crazed, homeless, nudist, illegal alien—was the veritable tip of the supposed MAGA insurrectionary spear proved to be effective Harry-Reid-style, October-surprise demagoguery.
Ron DeSantis likely emerges as the dominant force in conservative politics. His landslide win in Florida carried all down-ticket statewide candidates throughout Florida, which has become as utterly red as California has turned all blue.
To the degree Republican gubernatorial candidates not supported by Trump easily won their races in states like Georgia and Ohio, they helped Trump-supported senatorial candidates. To the degree Trump-supported gubernatorial candidates lost badly such as in Pennsylvania, they hurt Trump-supported senatorial candidates.
Trump’s pre-election unexpected attack on DeSantis may have turned off a few thousand independents and Republicans from voting for Trump-affiliated candidates. And his pre-midterm boast that he would likely run for president may have scared—and energized—some last-minute, hard-core anti-Trumpers and Democrats to go out to vote.
Pollsters got it wrong—again. But this time once trustworthy conservative pollsters had little inkling that the simmering left-wing base was enthused by wild talk of abortion and insurrection. The real under-polled voters were not silent, wary Trump supporters, but this time around seething upscale women and college students.
Democratic opposition to a flawed and impaired Joe Biden running again in 2024 will recede. Republican loyalty to the unpredictable Trump could fade.
And both those realities will empower Ron DeSantis.
37 thoughts on “Tuesday Takeaways”
Dear Mr. Hanson,
I follow your writing and podcasts closely and find your analysis to be superb. You are very convincing to me. I comment only because I wonder what happened to your predictions in this election cycle. I agreed with the red wave analysis and your comments that people don’t like the coastal blue elites, but the election results are sobering. I am less convinced that ever that people vote against the coastal elite incompetents (for various reasons). Instead, they continue to vote these below-average bureaucrats into continued power. One factor I think you might consider is the size of federal, state and local governments. Government workers continue to support the incompetent bureaucrats who suck money out of the private sector to line the salaries and benefit packages of the government workers. Anyway, all the best to you. Keep punching.
I’m sure the FBI has some fake Russian spies ready to infiltrate DeSantis’ circles.
Even if the Governor wants to run, how much time does he have to decide and build a campaign?
The bigger problem is team blue always seems one step ahead. I don’t think team red will win solely by counterpunching and defense.
Because as you pointed out, team blue propaganda works, it’s become a religion. Which as you know, relies heavily on feelings and where actual proof lies in the afterlife.
My view is that its too early to make such pronouncements. This was better done a couple of days from now when skewed results come in and there is more time to clear ones head. An opinion from far away Finland.
Unfortunately most of your optimistic predictions didn’t materialize. Explaining everything by blaming imperfect state election laws is not convincing.
In Michigan and probably in several other states abortion was one of the dominating issues. Also Trump with his fixation on been cheated in 2020 turns him into a sore looser who in his selfishness is willing to divide the Republican party.
Yes, thanks to support from the leftist mainstream media (sadly, considered authoritative by so many), most of the mud did stick. Some consoling thoughts: Dems can no longer take the support of non-white groups for granted; if the Congressional flip happens even if by the slimmest of margins, a flip (and brake on nihilism) is still a flip; the Supreme Court may help; Twitter will soon escape strangulation (and influence other outlets?); and DeSantis may triumph.
Good analysis. Just remember that calling every Republican who didn’t vote for your preferred candidate coward is 1 something you can’t possibly know 2 not going to motivate them do what you want the next time 3 obscures what may be other important reasons for not voting for these candidates that would be useful to take into account in future elections. (Full disclosure: none of the “problem candidates” were on the ballot in my part of the country.)
It is so discouraging to even hope in elections anymore. The swamp both sides just don’t care. Encouraging my adult sons to vote as we all should. Now they say “why”. They do vote and I keep encouraging because it does matter
It appears that either the Democrats or Republicans can count on about 46% support. While the pollsters’ projections were badly wrong, perhaps there was never a red wave in the offing. But the election was not a Republican disaster. The Democrats, with their tiny majorities, wanted to “transform” the country. The Republicans will take the House and possibly the Senate, so the Republicans slim majority will stop these efforts save for whatever mischief the Dems might try between now and year end.
As regards Fetterman’s cognitive disabilities, it seems that as the parties have become more ideologically consistent and less of a big tent with both liberal and conservative members, that Americans are voting more along party lines much like they do in countries with parliamentary systems. Fetterman is a guaranteed vote for the Dems. A lot of Republicans will vote for the clearly unqualified Herschel Walker in the Georgia runoff election in the hopes of giving Republicans that seat. The days when people said that they vote for the man and not the party may be past.
Near term elections may also be close run things, with changes in government resulting in us careening from one side to the other. Longer term who knows, but I suggest taking a look at Joel Kotkin’s column noting that the growth is with the red states.
The blue states will lose electoral votes and power with each new census.
As usual, your balanced and thoughtful analysis are most welcomed. The question becomes, “Where do we go from here?” I’m sure you will write an article to that effect, with your insightful and safe approach. More importantly the party and candidate that answers that question, effectively, will be best poised in 2024. Many of today’s issues will fade away, as the American body politic has a very short-term memory. What can be the issues that “stick”, that can truly help sway the electorate? That will be the $1M question to be answered in the coming 2 years. Thank you again for always “keeping it real”!
The governmental/legal attacks on Trump may have the unintended consequence of inducing Trump running in 2024 as a legal defense rather than his innate desire to do this all over again. His prospective role as a kingmaker seems to be sliding over to DeSantis for the next election cycle. We Republicans seem once again poised to “stave off a red wave” to quote the Babylon Bee today.
My problem with DeSantis running for president isn’t that he may be best candidate, it’s that moving him to the national level is a demotion. The nation is failing and it looks like our hope is some strong states to hold to our waning freedoms. We need DeSantis to keep a strong freedom state, strong and free.
Come now Victor. Even the Trump base, Sturgis as it is and thick with marijuana smoke, wished him to govern in laissez-faire populist fashion re. drugs. We Americans will relegate survival of women decisions vis a vis pregnancy to midwives, doctors. So even that is a chimerical punishment issue since the case of the young and blossomy beautiful headed to the infant shred clinic are lurid fantasia. It’s mostly malformed and dangerous expired eggs and yes life being excised, compressed and snapped.
You made me a historian but people do like to smoke whatever they wish.
Wait, are you saying that only older women go and have their eggs saved and of course being old they are malformed and create bad embryos? Younger women just have their babies killed at the abortion clinic, waiting for the perfect time to have a baby which they never think about until it’s too late
A little mentioned fact, huge percent of gov’t workers are Democrat. DOJ is biased 87% and powerful. Who knows what unknown dollars bought. here are reported 2020 election:
Political Donations from Federal Employees.
The Department of Justice had more than $2.3 million in donations with 87.6% going to Democrats.
The agency with the highest percentage going to Democrats was the Federal Communications Commission . 99.29% of donations from people in this agency went to Democrats.
The largest total amount going to Democrats from Post Office and more;
AFGE union $1,064,285 (95.%) $46,124 (4.%)
National Assn of Letter Carriers
$1,912,097 (81.%) $436,000 (18.%)
NARFE $968,336 (74%) $333,193 (26%)
NTEU $706,771 (97.%) $16,000 (2.%)
American Postal Workers Union
$1,159,185 (86.%) $188,025 13.%
Oh, yeah, and the fraud too.
Given Tuesdays results, I’m thinking Joe Biden does have a chance at a second term.
I am a Trump then and now. I just can not ignore the wonderful accomplishments, both domestically and foreign, that he did for our country, all the while being bombarded with attacks from all quarters. There is much more he can do for us all, if he is just allowed another four years. This of course is in addition to the accountability that we sorely need, if our institutions are ever to be trusted again.
BUT THIS IS WHAT I FEAR: If he runs in 2024 and does not get the Republican nomination, he will run as a 3rd party candidate. He, in my view, will do this even though he knows he is going to through the presidency to the Democrats. This will happen no matter the quality of Democratic candidate.
Why do I believe this. I believe this because I think his ego is just that big.
Sorry for my careless errors.
“I am a Trumper …”
“…he knows he is going to throw…”
Agree with VDH final analysis. DeSantis went from a 0.4% win 4 years ago to approximately a 20% win…in a state that was considered purple just a few years back.
Did he do it by campaigning? Well partially. But mostly, he did it with outstanding conservative leadership and vision. DeSantis represents all the positives of the MAGA agenda without the personal toxicity of Trump. Add in the fact that DeSantis’ relatively young age can move the whole country forward by leaving the aging Trump and aging/demented Biden behind. I sense that most Americans want to move on from political types who are in their 70’s and 80’s.
If Trump were to step aside and encourage/endorse DeSantis, his place in history will soar for what he accomplished in just 4 years. A civil war within the Republican party will be ugly and costly.
“Could” fade? Sounds like double speak. Maybe it’d be more helpful if you can write about why it’s taking so long to count the votes.
Trump will soon announce his next presidential run but today I don’t think he should. He cannot control himself! He should have stayed quiet and invisible during the election campaign but instead he carried on with rallies and other self serving distractions raising money for himself. If it hurts Trump his haters are so crazy that they vote against their own self interest. The number one agenda item of lefties is manmade global warming. Now Europe is living through the only possible outcome of turning off fossil fuels in favor of renewables – lack of sufficient energy, inflation, and poor economies. In Europe the answer to energy poverty is to double down with more solar and wind energy promises. That will not work. Physics and thermodynamics are not ideological. The public apparently still supports this approach. Support from average Joe makes sense thanks to Big Tech, Big Media, and academia who make it nearly impossible to even discuss the premise of manmade global warming. The amount of money to be wasted on green boondoggles by the American government exceeds imagination.
I believe it will be to Trump’s detriment and to the detriment of the Republican Party if the conversation already deteriorates into. Derisive name-calling. That may have worked during the 2016 campaign for the nomination; little Marco, terrible Ted, etc. , but at this early date, Desantis is emerging as a strong challenger for the mantle of power in the Republican Party. Trump sees him as a threat, thus the verbal slippage into the past. How about running against the Democrats and not dwelling on all the misdeeds perpetrated on himself these past years? Trump must focus on the detriment done to the middle class by Demos and woke establishment, and not so much his personal woes. Perhaps I’ve tuned in too many of his rallies.
winston churchill brought britain and the world through wwii, saving freedom and liberty. yet, when he ran for re-election as postwar prime minister of england, he lost.
people wanted change, wanted to forget the war, wanted a fresh start, to prove they could be their own heroes. they didnt need winston, any more.
trump put the republican party back on its feet, and he did wonders for the country in so many ways. he understood cause and effect—that money makes the world go round.
the left sabotaged trump at every turn, sullied his reputation, tried to ruin him, and undermine his policies that enriched our nation. he fought and won, virtually every time. yet oddly, those of his own conservative party, began to lose faith in him, and look elsewhere—as with winston churchill.
labor over-ran the conservatives and churchill. it is not unlikely that the left will over-run trump. right or wrong for our country, it looks like this is what will happen.
the more conservative faction of the right will abandon the more liberal and aging trump, latching on to the younger, apparently morally clean and correct desantis. we shall see.
for trump and his family, it has been a living hell of hate, lies, jealousy, and greed—partly politics, and grotesquely personal shenanigans.
one can only wish that trumps big announecment will be to pass the torch, before it is taken from him. this remarkable but “tragic hero,” would save himself from his own final humiliation.
what is le
Well said as usual Victor! I just hope that Trump doesn’t destroy the already flabbergasted Republican base. When you cannot defeat those who are in power and leading this country into the abyss, the mutilation of children, men can have periods and babies, drag queen story hour, inflation will reach epic levels by June 23, no southern border, gas will be at 5$ in no time, daily prices are rising, keeping warm will be a problem for many, military in disarray, being weak to our enemies is our strength, printing phoney$ with no backup, killing babies on the table is permissable and applauded and celebrated, everything they say is a lie, creating plague like pathogens just cause you can, hating the country you live in, praising your enemies as your friends, hating your friends, as you said being their lab rats in a sick experiment, wishing I’d wake up from this never ending nightmare, but then realizing we are living in the end of days, never fully understanding what the Tribulation would be, but knowing its nowhere near as bad as it is going to get, Sadly!
In 2006 the Army Corp of Engineers submitted a request for $5Billion for various waterway improvements. A pork laden bill of $25Billion was generated by the House and Senate to meet the request. For me this was the symbol of Govt. irresponsibility of the times. That year was the election when Pelosi first came to power.
In 2010 I donated what for me was a lot of money to various candidates. Republicans swept the House. In January, all the “leaders” that felt it their duty and obligation to dictate to me what light bulb I could buy, got the key committee assignments. Our “valiant” Republican warriors folded to Obama time and time and time again.
Fiscal insanity has entered a new dimension today. For example, Republicans backed Trillions in helicopter money for mis-named bills. They even signed on to “Common Sense” Gun reform. Why would a sentient person believe that they would bring required change to the insanity we face?
Perhaps it is close to that simple. Republicans have not re-gained sufficient credibility to have voters truly believe in them again. House leadership at least made an attempt. Senate has not. Both have actually worked to undermine, or leave unfunded, various Republican candidates. In Alaska, they actually supported the opposition.
You didn’t mentioned anything about Mitch McConnell and how he, and not Trump, was ultimately responsible for the Senatorial misses – McConnell pulling funding and underfunding various Trump endorsed candidates…many Republican candidates were outspent, 3:1, 4:1, and over 10:1 in New Hampshire for instance; coupled by historical precedence that Senate incumbents usually win 98% of the time.
I also believe that the “Red Wave” was deliberate hype (“false flag”) as opposed to a realistic expectation. Certainly was great for the media…ratings boomed to all time highs. Democrats we’re riled up about it. Typical American sensationalism.
Please don’t drink the Desantis bath water either…he’s is fortunate to govern a state which population had grown through its own “Red Wave” of immigration. Any other competent Republican candidate would had been able to walk away with a victory as well considering Florida’s favorable Republican demographics.
Most disconcerting is the ever growing voting block of post Baby Boomer voters, Gen X, Millineals, Gen Z,…as we’re aware, the vast majority of these voters invariably vote Democrat. I cannot see how the Republicans can change their voting habits…
Not all is lost if the Republicans win the House. At least they’ll be able to thwart the Democrat’s reckless and injurious agenda. A football analogy, winning 35-0 gives the same result as winning 7-0, a win is a win with an expected victory in the House.
Do we discard Trump like an old rag after he did so much good for the country and took so much personal abuse as well. Trump was rich enough to defy the monetary interests seeking influence with him . As a consequence he could not be bought off and thus was a threat to the Washington swamp. We don’t know about DeSantis and how he will do on the national stage but one thing is sure he will face the same liberal media and big tech demonization as Trump did.
The next Republican Congress should vote for a national holiday — Election Day. This would lead many states to change laws for one long day of voting. Limited mail in for those infirm with doctors note and military. Some states might continue Election ‘Month’ but this might diminish with time. Then we can get results same day or next day. The current system is nuts.
I fully agree, Dave. We should also make Veterans Day the new voting day and a full holiday.
In the 1994 and 2010 midterm Republican victories the main issues were healthcare and spending. This time around there was a plethora of issues: chronic inflation, soaring energy prices, rampant crime, etc.
So what explains the Republicans’ anemic performance on Tuesday?
How, for example, did an unimpressive trust fund baby who wanted to continue the status quo, open up the prisons, legalize hard drugs and apparently has receptive aphasia r/t CVA that makes him dependent on a machine to communicate win the Pennsylvania senate race by six points?
Similarly, I think we were all scratching our heads in 2020 when a tired old political hack who was mentally impaired and spent most of the campaign sequestered in his basement won the presidency by 7 million votes over his opponent.
I don’t have any of the answers to these conundrums, but if our republic is to survive someone needs to figure them out quickly.
What did the mid-terms tell us about the country? Don’t count your chickens until all the votes are “cured.”
There is no certainty at all that the
Republicans are going to retake the the House In this mid-term election as the tally is currently 202 /Democrats, 211 Republicans,; there is no momentum for the GOP, and Hope is Not a plan.
Inexplicably, and rather astonishing is the very real possibility that the Democrats May actually Pick up a Senatorial seat or Two to add to last years tally. The probable cause I would postulate is that there is no real concrete discomfort, nor any scarcity, hardship, or deprivation to change minds that America
needs a leadership change. However, winter seems to in a hurry this fall and along with it , a possible railroad strike, and a shortage of coal and oil that may blindside us all.
God Bless is all, we surely need his guidance.
Having reflected a few days, I focus on your repeated commentary on the ELITES vs the rest of us. I view the real power structure within the Republican Party as essentially no different from the other side. While this is most pronounced in the Senate, it also exists in the House. Recent Bi-Partisan, huge spending votes, Campaign funding allocations, refusals to lay out concrete plans as to what Republicans will commit to accomplish – are all indications of this. I can see individuals who have changed, but not the majority and not the Republican Power structure.
Until this changes, disappointment will be the deserved norm. The Republican Party needs to clean its own house – independent of Trump. I am sufficiently distrustful of them, that if the party were on fire, I’m not sure I would bother to cross the street to P_ss on them. Fool me once, shame on you. After that, it is on me. I need to be convinced and currently am not.
You are exactly correct about the unacceptably long vote counting. Why are we allowing this?
Stalin, normally not a worthy example, was right when he said “It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes” (paraphrased).
A suggestion–Require all voting and vote-counting to be done only on Election Day. Make everything digital–no more paper.
Just so you out there might know, for the first time in history, no provision was made for our military deployed overseas to Vote! How do I know this….son is on USS Bush deployed in the Med. and him and his fellow sailors couldn’t Vote defending this Commie s__this this country has become! Sad!
Just so you out there might know, for the first time in history, no provision was made for our military deployed overseas to Vote! How do I know this….son is on USS Bush deployed in the Med. and him and his fellow sailors couldn’t Vote defending this Commie s__tbox this country has become! Sad!
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