1. Again, I wanted humiliation for Republicans – I wanted them to lose a lot of seats in our House and Senate. Still, Democrats will hold the Senate, meaning they’ll get two more years of judges, and by my reckoning they’ll finish with at least 213 House seats (adding in Alaska, Maine’s 2nd, Oregon’s 6th, Colorado’s 8th, New Mexico’s 2nd, and California’s 9th, 21st, 47th, and 49th), with 218 still possible, though unlikely (the best remaining path being through California’s 3rd, 13th, 22nd, and 41st and then Colorado’s 3rd in a recount). The last election like this? 1982, the election that cemented the Reagan Revolution! Democrats picked up over two dozen House seats that year, but with Boll Weevil Southern Democrats pretty much voting with Reagan all the time, Republicans had a working majority in the House then, if not an actual one, and Democrats netted only one Senate seat, reducing the Republicans' actual Senate majority from 54 to 53.
Heartening, in that context, but not for long – Republicans may act humbled now that they didn’t get the electoral sturm und drang they counted on, but if/when they win our House, they’ll promptly forget their humility and act like the fascists they wish they were. Incessant investigations into Hunter Biden, ugly and shameful though that’ll be, might be the best result we can expect from a Republican House. I doubt they’ll successfully defy our will to use the debt limit to force Social Security and Medicare cuts – though they’ll try, and, again, it’ll be ugly and shameful – but they might succeed in defunding our FTC and our SEC and our CFPB and our DOJ’s Antitrust Department; in fact, I bet that’s their real endgame, because the longer Biden Administration actually enforces antitrust law, the worse shape Republicans will be in every election after this one. We’ll be getting on Joe Biden about that! And you know our “liberal” media will pump out ten thousand think-pieces about how the so-called Freedom Caucus “holds Speaker McCarthy hostage.” News flash: Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene are who the Republican Party is now. Kevin McCarthy is their beard. And he likes it that way.
On the other hand, if Democrats do manage to hold our House, we’ll have a lot less drama. And if leadership would read people like Josh Gottheimer the riot act, that sure would be nice.
2. Ballot questions, again, generally made democracy look good – put a question directly to voters and they usually make much better choices than politicians do. Three states enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions, while a fourth (Kentucky) rejected an effort to make abortion unconstitutional there and a fifth (Montana) rejected an effort to create a massive loophole in abortion rights. Nebraska and Nevada voters raised state minimum wages to $15/hour and $12/hour, respectively; Connecticut and Nevada voters expanded voting rights, while Arizona voters rejected stricter Voter ID requirements; and California overwhelmingly rejected ballot initiatives that would legalize online sports betting and sports betting on tribal lands (and they say people don’t have morals out there!). Pot legalization was a mixed bag – Maryland and Missouri voters said yes, while Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota voters said no – but that’s two more states legalizing pot (and thus lightening police officers’ burdens), and I’m old enough to remember when zero states legalized pot.
3. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez – whom the pundits said wouldn’t win Washington’s 3rd, but what do they know? – has provided the blueprint for how Democrats should win back rural and rust belt areas, much more so than Tim Ryan, it turns out. Unlike the right-wingers who hide behind “small businesses” when they try to cut their corporate paymasters’ taxes, Ms. Perez can tell you how the catalytic converter shortage exposed real supply chain problems (i.e., that big dealerships can muscle small car repair shops out of parts with impunity). She also talks about police reform in a way working folks would relate – stop buying night vision goggles and start paying cops more, she says. And no use saying well, she only beat a Trumphole, because, hey, did Tim Ryan beat his Trumphole opponent? No, he did not.
4. A lot of bad people got re-elected – though if Ron Johnson really sold his soul to the devil for another term as a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, he paid too much – but at least Paul LePage got absolutely buried in his attempt to reclaim the Governor’s mansion in Maine, where (thanks to ranked-choice voting) independent candidates can no longer take enough sane people’s votes away from Democrats. To think Mr. LePage had the cojones to say that folks on the left and the right have just got to start talking to each other again! That’s like Donald Trump saying people in America are too angry! (Actually, Mr. Trump did say Greta Thunberg, who’s a billion times the person he’ll ever be, was “too angry.”)
5. So how did incessant Republican whining about “rising crime rates” resonate with voters? Now it can be told: not very well! It worked especially poorly in Pennsylvania, where state legislators tried to make impeaching Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (for not doing enough about crime, or something) their October Surprise; that effort fell flat at month’s end, likely because it was always noxious and offensive drama, but if “rising crime” were such a winning issue generally, then how did Pennsylvania Democrats get in position to flip the state legislature’s lower house after entering Election Day 23 seats down?
6. Looks like I’m getting a dozen emails a day from Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia for another few weeks, now that he’ll face Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff. Maybe Republican voters will stay home merely because the race won’t decide Senate control anymore, but maybe they won’t, and if Republicans take our House before then, Democratic voters will be rather more demoralized than they know now. Still, I’d be pleased to see Democrats take this race seriously and win it, not just because Mr. Warnock is a good Senator who deserves to win, but because with 51 seats the party can marginalize Kyrsten Sinema even further. Yes, as we’ve already seen with the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re much better off dealing with Joe Manchin’s old-school corruption than Ms. Sinema’s post-modern corruption. Let her go work for a hedge fund in two years, where she can sell her relationships, no, not with other Democratic Senators, but with Republican ones. You ever see her in a photo with other Democrats? No, you have not – but you’ve seen plenty of photos of her with Republicans. Such a maverick!
7. So whom are we going to war with first – Russia or Florida? Republicans clearly have an even bigger stranglehold over that state than we realized in 2020. Calling Marco Rubio an empty suit would represent a profound insult to empty suits, yet he beat Val Demings by 16 points. And Val Demings was a good candidate! Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis beat Charlie Crist by 20, which should remind us that you don’t run a nice guy against an asshole. Mr. DeSantis’s redistricting antics netted Republicans three more House districts, though even in that he was outpaced by the incompetence of New York Democrats, who netted Republicans four.
8. John Fetterman flipped the only Senate seat to change hands by beating Mehmet Oz 51-47, while Josh Shapiro trounced Doug Mastriano by 16 points in that state’s gubernatorial election; Mr. Oz wasn’t as execrable a candidate as Mr. Mastriano – we’re talking about the difference between a clown and an arsonist here – but I must conclude that Mr. Fetterman’s stroke and subsequent shaky debate performance moved the needle in Mr. Oz’s direction. If we’d gotten to see John Fetterman at his best in this campaign, he might have won by 20 points, and then the pundits, who know nothing about anything of consequence, would have mystified him by saying he’s a “unique” candidate. It’s true that Democrats don’t often run a guy who’s that funny, that smart, that social media-savvy, and that able to relate to working folks, but truth is there are people like John Fetterman all over America, and a lot of them even want to serve the public. Will Democrat consultants notice them now? I kid, of course – if you’re paid to be blind, you’ll stay blind.