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The red wave that never happened
Democrats built a blue dam. Republicans fizzled out in a ripple.
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After all the talk by the corporate media and the breathless reports by election forecasters and pollsters — and all the cocky confidence of Republican leaders — there was no red wave last night.
As of right now, control of the House is still undecided — even though GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had planned on a press conference before midnight celebrating his big tsunami that didn’t happen. As it looks, Republicans are on track to to take the House in races that are still being counted. But it’s not the big win they hoped in the House.
And in the Senate, Democrats picked up Pennsylvania, with John Fetterman’s glorious win, as Georgia is still being decided, as well as Arizona and Nevada. Even if Democrats lose one of them — and Georgia could very well go to a runoff — they will retain the Senate. And if they win Georgia they’ll have 51 seats, one more than they had.
Abortion rights and threats to democracy powered Democrats in pushing back Republicans, who ran solely on inflation and the bogus issue of crime (which was all about racism) and immigration (also about racism). Those who said Democrats needed to make the economy and crime front and center were wrong. Democrats needed to fight back against distorted attacks, which they did, and warn about the GOP planning to gut Social Security and Medicare, which they also did.
But the right strategy was to run on the issues that would defy gravity: the historic reality that the party out of power gains seats in the first midterm election after a presidential election.
No, president Biden’s approval ratings didn’t drag Democrats down either — because the threat to democracy and basic human rights was greater in many voters’ minds.
Donald Trump is toxic to the GOP. While a few of the candidates he backed, like J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race, pulled it out, Trump, as I’ve said for months and months on my radio program, always hurts Republicans when he’s out front but not on the ballot himself.
Women triumphed in this election. The first races called, and some later, which were bellwethers and would be the proof of no red wave, were races in which women were targeted by Trumpist men: Reps Abigail Spanberger in Virginia, Marcy Kaptur in Ohio and Elissa Slotkin in Michigan; Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire; and Governor Kathy Hochul in New York. They led the way in beating back the election-denying MAGA candidates. And again, the issue of reproductive rights fueled their election wins and sent voters to the polls. In Michigan, voters passed an abortion rights amendment — and re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer — and in Kentucky (yes, Kentucky!) voters voted down an anti-abortion amendment.
Florida has become the center of MAGA universe. The odious Governor Ron Desantis and Senator Marco Rubio cruised to victory, as did Republicans up and down the ticket. Florida was the only place where Democrats didn’t over-perform corporate media and pollster expectations. It now becomes the heart of the GOP, with Ron DeSantis leading it.
The infighting in the GOP will be intense. Certainly Trump’s loses, with DeSantis victorious, sets up a mega-battle of two men who were already bickering. Trump’s big plan was to use this election as a victory lap, and then announce his run for the presidency next week — which is hilarious in retrospect. Now, the only Republican who can claim he has coattails is Trump’s growing nemesis, DeSantis. And already the GOP pundits were crying about how Trump hurt them in the Senate. Of course, many will be loath to cross him.
Meanwhile, in the House, if the GOP takes control but not by many seats, McCarthy’s leadership will be threatened by the Majorie Taylor Greene (who was re-elected) faction. The fighting will be epic. Will they go forward with trying to impeach President Biden with a narrow majority and (hopefully) no control of the Senate? Attempt to hold the debt ceiling hostage to gut Social Security and Medicare? Waste all their time on Hunter Biden investigations? All of those things will come at great costs in 2024 and they will be battling one another.
So, just a few early takes. We still don’t know the outcome of either the Senate or the House, and that will determine how much any of this sticks. But overall, I think Democrats did a great job, and the GOP — and our corporate media, which I’ve written about again and again in this election — did not.
Tell us your thoughts and please consider this an ongoing discussion as we await further results.