I went into this week’s election night with the same sort of unease, albeit at a lower level, that I felt in 2018. It is a distinct version of anxiety all of its own.
I set up my standard election night mode – browser windows open and read, one for Twitter, a separate one for I’ve Seen Enough Guy Dave Wasserman’s Twitter feed, and several for various election live blogs including 538, plus Steve Kornacki on the old-school tube. This enables me to get the best grip on what is happening, often ahead of others. In fact, I’ve had to talk friends down off the ledge who were overreacting to early GOP leads, unaware that outstanding votes to be counted were all in blue areas.
This year, it was deja vu all over again, as a wise late Yankees catcher and philosopher once said. I’ll let MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explain it to you:
The political experience of the Biden era for Democrats is: extended periods of intense anxiety about terrible polling, occasionally punctuated by strangely positive election nights. And then the cycle repeats.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 8, 2023
Turns out, as my colleague Cassandra wrote on Wednesday, a lot of people don’t like anti-abortion zealots. Especially women. Who knew, go figure, and all that.
We are of course going through all the “Republicans are doing some soul searching” stuff that we always hear after they get their asses handed to them and no doubt after a week or so of searching they will indeed not find a soul. And go right back to the same old women-hating platform and probably not really try to nuance it.
Speaking of nuance, Fleece Vest Wearer Glenn Youngkin’s strategy, namely “how can that man be a fascist he’s just like the district sales manager who coaches my kid’s suburban Little League team,” no longer seems to have the same juju it did when it got Youngkin elected governor of Virginia in 2021. Apparently, the genteel suburban version of destroying women’s healthcare, banning books, and hating LGBTQ people did not work.
Ol’ Glenn had big plans after he would carry the day last Tuesday when his allies took back both chambers of his state’s legislature and roll in school board and other local elections. In fact, he was floating rumors of jumping in the race for president. How did that work out for him?
Not so good, as the Dems now control both chambers and many of his crazed book-banner soldiers lost. And one of the senate seats was won by a trans woman.
Calvin and Hobbes really found that funny.
In my home state of Pennsylvania (pronounced “pee-ehhh”), the Republican running for our state supreme court attempted to not talk about abortion at all, and still lost.
It wasn’t all high-fives and champagne for Democrats, as our Blog Boss Adrastos wrote this week given Elvis’s fifth cousin or whatever didn’t win the Mississippi governorship. It was fairly close, at least.
Now, the next thing to ponder is what this election means for next year’s election. Despite what White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday, “We have always said that voting matters and polls do not,” polls do matter to a degree this far out. On a side note, that statement was a real laugher for anyone who understands even a little how campaigns work, and Jean-Pierre knows it. But really, after four years of the Worst Press Secretaries of All Time lying constantly, let’s give her a pass.
Just remember that polls are a snapshot in time and not a prediction, and campaign people tend to be a lot better at reading polls than some of our journalists, and view polls this early as lists of things to work on in the next year. Plus, while there are real concerns in those polls, this past election offers more meaningful insights.
In late 2019, Joe Biden’s presidential bid faced negative polls and predictions, yet he won the Democratic nomination and the presidency based on actual votes. While this year is going to be very different due to a variety of factors like Fossil Fuel Weasel Joe Manchin possibly entering the race, that is something to think about.
Sure, Biden’s age is a concern, looking at the recent election results gives you a better understanding of the electorate’s choices.
Holding the governorship of Kentucky, taking control of the Virginia legislature, and winning key races in other states. These candidates were aligned with Biden’s agenda, even a little bit left of him.
Along with abortion rights, legalizing marijuana seems to be a winning issue. Perhaps the Democrats should look at how Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear won in low-income areas, kind of echoing the Rust Belt Dem’s strategy of left-leaning economic populism and decency in social issues. Union-supported candidates are winning, and Biden putting on that union shirt this week was a smart move. The majority of folks are not into fascist stuff, like book burning and yelling slurs at transgender candidates.
How will all this affect 2024? Who really knows? But perhaps a good strategy would be to look to the polls for things that need shored up for Democrats and look to this last election for ideas on what actually works. Maybe, just maybe, we have some reason for hope.
The last word goes to Queen. Savor the win, and get back to work.