In a prior column, I had referred to Trump as Trumpty-Dumpty and had my own version of the nursery rhyme. Not surprisingly, the Trumpians were not amused and said so in their Letters to the Editor. This past week, the New York Post, not exactly known as a supporter of Democrats or liberal causes, on the front page, referred to Trumpty-Dumpty and had their own rhyme which was similar to mine.
In order to understand why the election turned out the way it did, it is necessary to look at the past. The midterm election during Bill Clinton’s first term was in 1994. A Gallup poll gave Clinton an approval rating 46% and a disapproval rating of 46%. The Republicans won 52 new seats in the House of Representatives and eight new Senate seats. As bad as that was, it was even worse during Obama’s first midterm election in 2010. Obama had a 45% approval rating and a 47% disapproval rating around Election Day. The Republicans picked up 63 seats in the House of Representatives and nine Senate seats.
President Biden, at the latest Gallup poll before the election, had a lower favorable rating than both Clinton and Obama. He only had a favorable rating of 40% and an unfavorable rating of 56%. Thus, it would have been expected that in the 2022 midterms, the Democratic Party would get a “shellacking,” as Obama called it in 2010. Many pundits expected it to happen. Yet it didn’t happen. The Democrats kept control of the Senate. If they win the special election in Georgia, then they will have gained one seat. Right now, it is estimated that the Republicans will have picked up approximately ten seats in the House of Representatives giving them a slim majority.
If you examine the results of the 2020 election, you would not be surprised. Joseph Biden won because people were sick and tired of Trump’s shtick. They wanted a normal president. Another surprise in 2020 was that the Democratic Party did not do as well as expected. What hurt them was the progressives’ agenda and comments such as “Defund the Police.”
One would have expected both the Republican Party and the progressives in the Democratic Party to have learned from their mistakes in 2020. Instead, Trump doubled down, claiming that the election was stolen. Then came the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Even after January 6, Trump continued to peddle the big lie. The Republican base bought the idea, “hook, line, and sinker.” Thus, in order to win the Republican primary, candidates had to kiss Trump’s ring and profess the belief in the big lie. These Trumpian election deniers in competitive states went up in flames in the 2022 general election. The highest profile denier could be in Arizona where the Democratic candidate for governor ran a lackluster campaign and would not debate the Republican candidate. Yet voters told the Republican candidate to go jump in a lake. I had little doubt that the loser, Kari Lake, will scream the Trumpian claim of a fraudulent vote. It will go nowhere. She will be seen as a sore loser.
Another candidate handpicked by Trump was New Jersey transplant Mehmet Oz as the Republican candidate for Senator for Pennsylvania, which had a retiring Republican senator. There was no yellow brick road for him. He couldn’t even beat a progressive Democrat who had a stroke and had trouble making coherent responses during the debate. People may have been worried about Fetterman’s fitness, but it was not enough to cause them to vote for Oz.
One of the right-wing extremists, Lauren Boebert, just squeaked by in a Republican district to a relatively unknown Democrat.
This was not limited to Republicans. The progressives also had their head handed to them in contested races. Stacey Abrams, who refused to concede the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia, lost by a bigger margin in a repeat contest with the Republican governor Brian Kemp. Kemp had trounced a Trump-handpicked candidate in the primary. Also, Beto O’Rourke was easily beaten in Texas. These were the progressives’ best hopes to win a race for governor.
The biggest shock happened in New York State, where Republicans had a much better night than expected. In 2020, Eric Adams won the contest for New York City Mayor with a law-and-order platform. There were also some Republican pickups in City Council and other seats in the state legislature. Yet the progressives in New York didn’t get the message. The Democratic supermajority in the Assembly and in the State Senate continued business as usual. They ignored pleas to make significant substantive changes to the bail law. Governor Hochul went along with their position.
The voters gave the Democrats in New York the message again. For the first time since 1994, all of the congressional seats in Nassau and Suffolk County went Republican. Democrats lost two “upstate seats.” In total, four seats flipped from Democrat to Republican. If it wasn’t for these reversals, the Democratic Party would have kept the majority in the House of Representatives. Also, the Democrats lost their supermajority in the State Senate. Lee Zeldin had the strongest performance of a Republican running for governor since 1994, losing by only 5%. In New York, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one, which makes the results even more shocking.
The biggest winner on the Republican side was Ron DeSantis, who destroyed the Democratic candidate for governor by winning in areas never won before by Republicans. For some, a star was born. He is looked at as an alternative to Trump. What is overlooked in explaining his success was how he handled the hurricane. He met with the president, and they held a joint news conference and praised each other. This is how normal politicians act. They may be rivals but when there is a crisis, they put away partisan feelings and work together for the good of the country.
President Biden is also a winner. He understood the mood of the country just as he did in 2020 when he won. The country wanted normalcy on the ballot. The country rejected the extremists, including the election deniers. They realized that this is more important than any economic issue. Michigan was a mirror image of New York, where the Democrats had great success in statewide offices and in the legislature.
The pollsters and the pundits were also consistent. They were wrong in 2016 about Trump’s chances to win. They were wrong in 2020 about the Democrats’ chances in the Congress, and in 2022 about the Republicans’ chances. How much longer are people going to waste their money and time hiring and relying on anything they predict? They also did not learn from their mistakes.
The blame game is in full force. There is no indication that Trump has changed his tune. He is blaming everyone else but himself for this debacle. He is attacking Ron DeSantis, calling him Ron DeSanctimonious, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, claiming that his last name is Chinese. Although there is some rumbling among some Republicans to move on, nothing will happen unless the MAGA base concludes that they have had enough of Trump’s “winning.” By the time that this column is published, Trump will have declared his candidacy for the presidency. This can only help the Democrat’s chances to win the Georgia Senatorial runoff.
In New York, the governor has stuck with her prior position concerning bail reform. There is no indication that there is any great drive in the State Senate or the Assembly to change the law. New York Democrats may have to lose more elections in New York before they realize that their position on this important issue is not popular.
As the quote attributed to Albert Einstein goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”