Like many people I’m pleasantly surprised by the overall result, given the dominant narratives going into the election. I’m dreading another Georgia runoff, though I’m optimistic about the outcome (more on that below) and I’m hopeful that the Dems can hold the Senate, and maybe even pick up a 51–49 majority that would diminish the influence of recalcitrant Democrats like Manchin and Sinema. That’s the big picture. Here are a few assorted reactions to smaller points:
It’s time to stop thinking poll results tell us anything.
For the fourth straight election the polls were basically worthless. I know, data mavens will talk about “margin of error” and “a snapshot in time,” and so on. The fact is that the methodology behind polling is fundamentally broken, and there doesn’t appear to be any good mechanism for fixing it. There may be some value in small internal polls, but for the most part campaigns should stop using polls to inform their strategies, and we as news consumers should ignore the polls entirely. I’d love to think the news media might lessen their focus on poll data, but that’s not going to happen.
Even voters who don’t like Democrats like Democratic policies.
Progressive policies won almost everywhere they appeared on the ballot directly. This includes constitutional amendments protecting abortion rights and ending prison slavery, as well as environmental initiatives. The one exception is that Louisiana voters chose to protect prison slavery, which is… interesting.
Zeldin’s loss in New York means a big sigh of relief.
I did not really think Lee Zeldin could win, and the margin of victory for Hochul is more proof that polls are worthless. The truth is he was never really close, and all we all endured a manufactured narrative that meant more clicks for the New York Times and more talking points for Fox News. That said, if Zeldin had won it would have shifted the political landscape, signaling that “CRIME CRIME CRIME” was a winning platform and likely setting back criminal justice reforms for a decade or more.
Maloney’s loss should be a lesson for the Dems.
At present it appears the only Democratic House member to lose a seat in New York State will be the chair of the DCCC. What an embarrassment. Yes, the circumstances that led to New York State’s updated map were unfortunate, but it was Maloney who chose to push out Mondaire Jones, a wildly popular candidate and the first gay Black man ever elected to Congress, to advance his own ambitions. Pat Ryan is still holding on to his lead in Maloney’s former district, and as of January Maloney — a straight white Democrat who ran on a pro-police platform — will be a former Congressman. If you want votes from Democrats, you might want to run a Democrat.
What to make of Georgia?
It is simply wild for two statewide races to show an eight-point disparity between parties. At the moment Raphael Warnock holds a lead of almost 0.9% over his opponent, while Brian Kemp trounced Stacey Abrams by more than 7.5 points. Consider that in the race for governor literally every district moved to the right compared to 2020 — when Trump was on the ballot — and one simply has to conclude that Georgia Republicans hated Stacey Abrams so much that it drove turnout. Abrams is a great candidate, and I have to think it was her identity as a Black woman (and a lesbian) that elicited such strong opinions from Republicans, though I have heard murmurs that, for various reasons, she lost some Progressive support as well.
Meanwhile, Georgia will go to another Senate runoff next month, pitting Warnock against Walker. Notably, Brad Raffensperger took an almost identical margin of victory to Kemp’s in the state’s only other statewide race, which leads me to the somewhat optimistic view that even Republicans who hated Stacey Abrams couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hershel Walker. With Abrams absent from the ballot in December, and all the focus on the contrast between Warnock and Walker, Warnock should pick up the win.
This also means another month for women to come forward about how Herschel Walker paid for their abortions.
If Laxalt unseats Cortez Masto in Nevada, and assuming Mark Kelly holds on to win in Arizona, the Georgia runoff would determine control of the Senate, and that would change the dynamic substantially. It would also highlight what a supremely catastrophic and unqualified candidate Walker is. I still think Warnock would win, but my hope is clearly for both Kelly and Masto to hold on to their seats and hand the Democrats a two-vote majority.
Can we finally be done with Beto?
Beto O’Rourke was designed in a lab to appeal to liberals who loved The West Wing, who assume he must therefore appeal to everyone. All he’s done is suck up attention and political donations in three elections where other people actually had a chance at winning. In the months before this election I even heard Democrats talking about how he should be the nominee for President in 2024. Yes, Texas is a tough place for a Democrat, but Greg Abbot and Ted Cruz are also some of the worst candidates the Republicans could field, and Beto hasn’t even come close.
Certainly there are lessons worth learning from O’Rourke’s limited success, in particular his appeal to blue-collar Hispanic voters. But here’s hoping we can finally kick Beto out of the spotlight he’s held for much too long.