Midterm elections: wins and losses

It’s a Bobbery!

By Bobby Gronert

As many of you may have heard, thanks to the news, social media, or the healthy advertising budgets of Ron Johnson, Mandela Barnes, Tony Evers, and Tim Michels, we had an election recently.  Here’s a quick look at some of the winners and losers, and the possible effects we could see from these results:

Winner – Progressive and Socialist Candidates

While the left tends to get the blame when democrats don’t do well, that certainly can’t be said after this election.  Candidates like John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro won their statewide races in Pennsylvania, running with populist center-left economics at the core of their campaigns. In Nevada, where the state Democratic Party is controlled almost entirely by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) after party elections resulted in the election of a DSA Slate, incumbent Cortez-Masto was able to defeat her republican challenger. DSA itself had a good night, electing 16 candidates, three being incumbent house members. Among the 13 new electeds, two each come from state legislatures in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, and another two come from Milwaukee in the form of Ryan Clancy and Darrin Madison.  

Winner – Florida Republicans

Ron DeSantis’ expected presidential bid was definitely helped with strong results from Republicans in his state.  DeSantis himself turned Miami-Dade County Republican, winning it by 11 percentage points, an 18 point reversal from when Biden won the county by seven points. Florida Republicans also flipped four House seats, which will be key with a House likely to be won by slim margins.     

Winner – Left-Wing Ballot Measures

Americans tend to care more about candidates, especially for national offices, than we should, ignoring the importance of local officials and ballot measures. Granted, the importance of the latter varies from state to state, from California’s notorious endless lists of propositions to Milwaukee, where our two most important ballot measures both have no effect other than giving the winning side political capital. However, nation-wide we saw numerous ballot measures proposed or opposed by the left going their way, with Illinois passing a pro-collective bargaining measure by a large margin, multiple states enshrining abortion in their constitution, or, in the case of Kentucky and Montana defeating antiabortion measures, states legalizing recreational use of cannabis, states expanding Medicaid, and a few localities implementing rent control measures. These are all extremely important results, and should be a sign to pay more attention to votes other than elections.

Winner – Abortion and Gun Policy

While the most important issue to voters was understandably inflation (31%), abortion was not far behind (27%), and in a surprising result, tied for the third most important issue was gun policy (11%), outpacing immigration (10%) and on pace with crime (11%). Abortion hurt republicans more than expected, and we’ll have to see how far that momentum will carry democrats. It’ll be even more interesting to see how the GOP reacts, seeing as their pandering to the votes of Evangelical Christians has caused them to lose votes with the key demographic of affluent white women living in suburban areas, who otherwise might vote for republicans based off of their views on economic issues if not for social issues.

Loser – Republican Party

Republican failed to live up to high expectations, due to a number of factors, including abortion, a high youth-turnout and the failure of issues like crime and inflation to sway large swaths of voters. While they will control the House, it will be by slim margins, and they will not gain control of the Senate, where it’s even possible that democrats could widen their margin of victory.  

Loser – Democratic Party Establishment

The conservative and neoliberal wings of the Democratic Party took a bit of a beating this year. While the center-left Congressional Progressive Caucus managed to make gains, the conservative and centrist New Democrat Coalition lost six seats to the GOP, not counting seats lost in districts where members are retiring. The coalition’s members tend to be unpopular with young voters, so many of them did not get the benefit of young voter turnout. In even more embarrassing results, Sean Maloney, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, lost his seat, and he, along with the rest of the party leadership, face criticism for their strategy of funding more extreme Republican candidates in primaries, in the hope they will fare worse than their moderate counterparts would in general elections.

Loser – Donald Trump

Trump announced his decision to run for President again on November 15 in a speech with a triumphant tone, but it doesn’t look like he’s had many triumphs recently. A large number of election deniers failed to win election to various offices around the nation, and with Ron DeSantis becoming very popular within the GOP, especially after his decisive victory, a potential nomination contest between Trump and DeSantis will be fierce, and hard to win.

What to Look Out For:

With Republicans holding the House and Democrats holding the Senate, a lot of questions hang in the air waiting to be answered. The White House will be excited and nervous about the election results, with Joe Biden appointees now having a much easier road to being approved by the Senate, but as Biden turns 80 and watches Nancy Pelosi leave the role of Speaker/Minority Leader that she has occupied for so long, he might be looking at his approval rating and think about the taking the same course of action soon. The Democratic trend towards getting more votes from the suburbs and the richer voters in them, and less from the working class, continued, deepening divides between the leftist, socialist, pro-worker wing of the party and the moderate core of the party leadership and and old guard that is more supported by corporations and the country’s elite. A wide open 2024 primary for president is coming, with Biden and Harris being unlikely to run due to poor approval, Bernie being unlikely to run due to his increasing age, and other Democratic Senators or Governors having their own problems to take care of. Republicans have a lot of internal questions as well, concerning the divide that began in their party, with DeSantis primed to try to take Trump’s place. Passing legislation will be difficult, and a government shutdown could be on the horizon. Here in Wisconsin, Republicans will have 22 of the 33 seats in the State Senate, and the two-member caucus of Madison and Clancy in the State Legislature is all that keeps them from having a veto-proof majority, with republicans holding 64 of 99 seats.