(Courtesy of CQ Roll Call)

Reflecting on the midterm elections: Most voters got it right

Political pundits and others said the 2022 midterm elections could save or destroy democracy in America. Voters listened and saved the day.

Interesting week. The Nevada Senate win that came in Saturday night spoiled a lot of plans by Republicans and has put the questionable leadership of the party by Donal Trump in needed jeopardy.

I worked on several midterms as both a political operative for the party in the 1980s and as a staff member of Congress. In nearly all cases, the party that didn’t have the White House would pick up about 30 seats in the House and would take the leadership of the Senate as well.

Not this time. Many of us who wrote many commentaries for the media after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot began to warn voters that this midterm could be a do-or-die one for democracy and the Constitution.

None of us were sure if voters were listening. They were and then came out and rejected the election deniers who Trump put in place for leadership posts in swing states. Not one was elected.

Republicans are pointing angry fingers at Trump but he still plans to announce a new campaign to recapture the presidency in 2024. Or he may not, depending on how much heat is put on him by both the Republicans and the law enforcement agencies who are tightening their noose around his fraudulent, corrupt, and criminal actions as president and an outright attempt to reverse the results of a legal election.

Wrote Dan Balz of The Washington Post Saturday:

Trump saddled the party with weak candidates. With better candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, Republicans might have won control of the Senate. Instead, Democrats gained a seat in Pennsylvania and held both Arizona and Nevada. The victory in Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was projected as the winner on Saturday night, gives Democrats the 50 seats needed to maintain control (with Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote); a victory in the Georgia runoff next month would give them 51 seats.

Democrats also did well in state legislative races where it mattered most, holding all their legislative majorities while winning control of Republican chambers in a number of states. This too ran counter to midterm patterns. Democrats lost hundreds of legislative seats during the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014. This year, in Michigan, which conducted its legislative elections under fairer maps than the maps produced after the 2010 redistricting, Democrats captured both chambers. The same happened in Minnesota. In both states, Democrats now have full control of the government.

The House results remain the biggest surprise of the election, and they have caused much anguish inside the Republican Party. Even after Trump lost the White House in 2020, most GOP leaders concluded that they couldn’t win elections without his voters. That gave Trump the power to meddle in elections while drawing attention to himself as he falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. The Democrats branded Republicans as the MAGA (Make America Great Again) party. Republicans went along with Trump for the sheer sake of winning power. Now they may conclude they cannot win decisively as long as he is a dominant influence. The calls to move on are growing louder.

Still, the big story of this election is the damage Trump has done and the price Republicans have paid for not standing up to him sooner.

Longtime friend and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd adds:

An election storm brought the house down on the Mar-a-Lago warlock and devastated Republican hopes for a rout.

Republicans are blaming Donald Trump for anointing wacky candidates and then using campaign rallies to promote his upcoming presidential announcement. Republican lawmakers privately say those self-indulgent rallies cost them Senate and House seats because many normal Republicans and independents have had their fill of Trump and his crazy train.

The third time should be the charm. Since winning in 2016, Trump helped Republicans lose the House in 2018 and lose the White House and the Senate after the 2020 elections. Now he seems to have rescued Democrats from the traditional midterm shellacking — Republicans are barely within reach of a House majority and are watching their chance of controlling the Senate slip away. Trump has been poison for his party.

Polls showed that even many people unhappy with Joe Biden voted Democratic, a sign that Trump fatigue has finally set in. It’s so bad, the Murdoch empire has turned on its former fair-haired boy.

Writing for my national political news website, I added this:

Exit polls showed a majority of voters in most states and districts felt Trump was guilty of crimes, including fraud, obstruction of justice and sedition against the Constitution and America. Even Republicans in many areas said they saw too much dishonesty and immorality as valid reasons to deny him another term in office or to lead the party he has destroyed.

Many of us who cover and comment about politics, government, and elections asked voters to put the future of democracy and the threat against the American way of life ahead of the party, and exit polls show many voters did precisely that.

Democracy worked and voters saved the day.

The battle is far from over. A shocking number of MAGA mutants remain steadfastly loyal to the disgraced and disloyal (to America and democracy) Trump and they will continue to spread lies, discredited conspiracy theories, and actions that are, at the very least, sedition against this nation.

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