How Did Democrats So Widely Outperform In Midterm Election?

As it stands today, we have the highest inflation in roughly 40 years, real wealth in the country has gone down more than any time since the early 1980’s, violent crime is rising, and the border crisis is the worst in history (by far) if you use the number of people crossing the border illegally as the measure. According to polls, 78% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track and 75% say the economy (inflation specifically or the economy, in general) is their biggest concern.

The President is a Democrat, and both the House and the Senate are controlled by Democrats.  Given the above, from strictly a political perspective, things could not be more perfectly positioned for Republicans going into yesterday’s midterm election. Combine that with the history that the President’s party almost always losses seats in midterm elections and that President Biden has the lowest approval ratings since Harry Truman and Republicans were set to make historic gains.

After the voting yesterday, there were more than 50 Senate and House elections that were so close that they were not decided on Election Day and, as of this writing, there are still 45 that do not yet have a winner. However, as of right now, Democrats have picked up 2 governorships and 1 Senate seat. The Republicans have so far picked up 7 House seats but the majority of the House races still to be decided have the Democrat with the most votes and so that total may decrease.

No matter how the final vote totals end up, the results are shocking. Republicans blew a layup, wiffed at a fastball down the middle of the plate and dropped a touchdown pass that hit them in their hands. Whatever metaphor you use, Democrats dramatically over-performed against even their own expectations.

So what happened?

Donald Trump. It really is that simple. Trump has a significant segment of hard core support among diehard Republicans. He was active in the Republican primaries, with his endorsement having one criteria—whether the candidate said that the election Trump lost was stolen and whether the candidate in question would publically and loudly support Trump and his claims.  And that was enough to get a lot of the candidates he backed the Republican nomination. But the general election is not the same and those who are not hard core GOP partisans….well, let’s just say that the large majority of them do not think highly of Trump nor of the wild claims his backers make and the childish, immature way in which they make them. So, though there were notable exceptions, the most ardent Trump backers lost in the midterm general election and that meant that a lot of Republicans went down to defeat even in times when very few think highly of President Biden (even in his own Party).

For those ‘true Trump believers’ who do not think that can be true, let’s just review the list of Republican governors that were on the ballot last night who also refused to say that Biden won their state in the last election:

Kari Lake, Arizona                            Too close to call but is trailing

Tim Michels, Wisconsin                 Lost

Tudor Dixon, Michigan                   Lost

Doug Mastrioano, Penn.               Lost

Darren Bailey, Illinois                      Lost

Dan Cox, Maryland                          Lost

Lee Zeldin, New York                     Lost

Trump’s biggest target in his own party was Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia, because Kemp refused to overturn the election in Georgia and so Trump went after him in the primary  When Kemp won the primary, Trump said Republicans should not vote for him. Kemp won re-election easily.

There were exceptions of course, like J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race. Vance got Trump’s endorsement and won the election yesterday. However, it is clear that Trump decided he wanted to control the Republican Party even if that meant nominating extremist candidates who could not get elected.  And so that is exactly what happened.

Democrats had an historic night, defying big odds and almost all predictions. They can thank the former Republican President.

Thinking Man predicated early in Trump’s presidency that he would destroy the Republican Party, for several reasons that have become somewhat self-evident. It is not playing out exactly like was thought it would but the end result is exactly the same and this is not the first, but is the most evident crack in the foundation. The only really surprising thing to this commentator is how many Republicans seem to be ok with that.

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