Making Sense of the Election

Parsing the results thus far.

While we wait for the interminable counting of votes in Arizona and Nevada to tell us who controls the Senate and the sorting out of various races to tell us the Republican margin in the House, attempts to make sense of the contest go on.

Among the better ones I’ve encountered:

Frank Bruni, Jonathan V. Last, and Mallory McMorrow, “‘We May Have Reached the Limit of Crazy That Will Be Tolerated.’

It is, alas, not as hopeful as the headline suggests. In particular, Last is confident that, barring incapacitation or arrest, Trump will be the 2024 Republican nominee and be in a rematch against President Biden:

I’m actually bullish on Trump’s prospects. I would like nothing more than for him to go away and the Republican Party to revert to being the party of guys like Mike Pence and Brian Kemp, where you can argue about policy but don’t have to worry about a coup.

But Trump lost the 2020 election by seven million votes, and it didn’t hurt him at all with Republican voters. I am skeptical that a logical, “Hey, this guy is bad for the institution of the Republican Party” argument is going to sway them now.

[…]

As a wise woman once said, expect disappointment and you’ll never get disappointed. So I’m not ready to say that we’re on sturdy — or ever sturdier — legs. There are lots of things to be grateful for this morning. But democracy needs (at least) two healthy political parties in order to function. And as of this morning, I don’t think we can safely say that we’re back to that point. Remember: Many of these results are a matter of a few thousand votes here or there, and then we’d be having a different discussion. This wasn’t a broad repudiation of the illiberalism which got us here over the last seven years.

[…]

Why isn’t Brian Kemp the future of the Republican Party? He just won a big victory against a quality Democratic challenger in a key purple state. If the Republican Party was healthy, he’d be at the top of the list for 2024.

Eric Levitz, “David Shor’s (Premature) Autopsy of the 2022 Midterm Elections

Shor notes that Republicans turned out more voters than Democrats and yet did poorly, which he attributes to Independents going mostly blue and a much higher degree of ticket-splitting than normal. He debunks the notion that youth turnout was larger than usual, much less decisive.

This is particularly interesting:

It’s important to remember that the parties have agency. The electorate is substantially more educated, less white, and much more secular today than it was ten years ago. And yet, despite that, the Democrats got 52 percent of the vote in 2012 and 52.3 percent of the vote in 2020. And the reason for that is basically that the parties shifted their positioning. As the electorate moved to the left, Democrats did too. And the net effect ended up being the same.

Going back to Florida: Since 2000, the nonwhite share of that state’s electorate has almost doubled. I’m sure that the college-educated share has increased quite a bit, too. Yet Florida has gone from being a literally tied state to now being quite Republican. Demographics didn’t do that. Decisions made by each party did. So, moving forward, a lot depends on what Republicans and Democrats decide to do.

Nate Silver, “Candidate Quality Mattered.”

We could wind up with as many as five of the nine states where one party wins the governorship and the other wins the Senate race. It’s already happened in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It could happen in Nevada and Arizona depending how the remaining vote comes in. And it will also happen in Georgia if Democrat Raphael Warnock wins the Dec. 6 runoff after Republican Brian Kemp comfortably won the gubernatorial race.

And even in states where there weren’t split-ticket winners, there were still big gaps in candidate performance. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, won reelection by nearly 26 percentage points at the same time the GOP Senate candidate, J.D. Vance, won by just 6.2 In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman did well enough in the U.S. Senate race against Mehmet Oz, but Josh Shapiro nonetheless won by a much larger margin against Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial contest.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So many pundits were wrong before the election, I wonder why I should listen to them now?

    7
  2. drj says:

    Pundits gonna pundit:

    As the electorate moved to the left, Democrats did too. And the net effect ended up being the same.

    So when Demcorats move left (did they?), they lose votes. But if Republicans move right (much further than the Democrats moved left), they don’t?

    Somehow, it always ends up with the message that the Democrats must be more “centrist,” whatever that means.

    8
  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    In that article Last had a pertinent point, Tuesday’s result was just one of a few realistic results and small movements of votes could have resulted in a much different result. We should be careful and not overthink the results.

    That said, candidate quality absolutely made a difference. Dems, by and large ran experienced politicians whose ideology came closer to matching the district. At the end of the day, matching the candidate to the district is far more important in competitive districts than messaging.

    3
  4. charon says:

    I think what many people, pundits and others missed was:

    A) How strong the negative reaction to Dobbs would be and the effect on youth turnout and

    B) How strong the negative reaction would be to Trumpist lawlessness in general and specifically Trumpist threats to election integrity.

    4
  5. steve says:

    “B) How strong the negative reaction would be to Trumpist lawlessness in general and specifically Trumpist threats to election integrity.”

    It wasn’t actually that strong. Even where Dems unexpectedly won or are winning it was by small margins. The huge majority of Republicans weren’t bothered.

    Steve

    1
  6. Kylopod says:

    The polls were off. There’s no question about that. It was a mirror image of what we saw in 2016 and 2020, this time with the Dems outperforming their poll numbers.

    However, before the election, if you looked at the polls honestly, the signs were actually pretty ambiguous. Republicans were only slightly ahead in the averages for the generic ballot, with some pollsters giving the Dems a slight edge. Voter registration showed a huge surge in women voters. Dems had already outperformed polls in most of the post-Dobbs special elections, particularly the Alaska House race in August which was an absolute shocker (Sabato had rated the race “Safe Republican”) which too many pundits dismissed as a fluke.

    Most pundits ignored or dismissed those signs and just sort of assumed the Republicans would beat the polls as they did in some recent cycles. The momentum appeared to be on their side (this I admit was something that fooled me), and the so-called “fundamentals” (unpopular Democratic president, high inflation) seemed to give them an edge. Also, some polls indicated the post-Dobbs outrage was dissipating as voters became more concerned about the economy.

    What happened was in part a polling failure, but it was more a pundit failure (which is kind of similar to what happened in 2016, but in reverse). Pundits got caught up in a particular narrative that the data never clearly showed.

  7. Scott says:

    @charon: You know, I have one question that I don’t think has ever been explored, i.e., impact of parents on the voting actions of their children.

    I have three adult children (25-34). They have busy lives. When it comes to elections, I basically nag them to vote. Even May local elections. I make sure they register on time (because they move a lot). I wonder if certain elections seem important does my encouragement matter more? Do important elections push other older parents to do the same thing? I would be curious.

    Another thought that came to me is not so much Dobbs as being a driver for the youth vote but the LGBTQ bashing. I don’t know the statistics but I bet that anyone under 35 is completely comfortable with having gay friends and going to same sex weddings, etc. and are offended by the political bashing in the political sphere.

    3
  8. Lounsbury says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The weatherman on one channel was wrong so never listen to weather forcasts logic?
    That some pundits were wrong in forcasting is generally irrelevant to a data based post-facto analysis, except to the extent one questions the data quality.

    @drj: You lot clearly moved Left on cultural issues and
    The pouting reaction of “whatabout Johnny the Republican” is… well simply childish. The data show you achieving a certain vote share that did not budge despite changes in electorate composition by Democrats own theories of change should be benefitting with higher vote percentage. Analysis beyond Republicans Big EVil Cheater Meanies rather of utility if one has a pragmatic desire to improve performance (versus partisan purity pony goals).

    Somehow, it always ends up with the message that the Democrats must be more “centrist,” whatever that means.

    If the reality is simply that, well indeed that will be the message, whatever hand waiving excuse making Left wing partisans may engage in.

    The commentary dominant here utterly writing off – with disdain bordering on loathing – of the white working class electoral segment and focusing on the Lefty-cultural purer electoral groups (youth, non-white, educated) rather clearly caps off potential performance on wide swaths . As likely does the polittical fetishisation of ethnic categories (as Latine)…

    Of course data, data, data – so you know who you are actually selling to. As it appears Independents small swing votes won the day in a context of tight contests where small swings make difference.

    Some pundits have suggested that a large increase in youth turnout propelled the Democrats to victory. I take it you disagree?
    If you look at county-level data, the single strongest predictor of how much turnout dropped from 2018 to 2022 was the proportion of voters that were under the age of 35. In other words, turnout in America’s oldest counties surged while turnout in America’s youngest counties declined. It’s just hard to square the idea of a surge in youth turnout with administrative early-vote data, county-level data, and exit polling all showing that the electorate was substantially more Republican than in 2020

    @Sleeping Dog: Indeed a very pertinent point, knife edge results in which small purely random variations could change conclusions. Although this knife edge trend under scenario where core partisans on both sides heavily turn out rather indicates that swaying that narrowish fringe will frequently be tipping point to fall on one side or another.

    But

    At the end of the day, matching the candidate to the district is far more important in competitive districts than messaging.

    It is very odd to my reading to see this is posed as a dichotomy. Fundamentally the candidate is the product and therefore the foundation of the message. And a candidate matched to the district rather implies said candidate in such correspondence is a message and will promote if a good quality candidate a pitch that is aligned to and not out of phase with the specific market / district.

    2
  9. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Well, Alaska Republicans split their vote between Palin and Begich 26%-23%. And Kelly Tshibaka, an extreme right-winger, got more votes than Lisa Murkowski.

    But both races face run-offs, so who knows…

  10. Andy says:

    A common argument I’ve heard here and elsewhere is that there are no “independent” voters and that almost everyone is a reliable partisan who votes consistently for one side or the other and that partisan ID matters more than anything else.

    Considering the divergent outcomes, it seems this election has put a pretty big torpedo in that theory.

    It also puts a big hole in the “aggregate vote” theory that suggests that partisan House representation should reflect the aggregate sum of votes based solely on party ID. How do we know what is “representative” of partisan wishes when these divergences exist? We don’t – that’s because voters are not voting in a national contest, they are voting in many separate local contests.

    2
  11. drj says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The data show you achieving a certain vote share that did not budge despite changes in electorate composition

    Just a quick reminder: these were the most successful midterm elections for the party occupying the presidency in a generation or so. Despite the electoral map having become increasingly unrepresentative, I should add.

    It’s you lot (the ones who dislike crazy but also go looking for scary hippies underneath your beds every night) who maybe should move away a bit from your preconceived ideas.

    What you want is that the Democrats achieve legislative majorities by ignoring the demands of their core constituencies. Speaking of pipe dreams…

    8
  12. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    Well, Alaska Republicans split their vote between Palin and Begich 26%-23%.

    No. That’s a misconception based on not understanding how ranked choice works. There was a split in first choice between the two Republicans. It swung toward the Democrat only after Begich had been eliminated and second choices had been tabulated. And a lot of Begich voters either didn’t choose a second choice or chose Peltola.

    This suggests that Peltola would probably have beaten Palin in a standard single-choice election. The only question is whether Palin would have won a standard Republican primary against Begich.

    I do think if Palin had dropped out and endorsed Begich, he most likely would have won. But that has less to do with the Republican vote being “split” than with Palin being an unusually bad candidate for the Republicans.

    Stuff like this–a bad candidate leading a state to go against its typical partisan tendencies–happens from time to time. It’s what happened with Doug Jones’s victory in 2017, and with Scott Brown’s in 2010.

    Blaming the result on ranked choice is nothing more than an excuse. We knew it was ranked choice going in, we knew there were two Republicans and one Democrat. And yet almost no one saw the Democratic victory coming.

    5
  13. Kylopod says:

    @Andy:

    A common argument I’ve heard here and elsewhere is that there are no “independent” voters and that almost everyone is a reliable partisan who votes consistently for one side or the other and that partisan ID matters more than anything else.

    Nobody claims there are literally no true independent voters, in the sense of swing voters who might plausibly vote for either party in any election. It’s just that a majority of independents don’t fall in that category, and always vote reliably for one of the two parties.

    This isn’t an “argument,” it’s an objective fact supported by decades of research into the voting behavior of self-identifying indies.

    6
  14. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why you disagree with me. I know Alaska has ranked choice. And I think it’s quite possible that Begich could have won if not for Palin. And I noted that there will be a run-off in both cases, as is usual in many ranked choice races if no candidate gets over 50% of the vote.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @CSK: Another name for Ranked Choice is Instant Runoff. There won’t be a Georgia-style second contest in a few weeks; rather, the voters who chose candidates below the top 2 will be reallocated to their 2nd choice, if any.

  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Lounsbury: You know, man. Your actual points are interesting to me and worthwhile. Sometimes I just flat agree with you on substance.

    But you often throw in pejoratives such as “childish”. This adds nothing, and prevents me from otherwise agreeing with you publicly for fear that those other commenters might feel I’m endorsing your description of them as “childish”.

    It would make it much easier to publicly agree with you if you left that stuff out.

    7
  17. DK says:

    It appears transgender panic, banning black books and black history, attacking Disney, and whining about woke this and woke that aren’t kitchen table pocketbook issues. Despite all the push polls and dark money the Koch network, Koch network and McConnell spent to manipulate the press into brainlessly fearmongering about “inflation and crime” and wokeness, they couldn’t change the reality that the economy is strong, that American youth know being woke is a good thing, and that despite the very real housing crisis, American streets are still safer and more secure now than in most of our lifetimes.

    The same cannot be said for American democracy. Lo and behold, outside of Long Island and Florida there’s still wide swaths of voters who prioritize real threats to media-manufactured ones. Thank God.

    And it appears that despite election-to-election fluctuations and outlier regions, the Democratic share of the black and Hispanic vote is more or less unchanged since the 90s. So maybe we can finally kill the fake narrative about wokeness and “LatinX” creating some mass electoral alignment ethnic minorities. A narrative which was always absrud to anyone who actually knows people of color outside of Twitbook and Facegram.

    Also, it would be nice the establishment would stop gaslighting us about blatant and obvious price gouging. But that may be a bridge too far for the corporate media.

    7
  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    It is an interesting question to me as to whether the Florida Republicans, led by DeSantis, have actually “moved right”. Ok, I don’t like the “Don’t Say Gay” thing at all.

    But let’s remember the threats made to Disney. They were empty threats, meant to be rolled back after the election quietly. There’s no way they are gonna shift that bill on to the county.

    And yeah, they enacted a law outlawing abortion. After 15 weeks, though. That’s a moderated position, not an extremist one. And they did well in the election. What DeSantis and Co are up to is “look extreme, but govern moderately”. That’s what it seems like to me. And the voters in Florida are in a position to see how they govern, not just what makes national media.

    So, is this a case of R’s becoming more extreme, or moving left? On social issues, the inevitable drift is leftward, and I would expect that to have some impact on even Republicans. Especially on things like gay acceptance. Meanwhile, the really extreme candidates for the Rs appear to have been rejected by voters, often in states where voters split the ticket and voted for a more moderate R for governor.

    So I accept the thesis. I note that the liberal media bubble tends to portray the Republicans as ever marching rightward, I’m not sure that’s accurate so much as political activism.

    2
  19. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why you disagree with me.

    I was reacting to your statement that Alaskan Republicans “split their vote” between the two Republican candidates. I don’t believe that’s an accurate way of understanding what happened. Their first choice is not the totality of their vote; their second choices are also an essential part of their vote. They knew going in that their second choices might matter, and that influenced who they selected as first choice. The ones who chose Begich as first choice and Peltola as second would probably have picked Peltola over Palin in a traditional single-choice matchup between the two. Maybe it wasn’t what you intended to say and I misunderstood you, but attributing the outcome to a “split” between the Republican candidates helps further a narrative that it’s a spoiler situation, when in reality ranked-choice elections largely eliminate the spoiler effect. What really drove the outcome of this race wasn’t a split Republican electorate, it was Palin’s unpopularity.

    1
  20. gVOR08 says:

    Yesterday I asked why DeUseless did so well Tuesday. This morning Eugene Volokh asked the same question. I thought about it awhile and finally concluded there’s less to it than meets the eye. I commented at Volokh,

    I retired to SW FL four years ago. FL has low educational attainment, low income and GDP, and a lot of retirees. De Santis very effectively exploited COVID, immigration, and education issues. He maintains a dignified demeanor, doesn’t rage tweet, speaks like an educated person, and has never bragged about grabbing women.

    Long story short, FL is a southern state and DeSantis jumped in with both feet on the stuff that worked for Trump while avoiding Trump’s excesses. The difference between DeSantis’ and Abbott’s results in this election are likely the difference between Crist and O’Rourke. I don’t know how well DeSantis will play nationally.

    Hopefully you’ll bear with me on recycling a used comment. And had I written it here first I would have been a deal snarkier about DeUseless not giving a damn about COVID, immigration, or education except as political opportunities. Very Trumpesque.

  21. DK says:

    @Kylopod:

    What happened was in part a polling failure, but it was more a pundit failure (which is kind of similar to what happened in 2016, but in reverse). Pundits got caught up in a particular narrative that the data never clearly showed.

    One of the pundits’ problems is that they think people tell pollsters the truth, rather than saying what they think they’re supposed to say. If they could spend a few months with clinical psychologists listening to clients in therapy, they’d know better.

    Yeah, scary incidents occur, but you mostly feel safe walking around your city or suburb — much safer, in fact, than when your parents moved there in 1975. No one you know is threatened by any serious crime. And yeah the magic inflation (*cough* price gouging *cough*) had stretched your budget and you encounter more homeless people than you did before the bottom fell out with COVID, but you and everyone you know is gainfully employed, still making big electronic purchases, and spending on travel again. You’re doing fine, despite the noise from the neighborhood Karens on Next Door.

    Buf you spent the whole year listening to media caterwauling about “inflation and crime.” So when the pollster who’s called you asks you to pick from an issue list that includes inflation and crime, you tell this total stranger “inflation and crime.” Isn’t that what you’re supposed to say?

    4
  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Yes, there is a bit is it the chicken or the egg in my point. There will be a perception on a candidate based on what party he/she belongs to and that party will have statement of beliefs that are so broad, it is difficult to disagree. Any party candidate will agree, but how he/she chooses to present themselves is based on how they perceive that statement of beliefs will be received by the larger electorate.

    In the end, since candidates are chosen through the primary process, they are more likely to reflect the views of the more extreme members of their party rather than the districts electorate.

    1
  23. charon says:

    @steve:

    It wasn’t actually that strong.

    Au contraire. Where you had Trumpy and non-Trumpy in the same state, big difference. Look at Walker v. Kemp in GA for example. Lots of Trumpy Sec. of State candidates did much worse than other (R) in the same state.

    @Scott:

    Another thought that came to me is not so much Dobbs as being a driver for the youth vote but the LGBTQ bashing.

    Dobbs was a marker, a wake up call regarding social conservatism in general, so Dobbs was not just about women’s issues it was about LGBTQ in general, a pointer to where the GOP was going.

    4
  24. Scott says:

    @charon: I agree. I think another truism for Americans as a whole regardless of political ideology is that they resent someone (i.e., the government) mucking around in their lives and telling them what to do. So Dobbs, although limited to the right to abortion, also threatened to muck around in people’s private lives in areas of contraception, who they can marry, etc. The whole right to privacy. And that impacts everyone, left and right.

    3
  25. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Another name for Ranked Choice is Instant Runoff. There won’t be a Georgia-style second contest in a few weeks; rather, the voters who chose candidates below the top 2 will be reallocated to their 2nd choice, if any.

    Only if they turn out to vote again, which they might not – so not quite the same as ranked choice.

    The (D) are making a push to register/ turn out voters who turned 18 after Nov. 8, so Dec. 6 is effectively a whole new election/electorate.

    1
  26. Kylopod says:

    @DK:

    One of the pundits’ problems is that they think people tell pollsters the truth, rather than saying what they think they’re supposed to say. If they could spend a few months with clinical psychologists listening to clients in therapy, they’d know better.

    That depends what you mean. If you’re suggesting that people outright lie to pollsters–the hypothesis behind the Bradley Effect and the shy-Trump-voter hypothesis–I don’t think it holds up to scrutiny. I don’t think most people care what some stranger over the phone thinks of them over info that will remain anonymous, and I haven’t seen any conclusive evidence that this happens on a significant scale. There are much more plausible explanations for the failure of election polls.

    But if you’re talking about the way people lie to themselves, and report those conclusions to pollsters, then I totally agree. Polls that ask people why they vote a particular way are almost entirely worthless. Most people don’t have a clue why they make the decisions they do (and the motivations are often complex, anyway), and any explanation they offer is basically going to be what they want to believe about themselves, or what they want others to believe about them. They may not be consciously lying, it’s just that humans are not particularly good at probing their own motivations, and are highly prone to rationalization and self-deception.

  27. Kathy says:

    My sense is that perhaps America is not quite as effed up as the Cheeto’s 2016 election made it out to be.

    1
  28. James Joyner says:

    @charon: That’s simply not correct.

  29. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Please clarify, which part?

  30. KM says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    But let’s remember the threats made to Disney. They were empty threats, meant to be rolled back after the election quietly. There’s no way they are gonna shift that bill on to the county.

    And that’s not a sign of being extreme – the business friendly party actively picking a fight with the state’s largest employer/ revenue source to the point it has force of law? Cuz until it’s rolled back officially, it’s still happening. We’re assuming Reedy Creek will be saved but it’s entirely likely he’ll punish blue Orlando especially since they just elected a Gen Z POC social activist to the House. DeSantis can let it go to hell for a while and then tell Disney if they play ball, he let them reapply for a new special district under new terms. As long is it’s “fixed” before his run for POTUS in a few years, he’s not gonna care about the damage it will do since Chapek’s been willing to bend over for him.

    Empty threat or not, it’s still a line towards authoritarianism that shouldn’t have been crossed. It’s the GOP drifting towards the extremes as it flat out was the government punishing a private company for their political stances by revoking a long standing right/agreement. It might not be as extreme as insurrection but it’s the kind of willful disbelief that lets them keep doing it. A good way to test? If DeSantis had done that in 2016, 2008 or even 2001 would it have been considered extreme and damaging to the GOPs conservative image? At the height of War on Terror “Do as I say or you hate America” fever, that would have been pushing it for many. Now, yawns because “oh, it was supposed to be rolled back in secret and should be shortly. Any time now….”

    2
  31. James Joyner says:

    @charon: The votes have already been cast. Once all the first round votes are counted, the process simply continues until someone gets 50%+1.

    Round One:
    The Division counts all 1st choices. If a candidate gets 50% + 1 vote in round one, that candidate wins and the counting stops. If not, counting goes to Round Two.

    Round Two (and beyond):
    The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated. If you voted for that candidate, your vote goes to your next choice and you still have a say in who wins. If your first choice candidate was not eliminated, your vote stays with them. Votes are counted again.

    This keeps happening in rounds until two candidates are left and the one with the most votes wins.

    It’s confusing because the political press sucks. AP explains it this way:

    Tuesday’s vote was just round one. Additional rounds of counting won’t happen until Nov. 23.

    It makes it sounds like there’s another contest. There isn’t. It’s just a really weird way to do the counting. (That is: I support RCV over the current method, including traditional runoffs. But I don’t understand why it’s not literally “instant” rather than waiting weeks.)

  32. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08:

    Yesterday I asked why DeUseless did so well Tuesday.

    Because Charlie Crist did poorly?

    You can’t really separate the two, and given the number of elections Charlie Crist has lost statewide, the answer might just be “Loser Stink” rather than anything DeSantis related.

    2
  33. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    But what you just described is RCV. My point was that that is not what is being done in Georgia, my point was the Georgia process is different and in effect a whole new election (and, thus, not RCV).

  34. James Joyner says:

    @charon: Right. Georgia is having a traditional runoff, as in 2020. My comment was regarding Alaska.

  35. wr says:

    @charon: “The (D) are making a push to register/ turn out voters who turned 18 after Nov. 8, so Dec. 6 is effectively a whole new election/electorate.”

    I believe that you are talking about Georgia, where JJ is talking about Alaska. Which means you’re both right and you don’t disagree!

    1
  36. DK says:

    @Kylopod:

    …humans are not particularly good at probing their own motivations, and are highly prone to rationalization and self-deception.

    And media manipulation and herd mentality.

    I’m grateful that the increasingly durable Obama-Hillary-Biden coalition resisted the woke-whining inflation inflation inflation crime fearmongering groupthink. Praying they can keep it up through 2024 at least, through the next redistricting in 2030 even better.

    1
  37. charon says:

    He debunks the notion that youth turnout was larger than usual, much less decisive.

    Some pundits have suggested that a large increase in youth turnout propelled the Democrats to victory. I take it you disagree?
    If you look at county-level data, the single strongest predictor of how much turnout dropped from 2018 to 2022 was the proportion of voters that were under the age of 35. In other words, turnout in America’s oldest counties surged while turnout in America’s youngest counties declined. It’s just hard to square the idea of a surge in youth turnout with administrative early-vote data, county-level data, and exit polling all showing that the electorate was substantially more Republican than in 2020.

    This logic strikes me as flawed.

    Who to believe?

    https://circle.tufts.edu/2022-election-center

    We estimate that 27% of youth (ages 18-29) cast a ballot in 2022, making this the midterm election with the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades. We also estimate that youth turnout was even higher in some battleground states.

    After hovering around 20% turnout in midterm elections since the 1990s, young people shifted that trend in 2018 and largely maintained that trend in 2022, with more than a quarter of young people casting a ballot. Youth are increasing their electoral participation, leading movements, and making their voices heard on key issues that affect their communities.

  38. Just nutha says:

    @wr: Indeed! People talking past each other happens a lot here.

    2
  39. Andy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Nobody claims there are literally no true independent voters, in the sense of swing voters who might plausibly vote for either party in any election. It’s just that a majority of independents don’t fall in that category, and always vote reliably for one of the two parties.

    Sure, but the point is they don’t have to be a majority to be decisive in an election. They aren’t as politically irrelevant cowards as they’re often portrayed.

    @charon:

    We’ll have to see what the final numbers are. So far, it looks like turnout was historically high for a mid-term, second only to 2018 for all voters. It’s not surprising that youth voting would follow that pattern. I don’t think we yet know if the youth vote is high relative to other demographics.

    2
  40. Beth says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    You understand this better than most I assume, but you do realize that DeSantis’ hand picked medical board voted to forcibly detransition all Trans kids in the state. They did this without any regard to kids already receiving treatment. Kids will die because of this. They didn’t have to do it like that, they actively chose to.

    Don’t say gay is working. It’s made people scared. It’s taken away our history. If Queer people have no history, well, they’ve never existed and they are some new woke invention that they can ban. Its genocide. My guess that within a year it will be fully illegal to exist as Trans in FL. TN is already starting this. A Trans celebrity was arrested for being an idiot and placed in the male unit of the Jail. When she asked the judge to be moved, the judge told her to fuck off.

    FL is not safe for me or any queer people. I’ve cancelled all plans to go there. I’m too afraid. I desperately want to go dance till the sun comes up at Club Space in Miami. I’m not safe there.

    Regarding Reedy Creek, you’re making the assumption that now that DeSantis has more control he won’t make it worse. What does he have to lose now? He only gains by sticking it to Disney and Orlando.

    It’s terrifying.

    5
  41. Kylopod says:

    @Andy:

    Sure, but the point is they don’t have to be a majority to be decisive in an election. They aren’t as politically irrelevant cowards as they’re often portrayed.

    I’d have to see who specifically you’re responding to before I know whether we’re in agreement or disagreement on this point. I have observed that a lot of commentators use “independents” as a stand-in for what would better be described as swing voters. There are registered Dems and Republicans who in practice behave as swing voters. Also, there’s a common perception that indies are a bellwether in elections, and that isn’t always the case–Romney beat Obama among indies in 2012.

  42. charon says:

    @Andy:

    I don’t think we yet know if the youth vote is high relative to other demographics.

    We do, though, have a pretty good sense that it remains low relative to older age cohorts.

    Some admittedly preliminary numbers here say 2018 and 2022 had much higher youth voting than in previous midterm elections, they show figures going back a couple of decades.

    https://circle.tufts.edu/2022-election-center

    1
  43. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    ASU Campus vote tally…
    Katie Hobbs 8691 votes (96%)
    Kari Lake 368 votes (4%)
    Gen Z got up and voted.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy:

    Sure, but the point is they don’t have to be a majority to be decisive in an election. They aren’t as politically irrelevant cowards as they’re often portrayed.

    Certainly the few percent (1? 2? maybe 3?) that use different metrics than party are sometimes not cowardly and/or irrelevant (maybe most of the time, but I suspect not because that group doesn’t swing most districts/elections and are not likely to be concentrated by region). But I doubt that the conditions you are asserting apply to the whole 18 or so percent that identify as “independent.” Not even allowing for different cohorts affecting different elections in different years. Most appear to be simply partisans who decline to identify as such. Whether that represents cowardice is a fight for which I have no dog entered. (But in fact, I don’t recall “cowardice” as a modifier used often in our little corner of the blogosphere.)

  45. Gustopher says:

    Given the closeness of Nevada and Georgia, it’s entirely possible that the balance of the Senate will be decided by how many idiot Republicans didn’t get vaccinated for Covid.

    Just something to ponder.

    (Long term effects of Covid on various organs might speed up generational shifts in future elections too!)

    1
  46. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @gVOR08: Allow my recycled response:

    DeSantis won handily because the homegrown Florida DNC mafia doesn’t take kindly to outside help unless its to hand them a check to pilfer away and deliver nothing.

    The outside money and expertise have taken their dollars and expertise to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and the Midwest. They don’t need Florida.

    Oh, And the nomination of an old, tired, twice (now thrice) beaten Charlie Crist actually depressed Dem turnout. The numbers were waaayy off. Never forget: Florida Man is R AND D.

    2
  47. Lounsbury says:

    @drj: Mistaking loud activist voices as the desires of the constituencies as the intello Left likes to do (reference, the US riots and foolish response here) is not the same as paying attention to said constituency.

    My real world voting behaviour I am perfectly capable and have of voting in my election context for centre-Left, in re my own preconceived notions as it were. Personal versus looking at what I see as broader effects are different. Of course one can always be wrong and this is a mere blog comment…

    1
  48. Andy says:

    @charon:

    Thanks for the link.

    @Kylopod:

    and

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Over the years here, I’ve frequently heard derision aimed at independents and the general thesis that they are either just partisans who are too cowardly or arrogant to show their colors, or they are stupid/detached voters who don’t understand what’s going on. I would have to go back to determine who exactly has said this in the past, but I don’t think the who is important – it’s the idea.

    I remember these comments, though, because many of them have been ad hominems pointed at me personally for not 100% joining a team, and various insults I’ve received for daring to not vote party-line. I think it’s safe to say that there are a non-trivial number of regulars here who actually do believe that anything short of voting 100% for Democrats makes one morally compromised at best, and cavorting with literal Nazi’s at worst. This kind of rhetoric is annoying, but I don’t take it too seriously.

    But my main point is not to whine about the commentariat, it’s to point out that there are a non-trivial number of morally-compromized Nazi-adjacent voters out there that don’t vote party line. They were decisive in several important contests this year despite our calcified country. And they were decisive in a way that benefitted Democrats, which suggests maybe the simplistic narratives and moral absolutism of die-hard partisans aren’t entirely accurate.

    There is really no other way (that I’m aware of, at least) to explain the splits between, for example, Walker and Kemp, Shapiro and Fetterman, etc.

  49. Skookum says:

    My sense is that perhaps America is not quite as effed up as the Cheeto’s 2016 election made it out to be.

    We still in danger from extremism and authoritarianism, but it seems that some voters have decided to either step back from the brink or get off their duffs and vote.

  50. Skookum says:

    @Skookum: I don’t comment enough to remember the tricks for making posts. Sorry, Kathy, for not attributing this quote to you.

    But another observation about the youth vote. I am stunned by the anger at younger voters at the mess we’ve created for them–so angry that they either don’t vote or vote for third-party candidates. They must accept that as the Boomers die off, they are creating their future. Fingers crossed for the 2024 election.