Early voting has begun in what might be one of the most contentious mid-term elections since the last one....and the one before that one...and the one before...I’ll stop there. In all honesty, this might be the most contentious mid-term election ever. It’s just where we are these days. Divided on so many fundamental issues that there seems to be no middle ground left to stand on.
So who wins and who loses? It all depends on what matters most to the most people. And that depends on who is voting. And it will look a lot different in “blue” states than in “red” states. Even within those colors, the voting will vary by county and region. Even Texas is starting to increasingly reflect shades of blue. Winning and losing in today’s divided nation comes down to the margins. Which side can control the House and Senate. In Presidential elections and close Senate races it can come down to a few key counties in a few key states that determine the outcome.
Both parties can rely on their solid cores. The Democrats traditionally struggle with turnout, but they’ve done a better job since Trump’s big upset win in 2016. The blue core is going to vote. The Republican core will always turn out. But demographics are working against them. Republicans must convert independents as well as members of traditional Democratic “identity” groups such as Latinos. Even some Blacks are starting to lean right, but for the most part they are going to vote Democrat.
So what moves the needle for those voters who are not “hardcore” in either camp? The Democrats are banking on Abortion rights and lingering anti-Trump sentiment to motivate independents to vote Democrat. Gun Control, Climate Change, Diversity-Equity-Inclusion issues are foundational to hardcore Democrats. But it’s Abortion and Anti-Trumpism that really matter at the margins.
Republicans must push the buttons on inflation, crime and kids while creating some distance from Trumpism. Border security tends to be more of a regional issue, important but not so much for the majority of independent voters. The number one pain point for most people is inflation. That should be a winner for the Republicans. Not because their hands are clean on the issue, but because the Democrats have really lost control of the economy.
Crime is a clear winner for Republicans. People are just fed up with the surge in criminal activity. The Democrats have earned their reputation for being soft on crime and it will be a major factor for independents.
And with kids, it’s about education vs indoctrination and a growing awareness that something is “off” in the way kids are being taught and what they are being taught. Parents of all races, ethnicity and religious backgrounds are pushing back on CRT and progressive gender/sexuality ideologies being taught to their children.
But, Republicans must not underestimate the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that essentially pushed the abortion issue back to the States. And with many Red States passing extremely restrictive abortion legislation, this has become a rallying point for women including many in the center who might otherwise be inclined to vote Republican.
And then there is Trumpism. Outside of his hardcore followers, one finds very little support for Trump even within the Republican party, much less among independents. At some point, Republican leadership must rip the band-aid off and be done with Trump once and for all. Even if it means the Trumpers start a third party movement and cripple the Republican party in the near term. A Republican Party that allows itself to remain hostage to Trumpism cannot survive.
In a two-party system both parties must remain viable. The Democrats are allowing far left Progressives to push them into a 30-40% support corner from which they can only win if there is no better alternative for moderate, middle of the road voters. Now the big question is which is the lesser of two evils? Far Left Progressivism or Far Right Trump Nationalism? If those are the only two options, The Left has the advantage. They are standing on the moral high ground of our postmodern secular culture when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, social justice for the “marginalized” and fighting against The Fascists (aka Trumpers).
These mid-term elections are likely to determine the direction of both parties for at least the next ten years. If there is a “Red Wave”, Trump will claim much of the credit. He will either be the Presidential candidate in 2024 or determine who will be. If the Democrats can find a viable candidate, they will win the White house.
However, if the Democrats were to do better than projected and the Republicans finally realize that Trump is more of a liability than an asset, it might trigger a major shift for the party. Two more years of Progressive policies and chaos would almost certainly open the door for sweeping changes in 2024. A more moderate, inclusive Republican Party would likely win the White House as well as seize control of both the House and the Senate.
We will soon see how this all plays out. It should be interesting, even if it's only more of the same.
“Politicians are like bad horsemen who are so preoccupied with staying in the saddle that they can’t bother about where they are going.” – Joseph Schumpeter