Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Not Joe

Journalist excited about the outcome of Senate elections tweets before thinking:

Individuals don't vote for or against members of the President's party because the President is doing a good or bad job. They vote in large measure because of a perception of whether the President is performing well- and whether the things are going well, especially when his party ostensibly controls both chambers of Congress.

As of the date of the congressional elections (November 8, 2022), approval of President Biden stood at 41%-42%, disapproval at 53%-55%.  (It has improved since then, but is still "underwater.")  

The right track-wrong track numbers are even more startling at first glance, although some voters believe the country is on the wrong track while nonetheless supporting the Chief Executive. A Morning Consult "right track- wrong direction" survey (updated 12/5/2022) found that only 30% of voters presently believe the nation is on the right track while 70% believe it's headed in the wrong direction. On November 5, as you would expect, the numbers were even worse, at 26%-74%.  Dropping gas prices can be quite the palliative.

So, no, Mr. Millhiser, something else is at play. In late November, The Washington Post reported that Ballotpedia

broke out key battleground races for 2022, contests that weren’t simply Trump rubber-stamping the likely Republican winner. In those, they estimate, Trump’s candidate won in only 14 of 37 general-election contests (though the results are incomplete, awaiting other election calls). That includes Oz’s loss in Pennsylvania.

Georgia is particularly instructive. As has been frequently noted, Herschel Walker ran significantly behind Brian Kemp, as the latter won his race to be re-elected as Georgia governor. Additionally, Kemp had won re-nomination by defeating by roughly 42 points the candidate, David Perdue, who had the endorsement of Trump. 

In most states, Trump's support aided the GOP candidate in the party primary.  However, most were bad candidates. Kari Lake appeared to be a very strong candidate and likely to win the election for governor of Arizona. However- and even though she opposed a weak Democratic candidate running a bad campaign- Lake came out on the losing end.

So Donald Trump contributed mightily to preventing the "red wave" some observers expected. Nonetheless, as Cook Political Report found (as of mid-November) that Republican House candidates in the nation as a whole won the popular vote "51.7 to 46.8 percent, a result that would normally translate into GOP gains of 20-30 seats." It argued "This time, candidate quality and the toxicity of former President Trump and the MAGA movement hurt certain Republicans where it mattered most."

That's not President Joe Biden- that's Donald J. Trump and unless voters perceive 23-24 months from now that Democrats have delivered the goods, the outcome likely will be much worse.



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