President Biden had it right when he said that democracy won Tuesday’s elections. The pundits, pollsters and press had it wrong when they say Democrats won the election.
First published: Nov 2022.
Clearly, Democrats won the expectations game because they did way better than those same pundits, pollsters and press said they would. Still, the Democrats definitely have lost their majority in the House.
If that’s winning politically, give me losing.
What the pundits, pollsters and press got wrong was dealing with abortion as if the immediate aftermath of protests when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade had gone away. Talking heads kept saying in the last couple of weeks of campaigning that inflation was the top issue voters were concerned about and the GOP had the advantage on that turf. Women’s right to control their own bodies was always a not-that-distant second.
Plus, this election proved – again – that American voters can chew gum and walk at the same time. Yes, they hate the inflation everyone around the world is facing right now. Gas, food, pretty much everything is way up in cost plus that supply chain hasn’t caught up with demand yet. We’d be crazy not to be worried about inflation. And, we’d be nuts not to worry about the Supreme Court taking back rights Americans have.
After almost every election, but especially this one, the media need to rethink not only how they cover lies splattered all over the place mostly by MAGA Republicans but how they report on polls and who’s up and who’s down.
Network exit polls showed that almost 3 in 10 voters nationally said abortion was the most important issue in their vote, and that about 4 in 10 said they were “angry” Roe was overturned. Motivated voters, for sure.
There were winners and losers, of course, Tuesday from a 10,000-foot perspective. My view:
Clearly, our democracy is more resilient than it gets credit for, as the president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks said. The “guard rails” protected the country through the Trump presidency and did again Tuesday. Those founders were onto something, eh?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
DeSantis is a winner because political talk immediately began focusing positively on him as the leading GOP candidate in 2024 because of Trump losing (more in a moment). The other side of being the front-runner to defeat Trump for the presidential nomination is he gets more attention. His weaknesses and any skeletons in his closet will be tastier snacking for reporters. Plus, maybe those (predominantly) retirees and Trumpers living in the Villages¹ and other areas are happy with their governor. Just as clearly Gen Zers² are unhappy and voted Democrat. (Politics is demographics, as my wife tells me)
The USA’s worldwide reputation
Winner because this should cool, a bit, our allies’ concerns about our democracy and the threat posed to it by some within our borders. Our leaders can be more confident in meetings around the world now.
Biden is more not-a-loser as much as a winner. He and his team now get credit for focusing on the threats to democracy and the strategy to keep him out of states he was most unpopular in. Result? More Democrats won than expected. And his speech(es) on democracy and the threat it faces were spot-on.
While he will crow about being a winner – because he will blame others talking him into backing certain losers and because he likely has a more than impressive overall win count Tuesday – any normal observer would say he at minimum got hit with an inside pitch to back him away from the plate. His won/lost record of endorsements will be fine because he mostly backed candidates in safe places. But he lost in most all his high-profile races. Should Herschel Walker wind up winning in Georgia, Trump will be back on a victory tour. Meantime those investigations into Trump by some states and the Justice Department now will be more tempting fodder to his Republican opponents to explain why he’s the wrong candidate in 2024. Notably, certain Trump loyalists were giving reporters excellent quotes on- the-record, showing Trump’s image is sullied more politically and that it’s safer than it was Monday to criticize him. Plus, Twitter is unavailable to him and its spotlight is fading.
They now are the Joe Manchin³ of the GOP. Their minority of votes can control what Speaker-in-Waiting Kevin McCarthy can achieve.
McCarthy, who has been craven to be Speaker of the House seemingly since birth, is on the doorstep of officially achieving that goal. Problem is, he now has to do that job. That will be made tricky by those pesky House conservatives and Trump, who will now have McCarthy as their whipping boy. He’ll be challenged to put together his caucus’ votes and to fight off the desire by a minority of Republican members to impeach Biden⁴ or anyone who has come into contact with him.
If Tuesday’s elections lead us back to some sense of normalcy, as voters seemed to be screaming, you and I are the actual winners of the election, as we should be.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
- Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 10 November 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Unsplash/Dyana Wing So. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)