Thursday, November 10, 2022

My Four Cents


Friends, I'm always thinking great thoughts, as you know, but seldom are you blessed with two of my classic ruminations -- nay, intellectual masterworks! -- in one day.  Today is such a day.  First, there's this week's Newsmaker Show, which focuses exclusively on the midterm election results and their ramifications.


Next, there's my latest article, which does the same thing, but a little more systematically.  Read and be amazed!  In a nutshell, I view this election as more of a draw than a win for either side.  Maybe you agree?


How the Red Wave Became a Pinkish Wavelet

Given that the midterms failed to generate the unambiguous Republican triumph that many conservatives expected, it is natural that we ask the question: why not? There appear to be numerous reasons, with the important caveat that Republicans did not fare so badly, and even our failures may have silver linings that will improve our prospects in 2024 – an election that will be far more determinative of our country's fate.

One number leaps out of the exit poll published by NBC News: 27% of voters defined abortion as the most important factor in their vote, and, by a modest margin, these voters favored the Democrats. By contrast, 31% cited inflation as their top concern, and only 11% cited crime. That is a shocking result, based on prior polling and Republicans' expectations. From this perspective, it appears that the Dems' big bet on abortion in their ad spending was not in vain, and the GOP effort to make crime a centerpiece of the 2022 election fell somewhat flat. Again, the pre-election polling mostly suggested it was the Dems who were barking up the wrong tree, but electoral realities do not always take shape in the way pollsters predict.

The Democrats and their media allies work 24/7 to make Republicans seem, not just “extreme”, but dangerous, unbalanced, seditious, and criminally violent. Based on exit polling, 68% of the voters believe that American democracy is “threatened”, but, on the other hand, those who said it is did not vote appreciably differently than those who said it is “secure”. In addition, overall the voters do not regard the Republicans as any more “extreme” than the Democrats (52% versus 51%, respectively). There is no evidence, therefore, that Democratic handwringing about January 6th moved a great many swing voters to choose to vote blue.

On the other hand, we cannot discount the possibility that, in a year in which Democrats had little else to enthuse them, dark fantasies about insurrections, fascism, and back-alley abortions may have driven many Democrats to the polls who would not otherwise have shown up. Elections are largely about rallying the base, and, since Biden is clearly incapable of doing so, the Democrats had to fall back on pure, blinding hatred of their political enemies. It appears to have worked.

Was Trump a major factor in 2022? He played an outsized role in helping Republicans to choose some of their most important candidates, and some of those candidates were demonstrably flawed. On the other hand, Republican underperformance was very broad-based and was observable in the many races in which Trump had little or no role. It is also worth observing that the 58% of voters who view Trump unfavorably is not appreciably higher than the 56% who feel the same way about President Biden. 47% of voters said Biden was not a factor in their decision. 54% said the same about Trump. It would be silly, therefore, to view the 2022 election as fundamentally yet another referendum on Donald Trump.

Of course, one thing an exit poll cannot capture is the profile of who did not vote, and why. Republicans, in the wake of these disappointing results, have to ask themselves whether their constant fretting about election integrity and outright fraud may have convinced a considerable number of like-minded Americans to give up on electoral politics, because they view it as futile and rigged. These sentiments are strong among Republicans and conservatives, and they represent a powerful threat to GOP prospects in 2024 and beyond.

To the extent that concerns about election integrity are legitimate, on the other hand, Republicans need to demonstrate progress – as they have at the state and local level – in improving the system, reducing opportunities for fraud, and catching and punishing fraudsters. By doing so, they can reassure Republican voters that, when they cast their ballots, their votes will be recorded, and they will not be submerged in a flood tide of phony ballots.

Whatever caused Republican underperformance in 2022, the fact is that Republicans won may important matchups. Ron DeSantis's political star continues to rise, and Republicans will almost certainly control the House, meaning that they can block the Biden Administration's legislative and budgetary agenda and hold the Democrats accountable by increasing the scrutiny on their misdeeds. Control of the Senate is still pending, but if the GOP can eke out a majority it will be much harder for the Dems to claim momentum coming out of the midterms – and, more importantly, Biden's transformation of the judiciary will move at a crawl, if it moves at all.

The best news for Republicans is that the Democrats' relief, verging on exaltation, about the 2022 results means that their great albatross, Joe Biden, is feeling more confident than ever that his party needs his singular leadership qualities in 2024 and beyond. This almost certainly presages a long battle in the Democratic Party to decide on their nominee in 2024, and to determine whether the party is currently too progressive, not progressive enough, or about right. The GOP can take comfort in the fact that the standard-bearer for the Democrats in 2024 may well be a fumbling octogenarian, or he/she/ze may end up being someone far to the left of Biden on many issues, and thus unelectable.

On the other hand, Republicans must heed their own warning signs. Even before the 2022 election was finished, Donald Trump had begun to direct criticism at Ron DeSantis, who he understandably perceives as a potential rival. That Trump intends to run again appears obvious. That many Republicans, especially in the leadership of the party, have grown weary of Trump and fear that he could lead them to abject defeat in 2024 is equally obvious. Whether DeSantis, or someone else, can best Trump in the primaries, however, is doubtful, given the immense leads that Trump has in virtually every poll of Republicans' preferences.

Whoever emerges as the GOP nominee in 2024, there is a strong possibility that they will be scarred by a long, vicious internecine battle that may damage the party fundamentally. Tens of millions of Republican voters are loyal and passionate Trumpers – and whether they would continue to vote in support of a party that spurned their idol is the $64,000 question that Republican Party leaders, and potential candidates like Ron DeSantis, now have to weigh. In other words, Republicans and conservatives need to ask themselves: can Trump win in 2024? And, if the answer is no, then the next question has to be: can anyone else on the Republican side win, absent Trump's blessing and enthusiastic support?

In the end, the results and ramifications of the 2022 election are mixed and ambiguous, and portend opportunities and challenges for both sides. As Churchill once quipped, having been informed of his stunning defeat in the 1945 parliamentary election as he emerged from his bath, “That's democracy... Hand me my towel.”

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.


You can also see it at World Net Daily: 


  1. Ray to Nick

    The fate of our Constitutional Republic does not depend on Trump, period. If he runs, and is nominated, and wins, it will be four more years of the same b.s. The American People had to deal with and endure in the past because of him.

    I'm not talking about his policies, but having to go through another four years of trying to impeach him (again) and so on, and so on. Nothing much gets done in a toxic atmosphere like that.

    DeSantis is the best candidate for 2024, at least for now. Yes, Trump knows how to run the country, or he gives the impression that he does, but DeSantis can run a state. This is especially important in the U.S. where the only thing that prevents a left or right wing dictatorship are the 50 states. REPEAT: In that regard, DeSantis has proved that he can run a state, and he will probably do an excellent job running the U.S. from The White House.

    Also, DeSantis knows when to keep his mouth shut, while Trump unfortunately does not. Can DeSantis hold the left in check? I believe he can, and I have confidence that his presidency will do a great deal to get us back from the brink of insanity, and move us forward in the right direction, with the emphasis on right in a cultural and political sense. I think he will be able to work well with governors, since he has "been there, done that".

    Trump needs to let go and retire to his estates. He can take that MAGA hat with him as a souvenir. Getting real tired of symbols (in this case a hat), which signify nothing much at all, and certainly not the grave reality of a country currently run by a bunch of damn fools.

  2. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Ray's observations about DeSantis's fitness to be President are highly plausible I think. Well this is a hectic time but it looks to me from the numbers I have seen that if Laxalt wins we have a 50% chance to take the Senate in a Georgia runoff. That's going to be a doozy and in some ways a national contest. Everybody will be jumping on that midnight train to Georgia.As for the House, I'd say we still have a 70% chance. More encouraging news: Lisa Murkowski is in a runoff with another Republican. It would be good to see that RINO Murkowski retired; her opponent is a Trump endorsee.

  3. Jack, I hate to rain on your parade, but Laxalt is unlikely to keep his lead, and as I understand it there is no runoff in Alaska. There's "ranked choice voting", which will almost certainly reelect the candidate who finished second (in this case), Lisa Murkowski. The fix is in.

    Ray, your lack of faith in the power of hats is a little disturbing. What else can we Americans count on, if not our hats??? But I agree that a successful governorship is in my ways the best preparation for a successful presidency. Four more years of Trump would be, in all likelihood, four more years of Trumpery. A DeSantis presidency could be, by contrast, more successful in a policy sense, and more successful in a political/popularity sense. A STRONG Republican president -- which in many ways Trump never was, given his vast constellation of enemies and detractors -- would be a game-changer.

  4. Dr.Waddy from Jack: I stand corrected. I'll have to look up "ranked choice voting"; I know nada about it.

  5. Dr.Waddy from Jack: It would of course be true of any GOP candidate but DeSantis will undoubtably have baggage by decision time in the next two years; the execrable leftist slime machine will make sure of that!

  6. Truer words were never spoken! DeSantis has already been savaged by the press (and has prospered despite their bile), but he's in for some real viciousness in the months ahead. I say that, but there may be one ray of hope for him: Trump could be his "decoy". DJT could take almost all the Dems' incoming fire, and they might fail to notice the threat that DeSantis poses, out of reflexive TDS?

  7. Dr.Waddy from Jack: Mebbe, mebbe!