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How the hell did so many people miss this? To me it was obvious that the Red Wave was never going to come ashore in the 2022 midterm elections. It helped that I had been around long enough to have seen parts of the movie before. But so had a lot of “experts” who kept yapping away excitedly about the coming Red Wave almost since the day Joe Biden was sworn in. “Midterms are blowouts! Everyone knows that! Obama lost 63 seats!” It was all bullshit to me.
Sure Obama and the Democrats lost 63 House seats in 2010. But it was what I learned from that midterm blowout that gave me my first clue that the wave would never come in 2022.
The Republicans were poised to sweep the House and gain a Senate majority that year. They crushed it in the House and gained Senate seats, but why hadn’t that big Red Wave crashed ashore in Delaware and Nevada — the two seats the GOP needed to take the Senate majority?
How had they failed to win seats that in that big red wave year should not have been possible to lose?
Extremism and the crazy.
The Tea Party Express had successfully nominated some doozies in GOP primaries. Christine O’Donnell in Delaware had given an interview with Bill Maher, no less, talking about how she had dabbled in witchcraft. She even ran a now infamous ad on television proclaiming “I am not a witch!” O’Donnell lost the seat to Democrat Chris Coons. Did everyone forget this? Even in the present tense world am I the only one who remembers this crap?
In Nevada Susan Angle, another Tea Party Express darling, had a 50% to 39% lead in June of 2010 and got caught up in so much crazy stuff and controversy that she lost to Harry Reid 50.3% to 44.6%. A fricking 17 point swing compliments of the crazy.
The Senate Majority for the GOP didn’t happen in 2010. And you know what? In 2012 the crazy struck again! This time in a seat in Missouri that they should not have lost — and again with implications for 2022. Todd Akin, the GOP nominee in Missouri, did a TV interview in August of 2012 and stated that “a legitimate rape seldom leads to pregnancy.” Like WTF? Which is what a lot of Missourians thought when they returned Claire McCaskill to the Senate. And shocking news people! Analysts and experts attributed his fall to a “backlash among women voters.”
Any of this sounding familiar yet?
This isn’t high brow analysis, folks. The crazy and extremism will wreck a wave. Everyone should have seen this coming.
Hershel Walker, Mehmet Oz, Kari Lake, Doug Mastriano. By September of 2021 the crazies and extremists, the election deniers, and conspiracy theorists were coming out of the woodwork to run for Republican nominations across the country, and Donald Trump was picking them! The Tea Party had nothing on the craziness of MAGA! Before their nominations were over, a majority of Republican nominees were election deniers. In the 32 toss up House seats, the GOP nominated 27 election deniers. No way they were going to win them all.
But wait. I am getting ahead of myself here, and I hate that. I might miss explaining something important and there is plenty to explain.
So back in October of 2021, with Hershel Walker in the US Senate race from Georgia and Kari Lake running for Governor in Arizona, I started saying to anyone who would listen to me (and the few did were listening to me on my podcast) that if they keep doing the crazy and we keep doing the work, we would have a chance to win this thing. We could hold the Senate and even have a chance to hold the House. One person who was not only listening but came to the same conclusion on his own was Simon Rosenberg. On my October 2021 podcast of “That Trippi Show” (now proudly a part of the Resolute Square awesome family of podcasts), Simon gave his overview of data he was looking at that made him optimistic about November 2022. More than a year before the election!
This was not pie in the sky dreaming. Look, both parties are capable of nominating a few doozies every election year, but this was a breathtaking display of a party going off the rails nominating hundreds of them and in places where it was important.
But as Simon and I got to talking, nothing was adding up. From the get-go Fetterman in PA, Warnock in GA, Kelly in AZ, Ryan in OH, Barnes in WI, Cortez-Masto in NV, and even Beasley in NC were all competitive or ahead. In fact, as we entered the summer of 2022, not a single Republican was in the lead in any of the seven most important Senate races! They were all behind or in dead heats. And this was with Biden’s approval in the 30s! Inflation, gas prices, crime, and the border, oh my! How could that be possible? If the Red Wave was out there, these Democrats should all be six to 10 points down. Instead, they were ahead or even. None of this meant they all would win. But in a wave election these seats should not have been competitive. Still, the Red Wavers ignored this sign.
I said at the time that not only did we need the crazy to keep winning nominations, but that there were always externalities, things you could not plan on, world events that could turn everything against us or boost our chances. Then came the leak of the Dobbs decision and the Dobbs decision itself.
Simon, Tom Bonior of TargetSmart Insights, and others started to go over the reports of women suddenly outnumbering men by big margins in new voter registrations. But by the end of the campaign, according to the Red Wavers, abortion was no longer important to voters, inflation was, and that meant “Red Wave!”
It was like none of them had ever heard of cross pressure before. Quick explanation. Cross pressure in politics is when someone is holding two or more thoughts in their head at the same time and has to decide which one matters the most when they are actually casting their ballot. Like a woman who really is worried about inflation and may even blame Biden and the Democrats, but also is freaked by the extremism of the Dobbs decision. When asked what your number one concern is, she might say “inflation” but the extremism of MAGA and the Dobbs decision is also weighing on her ultimate decision. That’s cross pressure and there was a lot of it in this election. You can both be very worried about inflation and decide “yeah, but I can’t vote for that crazy.” That was clearly the cross-pressure in this election or Democrats would not have been competitive even with the class of strong candidates we nominated in most places.
The day I knew with growing confidence that our read was right was when Pat Ryan won the NY 19 special election for Congress over Republican Marc Molinaro in August of this year. In all five special elections for Congress held this year, the Democrat outperformed Joe Biden’s Democratic performance in the district. Didn’t mean we won all of them - we did not. But for example, if Biden lost to Trump in a district by 15 points and the Democrat for Congress this year lost the same place by only 7 points- well, that’s a good thing. Ryan outperformed Biden by a couple points in NY 19 and defeated Molinaro. And this was after the huge vote in Kansas where voters had come out strongly in support of abortion rights. In every real test in 2022 through the NY19 Special election, Democrats were surging above Biden’s numbers that had defeated Trump in 2020. Again, how could that be in a wave year when Biden was going to take us all down? They never asked. The Red Wavers just kept waving.
So, here is a kicker. When Ryan won NY19 by outperforming Joe Biden, there were and are 222 congressional districts in America that have better Democratic performance than NY 19. We had outperformed in five specials. There were 222 better than NY 19 where we won. Sure, we had to hold on to almost all of those 222, but a wave? Bullshit.
You had to be blind to all this, or taken in by the flood of fake red polls touting a revival of momentum and the growing size of the Red Wave to not see it.
But still there was help. Tom Bonior was giving twice-daily updates on the early votes. Real votes, not polls. Real data. That real data showed Democrats were taking a massive early vote lead. With each report Tom released, Simon and I, and others kept waiting for a drop-off. It never came. Simon was putting out data driven memos explaining all this and meticulously going over and amplifying Tom’s reports. The Red Wavers not only kept waving the Red Wave narrative higher - they attacked Simon and Tom for selling “hopium.”
Yeah, well, what were the Red Wavers selling? Crap takes.
One thing you should all know, I am a Democrat. But I pride myself on being clear-eyed in my analysis. When looking at the data and seeing things, I am not a partisan. I just want to give people an accurate view of what I see and, from my experience, what I believe will happen based on the facts in front of me.
So here goes. For four years, we suffered from the chaos of Trump. The country voted against the crazy in 2022 and for stability even while many were suffering from rising prices and having trouble making ends meet. It was not “it’s the economy, stupid” it was “it’s the crazy, stupid”. And believe it or not, they are going to keep doing the crazy. America is about to suffer a chaos Congress. The MAGA caucus runs things in the people’s House now. Donald Trump is running for President again. The crazy is coming, but America will kick its ass. The pro-democracy coalition is building to take them on at the ballot box and in the media. That’s why I am here. Join us.