Brief midterm thoughts

Spent so much of today reading and talking about the midterm (and enjoying a non-politics night by watching hockey) that I didn’t have much time to write anything.  That said, here’s highlights from the notes I took for my election wrap-up talk today (plus a few additions)…


1) Democrats.  Not a red wave.  Red ripple.  Models say that if you have low 40’s president and economic problems, R’s should gain 40 house seats and multiple Senate seats.  Not so much.

2) Democracy!  4 of 5, and hopefully 5 of 5 2020 pivotal states rejected election deniers from Governor/Secretary of State positions.  We, hopefully, won’t have election deniers responsible for certifying elections in key 2024 states.  Also, all the folks in on Trump’s big lie (hundreds of R candidates) are so far conceding when they lose, e.g., Bo Hines, Maryland R governor candidate who was at “stop the steal”.

3) Pollsters: Mainstream public pollsters were really right about margins and close races.  (Interesting side note on recent R pollster polls).  Maybe there really is just a huge Trump-on-the-ballot effect.

4) Republicans.  Taking the House is no small thing!  Even if it is priced in.

5) Split-ticket voters.  Still exist.

6) Quality candidates.  Quality still matters.


1) The red wave

2) Media coverage that gets played like a fiddle by Republicans and R pollsters

3) Kevin McCarthy is going to have an insane job.

4) Immediate certainty about the Senate.  Big deal. If 51 R’s, what does Romney do on confirmations. [Had to squeeze the Senate into this framework somewhere]

5) Trump. His handpicked candidates probably lost the Senate.  DeSantis is killing it.  

6) Florida as a swing state.  We really need to understand as social scientists what has been happening there.



1) If you had said back in the winter that R candidate defeats D candidate by 4 points, in midterm year with D president, I would have said, yeah, sounds about right.  Both candidates were good candidates who ran good campaigns.  Don’t let people tell you otherwise.  These people are skilled politicians with skilled advisers and not stupid. 

2) Surprised Bo Hines lost.  I still think he was a good enough candidate, though.

3) SC court flip is a big deal

4) Republicans are 1 seat short in House short of a supermajority.  Big deal, could also be interesting.  Really interesting to see how R’s go on abortion.  If Republicans are smart, they’ll push a 15 week ban which will divide Democrats.  I think their base, though, will make them push for much greater restrictions which will lead to political backlash.


My teenage son asked me what to make of the election and I said I already had explained it all at the talk :-).  Two minutes later, though, I came across Eric Levitz’s election post-mortem and just emailed it to him.  It’s really, really good.  My favorite kind of article– a political writer/thinker I greatly respect comes, independently, to largely the same conclusions as me.  So, if you want to know what else I think, just read this

And because you know I almost always agree with Yglesias (though he was, admittedly, too skeptical), this is a really nice post-election take. 

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