Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Dems did well in Wisconsin, other swing states in 2022, because we knew the danger of voting GOP.

I had a long weekend vacation, and still coming back to normal after work of today. I'll get back to the econ news of the state and the budget debates that are going to be the main focus of state politics in the next 6 months (outside of the Supreme Court and North suburban Senate seat elections in April).

But I wanted to forward a substack post by Michael Podhorzer called "Red Wave, Blue Undertow". Podhorzer is a high-up researcher and political strategist for the the AFL-CIO, and co-founded Catalist, which is a great data source that digs into voter files to come up with more accurate information on elections, and why the results occured.

What Podhorzer brings up matches something I've felt in observing November's results. In places where the statewide power structure and Senate elections weren't much in doubt, Republicans did well, and Dem voters didn't turn out, which it helps to explain the gains they made in the House in states like California and New York, as well as in GOP-dominated/rigged states like Florida or even Texas.

But at the statewide level here in Wisconsin and other Swing States that had races for the US Senate and governor, it was a different story. These states were also the targets of Big Lie schemes, and plans for future election-rigging were in the cards if MAGA Republicans gained full control at the state level. And in Wisconsin and elsewhere, Podhorzer notes that Dems did as well or better than they did in other post-2016 elections.
On November 8th, that expected Red Wave washed away Democrats across the 35 states where there were no competitive, top of the ticket MAGA candidates on the ballot. But in the other 15 states there was a Blue Undertow, in which Democrats actually did as well as or better than they had in the 2018 Blue Wave election. In states where MAGA was competitive, Democrats now have four more seats in the House and four in the Senate than they did in 2018 with their Blue Wave gains. Yet, they have 25 fewer seats in the other states. In the MAGA Statewide Competitive states, turnout was exactly the same as it was when turnout records were broken in 2018. In the other states, turnout dropped 5 points....

I have long argued that because of the anti-MAGA majority, Democrats could weather the 2022 midterms to the extent that voters understood that the stakes were the same as they were in 2018 and 2020. As it turns out, in states that the Cook Report with Amy Walter, Crystal Ball, FiveThirtyEight and other handicappers classified as very competitive at the state level (Senate and/or governor), and in which at least one statewide candidate was identifiably MAGA (whether or not they were endorsed by Trump), 2022 was nearly a rerun of 2018 and 2020. In states where the political and media environment made the stakes less clear to voters, however, we saw the usual and expected midterm results [of "out-party" Republicans making gains]. 
And this outcome was especially true for Governors' elections, where the "MAGA Statewide" candidates had the largest threat to fair elections and in FUBARing states to the point that it might not be able to be repaired. Tony Evers tripled his margin of victory here in Wisconsin, and it was one of many big wins for Dems at the state level last November.
Thirty-five states have their gubernatorial races in the midterms. First, consider that in the MAGA Competitive States, Whitmer and Evers won by more than they did in the 2018 Blue Wave, Shapiro won by more than Wolf did, and Hobbs flipped a state Democrats lost in the Blue Wave. Nothing like this has happened in the 21st Century as far as I can tell. Now let’s look at it in terms of how well Biden did two years ago: in the MAGA Statewide Competitive states, Democrats did just as well as Biden did, while elsewhere Democratic gubernatorial candidates ran 10 points behind him.

The gubernatorial races also provide another illustration of the importance of context and the danger of quick generalizations. Let’s divide the gubernatorial states into three categories - Georgia, where Kemp won after rebuffing Trump; the four other contested Electoral College states; and the rest of the states with gubernatorial races. The differences are dramatic. In the four Electoral College contested states [which includes Wisconsin], all four Democrats did better than they did in the Blue Wave 2018 midterm by 1.3 points, while those in the other 31 states ran 4 points behind their 2018 margins.

Podhorzer notes there was a similar effect in Senate races, where Dem candidates outperformed Biden by 1.4% in MAGA Competitive states, but significantly underperformed Biden in the other states. Wisconsin bucked the trend in this one, as Mandela Barnes underperformed Biden by about 1.7% in his 1-point loss to Ron Johnson. I'll leave it up to you why that may have been (Johnson's incumbency/outside spending advantage? Bad Barnes campaign that didn't ID RoJo as the MAGA fool he is? Racism?).

What Podhorzer's information indicates to me is that the MAGA "stir up the rubes" strategy by GOPs only works in Swing States like Wisconsin when Dems and casual voters don't go after GOPs for the racism and regressive BS that MAGA-dom stands for. And Dems need to point out to voters that as long as GOPs in Congress and the Legislature allow MAGAs to run the show, continue to vote no differently than election-denying, conspiracy-hawking MAGAs, and let MAGA hate continue, then they ALL are MAGA, and there are no "good ones" that can claims to be different.

Dems need to be saying this today and every day between now and November 2024, which will "divide and conquer" the MAGA Party one way or the other. Either GOPs will be paralyzed in the House and be a toothless clown show (because the "good ones" split off), or all GOPs go down hard in contested states like Wisconsin in 2024, because the casual voter has had enough of their crap, and will be infuriated from the reckless behavior and unpopular legislation that MAGAts will (unsuccesfully) try to pull off in DC and at the Capitol in Madison.

Once again, here's the link to the Substack article, which includes these excerpts and a lot of other related data.

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