Commentary

The only question now is just how bad the election results will be for Democrats

The only question now is just how bad the election results will be for Democrats
Election ballot boxPhoto: Nashville Election Commission

For a while in the summer, it looked like the Democrats caught a break.

Despite midterm elections generally favoring the party not holding the White House, Republicans were struggling on multiple fronts. For one, they had nominated a bunch of extraordinarily weak candidates who were struggling to connect with voters. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised a boatload of money, only to blow through it so quickly that it had to cancel ads in key states. And the Supreme Court provided a huge motivating factor for Democratic voters by overturning a woman’s right to choose.

Yet, in the final weeks of the campaign, Republicans have managed to turn the tide in their favor. Suddenly, candidates considered longshots are neck-and-neck with Democrats in the polls. That’s the case in Arizona, where Peter Thiel’s handpicked U.S. Senate candidate, Blake Masters, has long been lagging. However, recent polling shows Masters with a slight edge over incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly

In states where races shouldn’t even be close, Democrats are suddenly having to fight back against unlikely challengers. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) should be a shoo-in in heavily Democratic New York, but Republican nominee Lee Zeldin is making a surprisingly strong showing, even though Zeldin is an unabashed fan of Donald Trump. (He once nominated Jared Kushner for the Nobel Peace Prize.)

So what happened?

A combination of events conspired (to use a word that gladdens the hearts of the MAGA faithful) to help Republicans. Inflation continues to bedevil the economy, driving President Joe Biden’s approval rating down, and giving GOP candidates a handy cudgel with which to beat Democrats. (It doesn’t matter that Republicans don’t have any policy proposals to fight inflation.) 

Similarly, Republicans are using fear of crime to scare voters away from Democrats. Watching GOP attack ads would lead you to believe that Congressional Democrats are defunding the police and personally ferrying fentanyl-carrying drug deals across the Mexican border.

All of this, plus the spreading Big Lie of electoral malfeasance, has Republican voters raring to vote. Virtually every demographic of Republican voters is more enthusiastic about voting in the midterms than the Democrats. Meanwhile, groups that are key to Democratic success, including Black, Latino, and young voters, aren’t all that interested.

The upshot is that tomorrow is going to be bad for Democrats and for the LGBTQ community. The question is just how bad.

Republicans will very likely win control of the House. The only question is how wide will their margin be. They only have to win five seats to take control, and thanks to redistricting. But the Cook Political Report, a respected forecaster, puts 35 seats as tossups.

In the Senate, key races are so close that it’s impossible to tell just what will happen. Republicans could take control. Or Democrats could even pick up seats. It all hinges on a few key races.

Besides Arizona, it boils down to three. In Pennsylvania, Senate candidate John Fetterman is locked in a dead heat with New Jersey resident Mehmet Oz. In Georgia, GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker should be a frontrunner but his willingness to pay for a girlfriend’s abortion may be too much for Republican voters. In Nevada, anti-LGBTQ Republican Adam Laxalt is threatening to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

No matter how it all nets out, the election will be bad news. This year’s campaign season has shown just how far the GOP has moved toward authoritarianism and conspiracy-mongering. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is going to coast to re-election, setting him up as a leading presidential contender, and allowing him to take his hateful brew of anti-LGBTQ attacks national.

Candidates who were once considered fringe, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), will be leading contenders for spots on powerful House committees. The candidates who do lose will immediately parrot the Big Lie, insisting that the election was stolen from them, further eroding distrust in democracy.

In short, if you think 2022 was bad, just wait until 2024. It will make this year look mild in comparison.

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