November 9, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 6:01 PM


Competence, Not Chaos: The midterm results point to major underlying issues for the Republican Party and the nation. (Fred Bauer, November 9, 2022, City Journal)

The gubernatorial races have more disheartening tidings for Republicans. Republicans were locked out of the governor's mansion in key swing states Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In Maryland and Massachusetts, governorships formerly held by Republicans were lost to Democrats in blowout margins. Arizona remains too close to call, as does Oregon (a seat that had seemed a possible Republican pick-up).

An incumbent Democratic president with an approval rating in the 40s, raging inflation, a mixed economic picture, and growing voter concerns about crime--how did it come to this for the GOP? Many structural factors suggested that 2022 would be a "wave" year, but Republican candidates were instead often stranded. Tuesday's results point to major underlying issues for the Republican Party, and the nation as a whole.

If this was a wave election, it might be considered a "normie" wave election. After a pandemic, widespread economic disruption, and years of hyper-polarized conflict in D.C., voters often rewarded candidates with political experience and a record of governing. Joe Biden in part won the White House by promising a return to "normalcy," and if "normalcy" didn't quite arrive by 2022, signs suggest that voters are still looking for it. Many Republican candidates were far from optimal from that perspective. In a number of GOP primaries, Donald Trump intervened to back candidates with whom he had a close personal relationship or who were willing to join in his campaign to delegitimize the 2020 election. Many of these candidates--from Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania to Tudor Dixon in Michigan--ended up washing out.

Gubernatorial races often exerted a significant gravitational force on other elections. Having held almost the entirety of Ohio's political offices, Governor Mike DeWine embodies the "normie" Republican, and he won a smashing reelection victory--which probably helped boost political newcomer J. D. Vance in the Senate race. Georgia governor Brian Kemp defied Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State and crushed a Trump-backed primary challenge. With a record of governing and opposing election nullification, Kemp beat Democratic Party favorite Stacey Abrams by eight points--significantly outperforming Senate nominee (and political newcomer) Herschel Walker.

Conversely, toxic or lackluster gubernatorial candidates likely inflicted pain elsewhere on the ticket. In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano won Trump's endorsement, but he repelled many Pennsylvanians. His 13-point loss was a millstone around the neck of Senate candidate Mehmet Oz (who did five points better than Mastriano, but not good enough to win). Tudor Dixon's ten-point loss to incumbent Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer was accompanied by a bloodbath down the ticket. Republicans lost races for secretary of state and attorney general there, and Democrats may enjoy their first trifecta in the Michigan statehouse in 40 years.

Tuesday's results show how many voters are turned off by candidates who try to delegitimize past elections. For years, Stacey Abrams discounted the legitimacy of the 2018 election she lost by a razor-thin margin--and Brian Kemp won his rematch against her handily. Kemp and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger burnished their images as responsible holders of power by defending the results of the 2020 election. Fortunately for American democracy, swing voters (the ones candidates need to win elections) do not reward conspiracy theories that aim to nullify elections.

Posted by orrinj at 5:57 PM


The Message of the Midterms (Yuval Levin, Nov. 9th, 2022, National Review)

When the parties don't go out of their way to repel voters, they can win decent majorities. The reason such majorities have become rare is that both parties have worked hard to become repulsive to the median voter.

This is probably a bigger problem for the Democrats in the long run, because they face the challenge of becoming the party of an intensely unpopular elite in a populist time. Swing voters don't like much of what the Democrats increasingly stand for, and that won't be easy for the party to change.

For Republicans, it should be clearer than ever that they have trouble reaching potentially winnable swing voters because of the unhinged appearance and revolting character of the party's Trump-era incarnation. It is easier to see how that could change, though that does not mean such change will be easy to pull off.

The pattern of Republican wins and losses on Tuesday was not random, and its message is not hard to discern. It presents itself as a blinking, blaring, screaming sign that reads "Republicans: Trump is your problem." In Georgia and in Ohio, Republican candidates for governor who were not closely associated with Trump ran far ahead of Republican candidates for Senate who were. Many voters were clearly willing to split their tickets. It is painfully evident that Republicans would have had a far easier time winning Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, New Hampshire and elsewhere if they had not chosen the Trump-endorsed candidate in the primary.

The relatively disappointing result for Republicans has a clear cause, and maybe it will finally move Republicans to abandon the ridiculous notion that Donald Trump is an electoral advantage for the party. Sustaining that view has always required painful contortions -- the (implausible) view that Trump's exceedingly narrow win over Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the only way any Republican could have beaten the most unpopular political figure in 21st-century America; the (bizarre) notion that Republican setbacks in 2018 were a function of Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan not being Trumpy enough; the (delusional) claim that Trump didn't actually lose the presidency in 2020.

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 PM


Hasidic rabbi assails Trumpism rampant among the Orthodox (Jacob Kornbluh, November 9, 2022, The Forward)

An influential Hasidic rabbi from New York issued a harsh rebuke the day after Election Day of the Trumpism that has overtaken much of the Orthodox community. 

"Trumpism became entangled in the Jewish camp," Rabbi Aaron Teitlebaum, the grand rebbe of one the Satmar Hasidic sects, said in a speech Wednesday at his yeshiva in Kiryas Joel, north of New York City. "This Trumpism twisted the minds of so many yiden. It brainwashed people - and that's so painful," he said, using the Yiddish word for Jews. 

He alluded to many Orthodox groups' backing of Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, who lambasted the state Board of Regents' vote last month to strengthen oversight of secular studies at Orthodox schools. And Teitelbaum critiqued Orthodox voters' reverence for former President Donald Trump, who exhorted voters to "punish" Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul, who beat Zeldin in a close race on Tuesday. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:41 PM


Trumped at the Polls: Despite Joe Biden's deep unpopularity, GOP gubernatorial candidates backed by the former president struggled in yesterday's election. (Steven Malanga, November 9, 2022, City Journal)

The midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, where Republicans made big gains in Washington, were also accompanied by a GOP wave in the states that lasted nearly a decade. Boosted by those midterms, the party over the course of several elections won more than 900 local legislative seats, occupied 33 governor's mansions, and boasted 26 state "trifectas"--that is, complete political control over a state government.

With a deeply unpopular Democratic president in office, inflation raging, and high crime resonating in many areas, Republicans seemed poised to ride another state red wave this year. Instead, they have struggled merely to retain currently held governorships, losing several in the process. What was different this year? Polls suggest it was Donald Trump. The ex-president, who has remained a significant player in local elections, didn't just spit fire at Democrats in 2022. He also feuded with Republican state leaders in some places, took shots at potential competitors within the party, including Florida governor Ron DeSantis, and played a massive role in helping MAGA candidates win state GOP primaries. But Trump, exit polls show, is deeply unpopular with many voters--even more so than President Biden. In some states, candidates he endorsed could muster little support beyond voters who say that they back Trump, too. It wasn't enough to unleash a red wave.

In the previous GOP waves, moderate Republican gubernatorial candidates were able to flip several deep-blue states, including Larry Hogan in Maryland and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts in 2014. Both governors managed the task of governing in a blue state well enough to coast to reelection in 2018. But Hogan was term-limited this year, and Baker, facing the likelihood of a tough challenge from a Trump-backed candidate in the state GOP primary, declined to run again. Trump supporters won both state Republican primaries, including a victory in Maryland by state delegate Dan Cox, who was aided by millions of dollars in ads run by the Democratic Party, which preferred him as an opponent over former state secretary of commerce Kelly Schulz, endorsed by Hogan. The cynical strategy paid dividends. Cox managed less than four in ten votes in Maryland, a sharp turnaround from the 55 percent of votes Hogan won in 2018. Trump's favored Massachusetts candidate, state delegate Geoff Diehl, fared worse, managing just 35 percent of the vote against Democrat Maura Healey. Baker, by contrast, won reelection in 2018 with 66 percent of the vote. As the Boston Globe observed, Healey likely wouldn't even have run if she had to face the popular Baker in a general election. Trump helped ensure that didn't happen.

To offset these potential losses, Republicans had an opportunity to flip Democratic governorships in several states that lean Republican. Both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for instance, have GOP-controlled legislatures but Democratic governors. Both states went narrowly for Biden in 2020, but exit polls from the 2022 midterms show that the president is deeply unpopular there today. In Pennsylvania, 53 percent of those who voted on Tuesday disapproved of the job he is doing. In Wisconsin, the number was 54 percent.

But Trump shook up those races by endorsing candidates backing his agenda, including Pennsylvania state senator Doug Mastriano, who supported efforts to decertify the 2020 election. 

It's America: hating the other is not winning politics.

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 PM


The study of evolution is fracturing - and that may be a good thing (Erik Svensson, 11/09/22, The Conversation)

Charles Darwin's theories might be over 150 years old but major questions about how evolution works are far from settled.

Evolutionary biology is now undergoing one of the most intense debates it has had for more than a generation. And how this debate plays out could have a significant impact on the future of this scientific field.

Some biologists and philosophers claim that evolutionary biology needs reform, arguing that traditional explanations for how organisms change through time that scientists have assumed since the 1930s are holding back the assimilation of novel findings

Contemporary evolutionary biology, a vocal minority argue, is incomplete. The dominant and traditional view of the field is too preoccupied with how the genes in a population change over time. This neglects, these critics argue, how individual organisms shape their environments and adjust themselves during their lifetimes to survive and reproduce.

Some go so far as to say that evolutionary theory itself is in crisis and must be replaced with something new.

The paradigm shifts.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GOP Rep. Mayra Flores Fumes 'RED WAVE Did Not Happen' After She Loses (Matt Wilstein, Nov. 09, 2022, Daily Beast)

Less than five months after she was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives after winning a special election to flip Texas' 34th district, Republican Rep. Mayra Flores lost her seat to Democrat Vicente Gonzalez Tuesday night. 

America doesn't seem that into Q.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump's favorite candidates disappoint on Election Day, raising questions about his 2024 pitch (Christina Wilkie, 11/09/22, CNBC)

Earlier in the day, Trump had released a four-page press advisory detailing how much he had done to help Republicans up and down the ballot.

The list ranged from endorsements Trump issued on behalf of obscure secretary of state candidates, to the hundreds of millions of dollars he helped raise for Republicans mounting high profile Senate campaigns. At huge rallies over the weekend, Trump read off a list of Republican candidates while honing a speech that sounded like his own 2024 presidential campaign stump speech.

The message was clear: Trump was the leader of the Republican Party, and the party would have Trump to thank for its expected victories on Election Day. The former president implicitly put himself on the ballot in recent weeks as he campaigned with 2022 candidates -- and all but acknowledged he held back on a 2024 campaign launch he hoped to jumpstart before the midterms.

But as returns began to come in Tuesday evening, the Republican rout driven by Trump's chosen candidates never materialized.

In one of the country's most high-profile races, Trump's handpicked Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Dr. Mehmet Oz, lost to Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, according to NBC News. The result cost the GOP a Senate seat.

In Michigan, Trump-endorsed Republican Tudor Dixon lost a gubernatorial race, while 2020 election denier Kristina Karamo lost her Trump-backed bid for secretary of state, NBC projected.

In Arizona, Kari Lake, a former newscaster turned gubernatorial candidate who is one of Trump's most high-profile proteges, trailed Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs early Wednesday morning in a race that NBC considered too early to call. Trump-endorsed Senate hopeful Blake Masters, who is challenging Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, also lagged in a race that NBC said was too early to call.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Fetterman flips Pennsylvania Senate seat in victory over Oz (Axios, 11/09/22)

Democrat John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, flipping a key seat previously held by a Republican, the Associated Press reported.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The red wave that wasn't: 5 takeaways from a disappointing night for the GOP (DAVID SIDERS, 11/09/2022, Politico)

Truth is, if not for the former president's interventions, the night could have been a lot better for the GOP.

Just look at how the most Trump-y candidates fared in states where more traditionalist Republicans were on the same ballot.

In Georgia, Herschel Walker was locked in a neck-and-neck contest with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Gov. Brian Kemp, whose resistance to overturning the 2020 results infuriated Trump, easily defeated his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams.

In New Hampshire, Republican Don Bolduc lost to Sen. Maggie Hassan in a race that didn't even look close, while Gov. Chris Sununu, who once referred to Trump as "fucking crazy," cruised to reelection. Trump's preferred candidate in Ohio, J.D. Vance, did better, beating Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by a comfortable margin in that state's U.S. Senate race. But he came nowhere close to the margin that incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, a more traditionalist Republican, put up.

In Arizona, it was still early, with only about half of the expected vote in. But Kari Lake was running behind Katie Hobbs. Even if she comes back to win, it will be a closer race than political professionals of both parties had predicted had a more traditionalist Republican, Karrin Taylor Robson, made it through.

"I mean, come on," said Chuck Coughlin, a veteran Republican strategist based in Phoenix. "This should be a walk in the park for Republicans ... If Karrin Taylor Robson was the [gubernatorial] nominee, it would be an ass-kicking this cycle. But we just have such poor candidates who don't appeal to a broader base."

Besides, Coughlin said, "This is a non-presidential cycle, which tilts against the White House, tilts against the party in power. That's not going to be the case in a presidential cycle. [Trump] doesn't have that wind at his back anymore."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


It's the Energy System, Stupid (VANESSA NAKATE and  RACHEL KYTE, 11/08/22, Project Syndicate)

Fossil-fuel prices are inherently volatile, and it is vulnerable communities that suffer most from wild fluctuations in global hydrocarbon markets. In the United Kingdom, this year's spike in gas prices has led to an 80% increase in projected household energy bills. In the coming months, many lower-income families will be forced to choose between heating and eating. Meanwhile, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, and Shell raked in profits of $59 billion just in the second quarter of this year.

Worse, the pain that many are already feeling this year pales in comparison to what awaits us if we continue to burn fossil fuels. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that if we want to avoid catastrophic warming scenarios, we cannot build any new fossil-fuel infrastructure, and we must rapidly phase out the fossil fuels that we are already using. Similarly, in 2021, the head of the International Energy Agency declared that, "If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas, and coal, from now - from this year."

It would be madness to think that the current congeries of global crises can be solved with our current energy systems. More investments in fossil-fuel infrastructure and exploration will result in more pain and uncertainty for households, greater concentrations of profits and wealth, and unlivable climatic conditions for billions of people. But that's what we're getting: The OECD and the IEA report that government fossil-fuel subsidies around the world almost doubled in 2021, reaching $697 billion.

If we want reliable, clean, affordable energy for all, the quickest and most effective solution is to increase investment in renewables, energy efficiency, and integrated power grids. Electricity from solar and wind is now cheaper than electricity from gas, and the prices don't undergo dangerous fluctuations. In the UK, where successive governments have failed to lead on building renewable-energy capacity, homeowners are taking it upon themselves to install solar panels, because they know that the investment will pay for itself in lower energy bills.

Renewables are also a faster and cheaper way to expand energy access in rural Africa. Because they can be located closer to the point of consumption, they have been found to be more economically viable than building transmission lines from centralized gas-fueled power stations.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan wins 2nd Senate term (HOLLY RAMER, 11/09/22, AP)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan won a second term representing New Hampshire on Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Don Bolduc to keep a seat once viewed as ripe for a GOP pickup.

Hassan, a former governor, had been considered vulnerable given her narrow win in 2016. But her odds improved after popular Gov. Chris Sununu took a pass at challenging her, and Republicans nominated Bolduc, a retired Army general who has espoused conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 2020 presidential election.

The GOP candidates for Federal office were so extreme even Governor Sununu couldn't carry them.  Indeed, they appear to have dragged everyone down.

NHDems Defy Midterm History, Hold Fed Races and Possibly Win House (Michael Graham, 11/09/22, NH Journal)

Sen. Maggie Hassan handily won re-election over retired Gen. Don Bolduc by about 10 points, garnering 54 percent of the vote.

As the Washington Post's Henry Olsen noted this weekend, "With the notable exceptions of Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), no Senate candidate since 2014 has run more than five points ahead of the job approval rating of their party's president."

Hassan is on course to outpace Biden's 40 percent approval number by nearly 15 points.

In the First Congressional District, Republican Karoline Leavitt looked like a strong challenger, and polls consistently showed a neck-and-neck race with Rep. Chris Pappas in the polls. Instead, she trailed the incumbent by eight points, failing even to match the performance of fellow Republican Matt Mowers when he challenged Pappas two years ago.

And the Republican retreat reached down to the state house, too. Late Tuesday night, the GOP was in danger of losing control of the House and shrinking its majority in the state Senate.