No complacency after the election

Infidel753: No complacency after the election

Democrats have every right to celebrate the results of this month’s election.  The red wave fizzled out.  The Republicans took the House majority by only a tiny margin, which will be rendered unworkable by their own flaming-nutball fringe.  Democrats held the Senate and will probably get to 51-49 after the Georgia runoff.  Election denialists lost almost every race, and except in Arizona, there has been practically no “stolen election” nonsense.

Nevertheless, they should avoid complacency.  There are still reasons for concern going forward.

1.  Holding the Senate in 2024 will be very difficult.  Every Republican senator who will be up for re-election in 2024 is in a safely red state (with the possible exception of Florida), so there is no realistic chance of picking up any new Senate seats.  That means Democrats can’t afford to lose more than one — and that’s assuming they win the presidency again so that a Democratic vice president remains as the tie-breaker.

2.  A number of unusual factors conspired to squelch the red wave. The Dobbs decision and threats to Social Security and Medicare turned off a lot of voters.  Trump stuck the Republicans with some dud candidates who lost races a more conventional candidate might have won.  He also insisted on making himself and his stolen-election claims an issue.  But you can’t count on Republicans to keep making huge stupid mistakes right before each election, and Trump won’t always be a factor.

3.  As Electoral-Vote points out, voters were more rejecting Trumpists than rejecting Republicans in general; and Hispanics, Asians and even blacks continued shifting toward Republicans — who did better with each of those groups than in 2018.

4.  Liberal blogs have been proclaiming that, at last, young voters turned out in high numbers.  It’s not true.  And total turnout wasn’t actually all that high — it was lower than in 2018.  These figures are total votes for the House of Representatives in each year:

5.  Democrats have been telling themselves the polls were hopelessly wrong and can be ignored from now on.  In fact, the polls turned out to be pretty accurate if you exclude the wave of Republican-leaning junk polls that were dumped just before the election to skew the averages.  So no, we can’t just ignore polls from now on, and the red wave was probably real before Dobbs and Trump’s narcissism flattened it.

6.  Most importantly, there are many issues where Democrats are far out of step with the American mainstream — it’s not just a “messaging” problem:

…..the cultural left in and around the Democratic party has managed to associate the party with a series of views on crime, immigration, policing, free speech and of course race and gender that are quite far from those of the median voter. These unpopular views are further amplified by Democratic-leaning media and nonprofits, as well as within the Democratic party infrastructure itself, all of which are thoroughly dominated by the cultural left….. Democrats continue to be weighed down by those whose tendency is to oppose firm action to control crime or the southern border as concessions to racism, interpret concerns about ideological school curricula and lowering educational standards as manifestations of white supremacy, and generally emphasize the identity politics angle of virtually every issue…..

In the recent New York Times/Sienna poll, voters by 15 points (49-34) say Democrats have gone too far in pushing a “woke” ideology on issues related to race and gender, rather than not far enough….. the poll asked voters whether they supported or opposed “allowing public school teachers to provide classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to children in elementary school (grades 1-5)” Note that this stipulation is actually stricter than the one in the Florida law that aroused such horror in Democratic circles. Voters responded by 43 points (70-27) that they opposed allowing such a practice….. If [Democrats] ever hope to overcome their structural obstacles to electoral and governance success, there really is no choice but to move to the center on cultural issues…..

Mainstream voters are never going to accept that violent criminals do not deserve harsh punishment, or that the US should not enforce its immigration laws, or that it’s OK for men to use the girls’ bathroom or compete on women’s sports teams.  The fact that the left is so out-of-step on such issues should be a big concern to anyone who cares about Democrats actually winning elections, as opposed to merely being able to stand around basking in their own righteousness.  Calling voters names ending in -ist and -phobe for having such views, and running away whenever anybody brings up the problem, will just result in more voters moving toward the Republicans.

7.  Before the election, I argued that it would be best for the country if one side won in a landslide, because if one party loses massively, at least that one will be forced to purge its own lunatic-fringe ideas and move toward the sensible center.  Well, there was no landslide, but the results were enough of a disappointment for the Republicans that they seem motivated at last to purge at least some parts of their extensive inventory of lunatic-fringery — Trump worship and election denialism.  More and more major Republican figures are openly saying that it’s time to move on from Trump and his obsessions.  It’s not enough — I’ve seen no sign that they’re ready to turn against other crank ideas like global-warming denialism or anti-vaxism — but if they move toward sanity even this much and the Democrats refuse to budge on any of their own fringe views, then to that extent they will benefit.

8.  Knee-jerk hatred of gun culture — and yes, guns are part of the culture in huge areas of the US — remains a major problem.  So long as every mass shooting by an isolated psycho triggers a flood of disdain and loathing against a hundred million law-abiding gun owners, and outright threats to a clear Constitutional right, the Democrats will be electorally pretty much locked out of whole states and regions, without which it’s only barely possible to win nationally.

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It’s unlikely that these issues will hurt the Democrats much in 2024 specifically.  The Republicans will probably fail to win the presidency because the conflict between pro- and anti-Trump factions will still be ongoing (if Trump is the nominee, he’ll alienate centrist voters, and if someone else is the nominee, Trump will throw a tantrum and tell his supporters not to vote).  If they use their House majority to stage a bunch of posturing phony “investigations” instead of to work on solving the country’s problems, they’ll turn off mainstream voters and lose the majority again.  But in the long run the exhausted majority of voters will reward pragmatic centrism and punish those who cling to the polarizing fringes.  If you want the Democrats to win elections going forward, help them be the former and not the latter.