Let me start this post with something out-of-this-world. As if the absurdity of some of the political campaigns around the nation has not been enough of an example. There will be a complete lunar eclipse on November 8th, when the entire moon will illuminate coppery-red from 5:17 A.M. until 6:42 A.M. Eastern Time. Just in time for the polls opening! Not sure what the Mayans would make of this celestial event of which I take note, but I offer it as the start of this post about my predictions for the 2022 midterm elections, and the unsettled time in which we find ourselves. The fear that might have registered on the faces of Mayans as they gathered at sites near Chichen Itza to watch the moon might be akin to the dread many Americans feel about the health of our democracy as we head to the polls.
(The portion below, prior to the predictions, was written at my desk on the Madison Isthmus on September 14th. The Tim Michels quote was added at ‘press time’. I mention this as the themes of the 2022 midterm elections and their critical importance are not new. Or to be taken lightly.)
Fifty years from now researchers will better try to understand, while historians will employ their best writing skills in explaining, what happened in the midterm elections of 2022. The subtitle for books about this year will be rather pointed, basically asking how voters could not (or willfully would not) understand that fascism is a far greater concern than high gas prices and inflation? We can add our own thoughts in the current time as to why a sizable swath of conservative Americans have forsaken facts, shunned actual journalism, and disdained being informed even when given all the opportunities that one can avail themselves of in our tech-driven world. (Talk about a reason for education reform in the country!)
If these midterm elections were about policy ideas regarding equitable taxation, a robust debate about reducing our carbon footprint, or adjusting our prison systems to meet the needs of inmates upon their release voters could say, once the voting was completed and counted that win or lose, the elections had merit. A meaning. But most of these elections across the nation were not about ideas or policy, even though spending on these elections will be in the billions of dollars. (At the time of publication spending on federal and state midterm campaigns had topped $16 billion, the most expensive in our nation’s history.) Due to a continuous and willfully desired chipping away at the foundations of our political institutions and electoral processes in many races from coast to coast, the very essence of what makes our nation a working democracy is on the ballot. That is just a stunning and dispiriting fact.
Using the Big Lie from Donald Trump as the foundation with races for congress, attorney general, governor, and statehouse seats has placed nearly 305 white conservative candidates on the ballot who refuse to accept the presidential election of 2020. I make the point concerning the ethnicity of the candidates as the angry white base of Republican voters are the ones who have brought this nation to the precarious place it is today. It is that segment of voters that historians will study to understand what made them turn against democracy and the ideals of our nation. The internal danger to our nation at this time, in my estimation, has never been higher since the South sought to undermine the United States in early 1861. It was then, too, that angry whites sought to undermine democracy.
The impending threats Republican candidates have made about the fate of our future elections have not been nuanced. Many actions to curtail voters started shortly after Trump lost in 2020. They have made bold statements about their fascist intentions. Senator Ron Johnson cannot even commit to accepting the results of the election. As I publish this post Johnson stated for the press “I sure hope I can”. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Tim Michels, the GOP nominee for governor stated it clearly with a bullhorn effect. “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”. This is where our democracy has landed. Badger State taxpayers saw their money spent to placate the most absurd of the Republican base by employing an ex-Supreme Court justice who I suggested at the time he served—should write his opinions in crayon. It was most remarkable when Michael Gableman aped out in 2022 that caricature!
The threat of election victories of attorney generals who are not wedded to facts or federal candidates who disregard commitments to electoral integrity means a grave threat to our future electoral rigors and accountability is in store.
Every two years, since 1980, I have placed my thoughts and predictions into print regarding the races on the ballot. I thrill to politics and history and while this biannual undertaking has always been entertaining and hopeful, I find this year it feels weighty and foreboding. The best and brightest ideals have given way to the base of the Republican Party; conservative voters and many candidates who have proven most worthy of being defined as absurd, witless, and unschooled. Election Night will be a tough one for anyone who ever cared about this place called America. Though I predict Democrats retain the U.S. Senate the damage that has been done to our democracy due to some of the Republican candidates and their voters will take a very long time to be reversed. Brown shirts are sure to be selling briskly in some places around the nation come Wednesday morning. (How soon before they round up bloggers?)
ELECTION NIGHT PREDICTIONS
While most folks will be watching the Georgia Senate race or the congressional race in Western Wisconsin, (those and many other races are ones this blogger will be keenly monitoring too), I want to call attention to what will be taking place in legislative races and which party will control one, or both chambers, of a statehouse in January. And why it seriously matters.
The Supreme Court will hear Moore v. Harper, which involves a challenge to gerrymandered congressional maps in North Carolina and in so doing very well could (given the unbridled conservative ideological whims of the Court) rule for what is known as independent state legislature theory. It is an attempt for undermining democracy being pushed by conservative zealots who brought us, Donald Trump. In a nutshell—quite literally–this crazed interpretation of the Constitution claims that state legislatures have unfettered authority to set rules for federal elections and cannot be countermanded by any other state-based entities, thus eliminating any checks and balances. In the pending court case, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the radical argument that the state legislature had the sole authority to draw congressional maps without consideration of the state constitution and without review by state courts. The court correctly concluded that the ISL theory would upend long-settled precedent and is “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.” Nonetheless, continuing its radical quest, the North Carolina legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and reinstate its maps.
If the court does so state legislatures could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors. Consider the fact that 44% of Republicans in crucial swing-state legislatures used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The data was compiled by The New York Times.
Republicans have complete control over legislatures in states that have a total of 307 electoral votes — 37 more than needed to win a presidential election. They hold majorities in several battleground states, meaning that if the Supreme Court endorsed the legal theory, a close presidential election could be overturned if just a few states assigned alternate slates of electors.
Democrats’ chances of bringing Republicans’ total below 270 are narrow: They would need to flip the Michigan Senate or the Arizona Senate, and then one chamber in both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in 2024, in addition to defending the chambers the party currently controls.
Democrats and Republicans have set their sights on half a dozen states where state legislatures — or at least a single chamber — could flip in November. Democrats hope to wrest back one of the chambers in Michigan and the Arizona Senate and flip the Minnesota Senate. Republicans aim to win back the Minnesota House of Representatives and take control of one chamber, or both, in the Maine, Colorado, and Nevada legislatures. They are also targeting Oregon and Washington.
Now you, too, know why state legislative races far from your living room on Election Night matter.
In Wisconsin, though the legislature will remain deeply red due to the lack of redistricting reform, it seems a very steep climb to me to reach a veto-proof majority this cycle. I predict this GOP yearning is not achieved. If they were to achieve their desire it would require flipping five seats in the Assembly, and one in the Senate.
In WI 25th Senate District, to put a face to the reason why I made my prediction is that Democrat Kelly Westlund, a former staff member for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has run a tough and smart campaign. She has connected with rural voters—a must in this district—and will defeat Republican Romaine Quinn by 2%. Democrats have proven strong at the ballot box in this region and will do so again this cycle.
United States Senate
The United States Senate will be retained in Democratic hands. The historical tide is certainly against the party in power in the White House. The economy, a barometer for any election, is a deep concern for many voters. But there will be just enough voters in just the right states to keep one chamber of Congress in the hands of proven supporters of democracy. The effect Trump-endorsed candidates will have on the electorate in the key three states holds the primary reason as to why Monday morning quarterbacking from the GOP will simply be precious to hear. (Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—listed in line with when their polls close.) In these admittingly close races, each of the Republican nominees was an Election 2020 denier. While I might be called out on these predictions being just wishful thinking I believe the races will break for the Democratic candidate in each case due to voters saying, ‘this is a serious office and needs a serious person’.
I also want to note the group in the nation that I will be closely following in senate voter returns. The Hispanic and Latino vote is growing, and its power cannot be discounted. Currently, 38 members of the House are Latino, and some estimates over the past weeks have placed the number at 45 following Election Night. Hispanics are the largest racial and ethnic minority group in the country. They numbered 62.1 million in the 2020 Census or about 19% of the U.S. population. There are two places I am watching for how this segment of the electorate casts their ballots. In Nevada and their unionized cities, and then in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. The former will be key to which candidate wins, and the latter is just nerdy political watching. I am not predicting that the Flordia county goes red. Not at all. But I am prepared for a bit of a shocker in the numbers that will be cast at the polls, given the election history of this place. Hispanics make up almost 60% of the electorate there, and I wish to point out that Hillary Clinton won by almost 30% in 2016. Ron DeSantis lost the county by more than 20 points four years ago. But as Florida Hispanics are proving to be more conservative what will they show us at the polls this year? You see now why this county is one to watch and why the conservative nature of some Hispanic voters will be one both political parties will need to contend with in years to come.
Georgia….If there is one Senate race that just baffles me–as well as nauseates me–it is Hershel Walker’s efforts in Georgia. In late summer, I was reading Henry Clay: The Essential American by David and Jeanne Heidler where Senate luminaries like Daniel Webster and William Seward lifted off the pages to be reckoned with as the daily newspapers in the pile on the floor alongside me reported on the latest behavior of Walker. It was a stark contrast that just could not be missed. A serious and very important elected office could be occupied by a complete embarrassment—the very type of character that conservatives railed about when welfare reform was thy issue. Now conservative Republicans have embraced and adopted into their camp for tribal purposes someone they would in any other scenario lambast. The absurdity makes for additional proof of why the GOP has become a punchline for every dinner party in the nation. It certainly solidifies national views that there is always a lower level to the basement when it comes to Republican choices for their nominees. Raphael Warnock wins by 175,000 votes. No runoff. Key will be women, and Blacks who will support Stacy Abrams, (who will lose her race for governor) and due to that sliver of religious conservatives who will not cast a ballot for Walker due to his repeated boorish behavior. Think back to how a sliver of conservatives pulled back their vote in 1992 on the national ticket. Those votes matter.
Nevada….Democrats lose a seat as Adam Laxalt wins over incumbent Catherine Masto. The reason I mention this race is how a single county in the state will prove to be the story of the night for Nevadans. Much like Sauk County in Wisconsin is often viewed as the state’s political barometer, so too does Washoe County play that role in Nevada. When one looks at the political alignment of the county it is clear the numbers do not tilt blue or red. Similar numbers of registered Republicans (100,000) and Democrats (95,000), with about 82,000 more Washoe residents registered as nonpartisan. So, keep your apps, regardless of whichever election sights you are monitoring on Election Night, keyed to Washoe County. A blowout in Washoe and it is over in that state.
Ohio….If it were not for the track record of this state leaning more conservative I would predict that a Democratic victory was possible. I would base such a call on the fact that heading into Election Day GOP Governor Mike DeWine who is up for reelection sports a strong 15% lead while senate nominee J.D. Vance is regarded as the worst campaigner in the nation. OK, maybe tied with Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, Katie Hobbs. Vance is lazy, disjointed in conversation, and seemingly bored most of the time. With DeWine blowing his opponent away, Vance is in a dead heat with ever-ready, energized, and truly intelligent, Tim Ryan. I am not going to engage in what-ifs during this prediction post, but if I did, the question of where the SDCC was during the past six months would be questions 1, 2, and 3 when it comes to this race. Vance wins and if he thought the campaign was tedious, let him try out committee hearings. Middle-class Republican voters lost a great deal for falling for someone who fluffs Donald Trump.
Wisconsin….Many of us grew up learning about the painful and damaging chapter in our nation’s history that was due to Joe McCarthy. Lives were ruined, some committed suicide, and national policy was twisted while priorities were skewered due to an alcoholic senator who falsely raved about communists being everywhere. Now Ron Johnson, a-COVID-vaccine-denying-Big-Lie-advocate-and-democracy-damaging Republican is doing our state another massive disservice. Regardless of the metric used, Johsnon is the most absurd U.S. Senator now serving. Using racist ads and blatant lies he easily defeats (by 3%) Mandela Barnes. The question is of course, not what was wrong with Joe, or what condition currently plagues Ron, but rather what is wrong with us…the voters in the Badger State who allow this to happen? The shame is on the electorate who falls for such rubbish on a ballot.
I have placed my predictions for the contested seats in blue or red. I do not believe, just for clarification purposes, that Georgia will require a run-off election. Due to ranked voting in Alaska, I predict that Lisa Murkowski will be reelected, and the attempt to undermine Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell through the Trump-backed candidacy of Kelly Tshibaka will fail.
U.S. House Races
The House of Representatives will be in Republican hands when the new session convenes in January. When all the ballots are counted, I predict the GOP will have a majority with 18 members.
Alaska….Democrat Mary Peltola will continue to win, as she did earlier this year. She faces, among others in the ranked voting congressional match-up, Wasilla Hillbilly Sarah Palin. Palin has worked to dumb-down her would-be voters by attacking ranked voting. Apparently, Scholastic Weekly Reader has not had a story on this manner of voting so as to assist Palin with her education. After this election, Palin will fully grasp her time on the national stage is over. As a result, we will never again need to hear her call another female candidate a “chick”!
FL-10th….Maxwell Alejandro Frost gets mentioned here for the simple reason he will be the first Gen Z member of Congress after winning his primary victory in this safely Democratic district. Just a slice of history is the reason I note this man.
GA- 2nd…..Given there are 435 House seats it is truly troubling that only a very small number are what can be called competitive. The need for redistricting reform can be viewed all night long in America as the votes are counted. Only a small number are in question as to the outcome. One of them will be in Georgia where Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop, the longest-serving member of the state’s delegation squares off with GOP nominee Chris West. As I watched and read about elections for this November it turns out this congressional race is the only competitive one in the entire South! Think about that. Voters should demand redistricting reform. Bishop is part of the Blue Dog Democratic coalition and with his decades of experience working with white farmers and having deep roots in the Black community, he prevails.
NY-17th….Every election has one of those shockers, except this one was seen coming down the tracks for the past 2 weeks. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Maloney will be defeated. His hubris was way out of control when he selected to run in the 17th as opposed to the 18th, the one he had represented. Getting new voters to know him and like him has not been easy. It needs to be noted that President Biden won this area by 10% in 2020. Michael Lawler makes a little history with his predicted win by beating a DCCC member of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
WV 2nd…If Allen Drury were alive and writing books this plot line would be one of his creations. I only add this race as it does remind me of the famed author’s creative and lively narratives. The gay subplot in Advise and Consent crossed my mind with this race where right-wing conservative Congressman Alex Mooney, a Trump-backed Christian conservative who is anti-abortion, pro-coal, and thinks marriage should be ‘between a man and a woman’ faces his complete opposite on the ballot. The Democratic candidate, Barry Wendell, is an openly gay Jewish man who supports abortion rights and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. The Republican wins, but at least I was able to easily place Drury, a favorite of mine, into this prediction post.
WI 3rd….Central casting could not have offered a better person to fit the role of a congressional candidate for this district had they tried. This week, as Indian Summer made for glorious afternoons in Madison, I was discussing the election with a biker in the neighborhood. I mentioned that Brad Pfaff is the modern-day Andy Hardy. He might overplay his lines a bit and strikes me at times as being over-rehearsed but Pfaff receives high praise for his strong and correct stand for democratic (small d) values. The very ones I wrote about at the top of this post. His troubling and low-brow Republican opponent, Derrick Van Orden, was at the insurrection on Jan 6th. That lack of character and his desire to foment political discord should alert voters to a glaring lack of honor. But for many conservative voters, honor, and regard for our national ideals is not as important as their tribal politics. The seat held by Congressman Ron Kind turns unpatriotic red.
Michigan….No one should need to consider if they will be kidnapped while holding an elective office. Yet, that is precisely what Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer confronted as 13 men orchestrating a domestic terror plot to kidnap her while also plotting violence to overthrow the state government. My glee for the predicted victory for Whitmer will be stronger perhaps than for any other governor…. even my own in Wisconsin when Tony Evers wins. That is due to the fact the Michigan voters, based on news stories and Op-Ed pages in their newspapers over this summer and fall paint an electorate that knows one salient fact. Given the absolute threat to democracy’s survival, there is no place for a wishy-washy citizen. Whitmer wins by 3%.
Oklahoma….I strongly sense that some news will be made in the interior of the nation that will be greeted with smiles on the faces of Democrats late Tuesday night. Democrat Joy Hofmeister will do something that many said could not happen. She will defeat incumbent Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. Yes, she is a lifelong Republican who switched parties to tangle with the ethically challenged Stitt. But she is a strong supporter of education, understood the gravity of the COVID pandemic, and will prove to be a bit of a tonic on Election Night. I suspect a very, very tight win. But still, a win for Hofmeister.
Wisconsin….Tony Evers wins by 37,000 votes. Another close victory for the Democratic candidate. Why there is ticket-splitting among Republicans for candidates on the Wisconsin ballot can be explained here. One of the striking similarities I have heard in many conversations since the August Primary is how some self-defined Republicans were upset with how Tim Michels came into the state with huge amounts of money and undid all the painstakingly grassroots efforts of Rebecca Kleefisch. In each of these conversations from stores in Madison, to a Spring Green outdoor theatre, and online chats each of these voters had one thing in common. Each was a woman. They were not able to support the Republican nominee. Add in the abortion factor and the narrow loss by Michels coming Tuesday can be better understood.
Below is the blue and red alignment of the races for governor as I predict them on Election Night.
Attorney General Races
Wisconsin….The days when this state split votes between top races are not over. 2022 will prove that case as Ron Johnson wins, but so do Tony Evers and Josh Kaul. Women and abortion are key as to why I feel able to predict this race, along with what I am growing to believe, more and more, will be a strong turnout on university campuses (especially Madison and Milwaukee). One example of my views is shaped by two women, both political campaign professionals from Boston, who flew in for a week to work the campuses locally up to Election Day. They stayed rent-free with a neighbor. The numbers of early voters from these areas are most impressive. Kaul prevails.
My Mom grew up in Arkansas, so I have for many years–since the internet came into being–followed regional news from the Northwest region of the state. So, I predict that Rogers and Bentonville residents will vote separately on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in each of the cities. Currently is it illegal to sell alcohol, unless it’s served in restaurants, bars, or breweries, on Sundays, but residents can vote to allow it. And they will.
Yes, even school board races in Arkansas get a nod this year. I do so as it aligns with the theme of this year’s campaigns, and the place our nation finds itself. At the Bentonville School District in Arkansas, the Board has five seats up for election. There are seven seats, in total. In, and of itself, that would not carry weight for this biannual posting. What is disturbing is that, once again, candidates in a school race have received assistance and endorsements from the hostile-to-facts group, 1776 Project PAC based in ……yes….New York. The candidates accepted in-kind campaigning in the form of a flyer mailed to residents and text messages to Bentonville voters. Just to put this aid into context the 1776 Project has spent between $25,000 and $30,000 total on the races, according to the news from the organization. While I desire balanced and reasoned members to be elected to school boards it must be understood that this should not be a place for conservative groups to play politics. When fact-less claims are made by conservatives about curricula regarding transgender students or how racial history is studied voters must put their foot down firmly in the ballot box and say to a bogus outside group, ENOUGH! I can only surmise that partisan outsiders pushing an agenda will be met with disagreeing voters. I predict a majority of the ones lying about CRT will be rejected by the voters. It needs noting the Bentonville School District says none of the New York group’s claims are true. I add, just as they have not been true in the many other places around the nation, where racists like to make partisan mischief.
The lack of proper education funding is most evident in 81 ballot measures facing voters across the Badger State. Parents do not desire steep cuts to programming, and school boards are being responsive to the needs of families. Hence, a steep increase in the need to head to referendums to stop the painful choices too many schools are being forced into by the legislature’s lack of action. There are eight questions before voters in Dane County and I predict all will pass with room to spare. But then comes the question about the outcome of such ballot measures in the rural areas of the state. Now that it is the law for such ballot issues to be placed on general election-type days, it needs to be asked how many conservatives who go to the polling places to support the likes of Ron Johnson, can be counted on to also support local education? No, I am not closing this prediction post with a joke. While there are 39 capital referendums facing voters be mindful that more than half of all the questions before Wisconsin voters with a school referendum (42 of them) deal with issues of staffing and utility bills. Republicans in the legislature placed school districts in this position. Many of the voters this fall voted for those elected Republicans. Will those conservative voters now do the right thing or cut off their local education funding for the sake of their political purity?