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The Outcome Of The Midterms Is Not Written In Stone Yet-- Which Party Will Screw Up Worse?

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Kentucky yesterday, McConnell was supremely confident that the GOP is on the verge of historic wins in the midterms but... the headlines today were all about how he hinted that Republicans could still screw this up by nominating too many "unacceptable" (and unelectable) candidates.

Has he looked at some of the congressional incumbents? Is Marjorie Traitor Greene "acceptable?" Lauren Boebert? Matt Gaetz? Paul Gosar? Madison Cawthorn? In their deep red congressional districts, I have to report, they absolutely are. In fact in districts like theirs, crackpot extremists are perfect representations of what the voters are-- and want. What McConnell is worried about are states and districts where winning candidates have to put electoral coalitions together that include swing voters, independents and moderates. Candidates eager to please Trump by yelling about a stolen election, turn off mainstream voters. Ron Johnson's extremism might not defeat him in Wisconsin but waving the Russian flag and defending Putin will. These are the kinds of things that keep McConnell up at night.

The Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House and they managed to accomplish next to nothing for the American people. Everything voters hoped for in 2020-- from raising the minimum wage to lowering the cost of drugs-- went up in smoke... and Biden's approval numbers sank accordingly. So McConnell asked "'How could you screw this up?' It's actually possible. And we've had some experience with that in the past. In the Senate, if you look at where we have to compete in order to get into a majority, there are places that are competitive in the general election. So you can't nominate somebody who's just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people and win."

Referring to extremists like Todd Akin in Missouri, Roy Moore in Alabama and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, he noted that in the past there had been instances of "bizarre people" winning primaries but whose policy positions were just too damn bizarre for mainstream voters and lost to Democrats even in "safe" red states.

This year-- largely thanks to Trump insisting on party candidates pledge allegiance to him personally and to his discredited claims about a stolen election-- the GOP could wind up with a slate of unelectable general election candidates in Georgia (Herschel Walker), Missouri (Eric Greitens), Pennsylvania (Mehmet Oz), North Carolina (Ted Budd), Ohio (Josh Mandel), New Hampshire (Don Bolduc), Alaska (Kelly Tshibaka), Nevada (Adam Laxalt) and Arizona (Blake Masters). He warned that for Senate elections "Having fully-electable nominees is critical."

Yesterday Sabato's Crystal Ball ran a piece by Alan Abramowitz suggesting that things might not be as terrible for the Democrats as they look, particularly in the Senate. Based on mathematical mumbo jumbo he suggests that "Democrats can expect to lose about 19 seats in the House and break even in the Senate... [W]e can say that there is a high probability that Democrats would lose between 9 and 29 seats in the House. The likely range of Senate outcomes goes from a loss of 3 seats to a gain of 3 seats."

He concluded that "Democrats are very likely to lose their majority in the House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm election and could lose their majority in the Senate, although that is less certain. In neither chamber, however, are they likely to experience a shellacking of the sort that both parties have experienced in some postwar midterm elections. That is simply because they won only 222 seats in the House in 2020 and are defending only 14 seats in the Senate. The fact that very few of those Democratic seats in the House and none of the Democratic seats in the Senate are in districts or states that were carried by Donald Trump in 2020 makes it even less likely that the party will experience a shellacking the size of which we’ve seen in some previous midterms or anything close to it-- even as the Republicans could very well flip both chambers of Congress this fall."

Meh... this kind of quantitative political analysis is pretty lame. Judging by what happened in Virginia, where the Republicans won in areas where Trump performed terribly. Also, quality counts when it comes to candidates. Example: the Democratic establishment is eager to nominate shitty candidates who can't possibly win without a blue wave (Cheri Beasely in North Carolina, Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, Val Demings in Florida, Tim Ryan in Ohio, Mandela Barnes, Alex Lasry or Sarah Godlewski in Wisconsin...). Abramowitz could be completely off base. On the other hand, suppose Biden starts issuing executive orders while blasting conservatives (all the Republicans plus a couple of Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party) for knee-jerk opposition to everything he's trying to accomplish for the American people. I don't expect Biden to do anything worthwhile-- when left to his own devices, he never has-- but if he really wanted to win the midterms he could erase federal student debt, lower health care costs, take real action on Climate...

Or imagine a case where the nomination process deals the Democrats the best possible hand-- take Missouri-- and the Republicans the worst possible hand. A Lucas Kunce vs Eric Greitens contest is exactly what McConnell fears most. Or if Tom Nelson manages to defeat the Democratic establishment choices and goes into the general election against Ron Johnson in Wisconsin or if Alan Grayson or Morgan Harper manage the same feat in Florida and Ohio. Whatever damage Trump is doing to the Republicans, Chuck Schumer can match him among Democrats-- not to mention the DCCCC in House races, like this one in Oregon.

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