As Election Day approaches, the change Americans are desperately seeking will finally be realized: more campaign ads.
It’s bad enough that they dominate the airwaves, but the salt in the wound is that, with few exceptions, most are ridiculously bad, only succeeding in comic relief.
Note to both sides: Hire consultants who don’t take the cookie-cutter approach and you’ll be better off.
Lots to analyze before the votes are counted, so let’s get started:
On paper, this year’s contests favor Republicans, if only because the ruling party historically outperforms the midyear elections. To throw
in a favorable recut, and it looks even better.
The icing on the cake, the two pressing issues that should – key word “should” – sound the death knell for Democrats: soaring inflation and rising
Add chaos at the border (where a record 3 million people have crossed, and which is a conduit for deadly fentanyl), booming stock markets, a looming recession and numerous foreign policy fires, and you have a perfect storm for the GOP.
Yet despite all of this, many races are still so neck and neck that they could go either way.
This is partly due to the country’s hyperpartisanship, where the pool of undecided, independent and crusader voters has become smaller, and partly due to controversial Republican candidates.
Given this situation, it is not very bright for Republican leaders to continue to predict a “red tsunami”. Of course, that could, and could very well happen, especially since most undecided voters usually come out on top for the challenger (and since the Democrats hold the power, they’re the ‘holder’, even in the races to open seat).
But here’s the thing: polls and predictions don’t win elections. The votes yes.
As this column pointed out earlier, exuberant predictions are not only unnecessary, but counterproductive. Instead of rallying the troops, they often have the opposite effect, creating a mindset that since everything is in hand, the base has nothing to do, from donations to volunteering to voting.
And for some, what is essential, the vote, takes a back seat since “it will be a landslide” anyway.
The issue of participation
It’s no secret that participation wins.
So let’s look at the Pennsylvania numbers:
Of the 1.4 million mail-in ballot requests so far, 70% are from Democrats, while just 20% are Republicans.
Translation: The GOP desperately needs its base, as well as independent and unaffiliated voters, to turn out in droves on Election Day.
If only a small fraction stays at home – because of the weather, long lines or the feeling that “the Republicans will win anyway, so my vote is not necessary” –
the results could be devastating for the GOP.
It is therefore inconceivable that supposedly smart leaders continue to make reckless predictions about victory given the stakes and the unpredictability of the turnout.
The proof is in the pudding, as Georgia’s 2021 runoffs illustrate.
Despite the monumental importance of these two seats—since they would determine who controlled the Senate—neither base proved in strength.
But the Democrats had just enough to win, fueled, ironically, by Donald Trump’s lackluster involvement and questioning of the electoral process.
Early voting has spiraled completely out of control, given that some voted a staggering five weeks before the election. Hey, under that
logic, why not just open the vote for 2024 the day after this election?
Let’s not be naive — obviously postal voting is here to stay — but the practice needs to be thoroughly reformed, as it is inefficient, leads to
election integrity issues, and adds significant expense to local governments.
From a common sense perspective, what happens when citizens vote weeks before an election and then learn something distressing about their candidate?
In 2016, the FBI Director’s announcement on Hillary Clinton’s emails comes to mind, as do the revelations about Trump’s “sex tape.”
And now, questions are swirling about John Fetterman’s health after his performance in the debate, creating repercussions both statewide and across the country.
There is no cure for “voter’s remorse,” so by definition early voters make critically important decisions without having the full picture.
Many died for our right to vote; the least we can do is respect their sacrifice by giving more weight to our choices.
Did John Fetterman’s stroke doom him, as some cheerful Republicans believe? Not so fast.
First, as mentioned, hundreds of thousands of people had already voted before the debate, so these ballots are a done deal.
Second, Pennsylvania, the mirror of the nation, has become not only very partisan, but also partisan. In other words, Republicans will vote almost entirely for Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Similarly, most Democrats will shoot for Fetterman, regardless of his stroke.
Is this the height of political partisanship?
Absolutely, say many Republicans, as they try to take the moral high road. But that’s dishonest.
Let’s be very honest: turn the tables, and virtually every GOP voter would do the same if it was their guy with a medical condition.
Why? Because we are at a time in American history where common ground is rapidly disappearing, having been overrun by extremes on both sides.
The real question is whether the undecided will be induced to vote for Oz (or at least not vote for Mr. Fetterman), which we won’t know until the dust settles.
But one thing is clear: Fetterman’s stroke isn’t helping him, since, in real life, hardly anyone will vote for his “courage” in the debate.
It might be a net neutral, and maybe Oz benefits from it, but either way, it’s an advantage for Republicans because the debate has flatly stopped everything
Fetterman had the momentum.
Add to that the general feeling that the Republicans are surging down the home stretch, and the prospects of an Oz victory have increased dramatically.
Voting is an inherently error-prone activity, as it is impossible to know which side will generate the best turnout. Republicans often undervoted, like in 2016, but that’s no guarantee for this election.
Given that the close races are within the margin of error, there could be significant election surprises for both sides.
That said, a combination of gut instinct, anecdotal evidence and historical precedent – like the last time inflation was this high, and
the undecided almost universally breaking for the challenger – indicates, at least for this author, a Republican advantage of at least 2 points more
than most polls report.
While predictions in this environment are a wild ride, if this advantage materialized, the GOP would likely end up with at least 228 seats in the House, where the majority is 218, and win Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Nevada. and in Georgia, which would give them control of this body.
New Hampshire, where the Republican was struck off by some, will likely end up much closer than expected but will remain a Democrat.
And while the Dems will likely survive tight races in New York for Governor and Washington State for the Senate, they will now have to spend vast sums in these typically liberal strongholds – which otherwise would have been spent elsewhere – in the next few months. election cycles.
Campaign email failures
Republicans have done a decent, but not superb, job of hammering out inflation and crime.
But they would have been in an even better position had they run a montage ad, year-round, showing a host of problems under the Biden administration: sheer chaos during the pullout from Afghanistan, a huge increase in the cost of healthcare, the border crisis with charts showing where and how fentanyl is coming to America, a rapidly spinning gas pump price gauge, and a supermarket checkout superimposed on exorbitant food prices, compared to previous years.
Democrats have made the calculated choice to focus almost exclusively on abortion, at the expense of fighting inflation and crime.
Of course, the GOP would always have had the upper hand on these issues, but a smart, well-targeted message from the Dems — what went wrong and how to fix it, even if it meant criticizing their own party — would have somewhat dampened Republican momentum.
If the biting races were to break the Republican, the Democratic Party’s failure to broaden its message will have made the difference.
And it will lead to vitriolic intra-party brawls as Democrats fight for the soul of their party heading into 2024, just when they can least afford disunity. And who said politics was boring?
Let the counting of votes begin!
Chris Freind is a freelance columnist and commentator whose column appears weekly. This column is a special edition. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrisfreind.