The Brutal Summer Campaign

Record heat waves weren’t the only brutal parts of the summer. The midterms ramped up, with members of congress such as Rep. Deborah Ross, left, (D-NC) coming home to campaign. (Photo courtesy of Noah Derucher)

What a summer. This one was a treasure trove of political news and developments that culminated in the unofficial kickoff on Labor Day. 

But the campaign got way darker before then. Roe v. Wade was overturned, causing Republican States to ban abortion. There were numerous scandals and special elections, each one better than the last for the Democrats. Build Back Better, President Biden’s massive infrastructure bill, passed through reconciliation. It’s clear what happened to the “Red Wave.”

It is now not even a Red Trickle. 

What Set Off the Chain Reaction?

Those who haven’t paid attention to the news over the summer are probably wondering “what the heck is going on?” 

What started out as a referendum on President Biden and Democratic control of the Legislative Branch has been turned into an election where Republicans are on the backfoot. Quite honestly, they did it to themselves.

The very first thing that happened was the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Originally a Right Wing pipe dream, their plan has finally come to fruition. They have their 6-3 majority of extremists on the Supreme Court, and that is how they did it.

A lot of people in the past have believed abortion wasn’t a huge issue, but now the issue is almost tied with the economy. 

Call me crazy, but it looks like overturning a decision from almost 50 years ago that has 62% support just might be a losing strategy. 

That’s not all. The Senate passed a $700 Billion version of the Build Back Better Bill, which included climate, tax and spending provisions. This was one of Biden’s biggest campaign promises and he got it done.

In addition, President Biden started student debt relief, gas prices have fallen for nearly 90 days straight, and inflation hit its peak and has been tumbling. 

President Biden’s approval rating has also gone up. On June 10, it was 40.2% approving to 53.6% disapproving. The numbers have fluctuated, and Biden hit his all time low of only 37.9% approving on July 23, but he has skyrocketed since. Now, President Biden is at a 43% approval rating and a 52.8% disapproval rating.

I’m not kidding myself. I am not wishcasting. 43% is still poor, but if the fall goes similarly for the Democrats as the summer did, then Republicans may find themselves very frustrated.

Candidate Quality

A theme we’ve seen in politics lately is poor candidate quality. It happens to both parties too. In 2020, the Democratic Nominee for The U.S. Senate, Cal Cunningham, had a sexting scandal that destroyed his campaign and political future.

In 2022, however, the Republican candidates have been…. Not great.

They even admit it! “Candidates have a lot to do with it.” Said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a late August press conference. 

Republican candidates in just about every key Senate race have never run for or held office in their lives. Take, for example, Herschel Walker, the football player, who is running in Georgia. It turns out that he fantasizes about killing people, has secret illegitimate children, and thinks if the U.S. adopts a climate plan, we will get China’s “Bad Air.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean. 

People like him and Dr. Oz, Blake Masters, J.D. Vance. They’re just unqualified. I know that the “outsider” effect can help in an election but if all you are is a carpetbagger who doesn’t represent the views of your state, it may be time to admit you’re not a populist, just completely Loony Toons. 

One of the few exceptions is in Nevada, where Adam Laxalt, the grandson of Senator Paul Laxalt, is trying to defeat Catherine Cortez-Masto, Nevada’s incumbent senior senator. 

However, Laxalt’s extreme personal views, record of underperforming, and the Reid Machine (a Democratic political machine in Nevada started by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to help moderate Democrats win elections.) Means that Democrats likely still have the edge. 

It extends to the House of Representatives, too.

In the Alaska U.S. House special election, Democrat Mary Petola beat former Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, many believe this is due to a ranked choice system. Petola took in 38%, Palin received 31%, and Begich, the other Republican, took 28%.

Begich was eliminated, and just 25% of his voters approved of Palin. Just 51% of his votes went to her, with 28% going Democratic and the remainder just not marking a second choice. That final round was Petola taking 51.5% and Palin taking 48.5%

It’s true that Republicans got 62% together in the first round, but when the ballots were counted and second choices were figured out, Palin couldn’t win enough of her own party. Whether this is her own unpopularity, a continuation of special election overperformances or real newfound liberal strength in Alaska, this should be a red flag.. 

Think of it like this: Trump won Alaska by 10 points.That means in the last election, Alaska was 15 points more Republican than the country. Democrats won this special election by 3 points. 

Democrats have not held Alaska’s house seat in 49 years, last one a statewide race there in 2008 (Begich won a senate race) and they have not won Alaska presidentially since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide. In short, this is a big deal..


Democrats are energized. The enthusiasm gap is non-existent. But they can’t become complacent. I have always said this: Leave it to the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

We don’t know how these elections will turn out. Frankly, after 2016, I refuse to accept anything as predetermined. However, I have never been more confident in the Democratic chances of winning the United States Senate. 


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