A Post-Mortem on the Election

By Dr. Harold A. Black



Most people I know were disappointed in the results of the midterm election. The pundits almost unanimously predicted a “red wave” with the Republicans picking up as many as 65 seats in the House and four seats in the Senate. Instead, the Republicans will go from 213 seats in the House to only 221 seats. In the Senate, the Republicans will actually lose a seat and go from 50 seats to 49. How did this happen? It has always been the case that incumbency is hard to beat and that only swing districts are in play. How else would those representatives on the far right and far left be consistently returned to office? As a result, prior to the election I thought – like the pundits – that the Republicans would retake control of the House. However, the House is the least important body in the legislature. I know that all the spending bills originate there, but the Senate has veto power and the filibuster if all else fails. The Senate is the most important legislative body largely because of its veto power and it is where the president’s nominees are vetted. With the Democrats still in control of the Senate, expect to see a continuation of the types of appointments made by this president. Biden’s cabinet is the least capable, least qualified of any cabinet within modern history. Expect to see more judges appointed who view the Constitution as a “living” document and who are unwilling or incapable of telling us what a woman is. Expect more nominees nominated on the basis of race, gender and sexual identity rather than qualifications. All of this will continue unabated given the makeup of the Senate.

I thought since all of this was obvious, that the Republicans would concentrate their efforts on winning the Senate. But befitting the title “the stupid party” the Republicans did not aggressively contest the vulnerable Democratic seats in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. The two open seats were held by Republicans and I thought that the Republicans would hold Ohio but lose Pennsylvania. They would hold Ohio because a popular Republican governor was running for reelection and would have coattails for the Senate candidate. They would lose Pennsylvania because the Republican candidate for governor was weak and destined to lose while the candidate for Senate was roundly disliked. As my colleague Rep. Duncan pointed out, if the results of the primary were different the Republicans would have easily won the seat in Pennsylvania. The final candidate won the nomination because he was the darling of the conservative media and endorsed by Trump. That led to him losing to perhaps the worst candidate in recent memory. Voters in Pennsylvania preferred a person with the most radical agenda, one who was against fracking and for releasing hardened criminals to the Republican candidate. Go figure.

Throughout all the campaigns, one thing was evident: the Republicans were greatly outspent. Although Trump had amassed $100 million in his PAC, he did not spend his money to support the very candidates that he had endorsed in Georgia, Arizona, New Hampshire and Nevada. The Democrats actually spent $53 million to boost the weakest far right candidates in the primaries to have them run against their own weak incumbents. The strategy seemed to work, largely in part because the Republicans did not counter their spending efforts. As to funding, the Democrats spent $73 million in Arizona. The Republicans spent $9 million. In Nevada, Republicans were outspent $46 million to $12 million. In New Hampshire, it was $36 million to $2 million. In Pennsylvania, $52 million to $32 million and in Georgia $75 million to $32 million. Admittedly, money is not everything but these numbers are hard to ignore. Moreover, the Republicans actually funded the campaign for the senator from Alaska who voted to impeach Trump even though the seat was going to stay in Republican hands. To do this while not funding the Trump-endorsed candidates could only mean one thing. The Republican establishment hates Donald Trump more than it wants to regain control of the Senate.