Saturday, November 12, 2022

Last Call For Nifty Fifty, Disunited States

Catherine Cortez Masto has pulled it off in Nevada, and that means with John Fetterman's pickup, Democrats will hold on to the Senate regardless of the outcome of the Georgia runoff next month.

The picture in the Senate became clear late Saturday after Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada narrowly defeated Republican Adam Laxalt to win re-election, putting her party over the threshold, NBC News projected Saturday.

"Thank you, Nevada!" Cortez Masto said in a tweet Saturday evening after its two most populous counties, Clark and Washoe, finished counting mail-in ballots.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona won his re-election contest in Arizona, NBC News projected Friday evening, directing all eyes to Nevada. Both Laxalt and Masters were endorsed by Trump and promoted his false claims about the presidential race he lost.

Masto's victory means Democrats will hold the Senate regardless of the outcome of Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff election, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker will face each other again after neither cleared the 50% threshold required under state law.

A Walker win would keep the Senate 50-50, where Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote for Democrats.

A Warnock victory would make it 51-49, giving Democrats one extra vote in a chamber where they have often been stymied by internal dissent from members like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Biden can now count on partners in the Senate to confirm his judicial and administration appointments, even if his legislative agenda ends up effectively blocked because of a Republican takeover of the House.

Republicans headed into Tuesday's election confident a "red wave" would sweep them into power in the Senate and give them a commanding majority in the House.

As it became clear that neither would materialize, conservative leaders and media figures began pointing fingers and blaming each other for the surprising defeat — with Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy all facing backlash.

"The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new," Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted after it became clear his party had lost hope of retaking the Senate.
The GOP needs to be buried alright. Keep in mind though that all of the Republicans attacking Trump want to be Trump "without the baggage" and support all of Trump's policies, picks, and panders.

Getting rid of Trump won't stop the GOP's vile rancor any more than cutting out a tumor would save a person after the cancer has already spread. It's needed, for sure, but it won't cure the problem.

And we absolutely need Warnock to win in December to defuse Joe Manchin's threats.

Ron's Gone Wrong (But Won Anyway)

The one state where the Democrats crashed and burned on Tuesday was Florida. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis trounced Democratic former Rep. Charlie Crist, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio handily beat Democratic Rep. Val Demings, and the difference in both cases was the loss of the Latino vote in the state to the GOP, especially in Miami-Dade County.

Inside a packed section of La Carreta, the iconic Cuban restaurant in Little Havana, trays were packed with croquetas and guava pastelitos, while a DJ blasted music for people wearing MarĂ­a Elvira Salazar T-shirts. 
The election night party was for the freshman Miami Congresswoman of Florida’s Congressional District 27 — a district with the largest share of Hispanic residents anywhere in the state — who danced her way past the treats, onto the makeshift stage to declare victory for a second term. 
“This election proves what Ronald Reagan famously said, that Latinos are Republicans, they just don’t know it,” Salazar said Tuesday at her victory party, declaring an early night win over her Colombian-American opponent, Democrat Annette Taddeo.

Until tonight, because 2022 has been the year of the Hispanic Republicans,” she added.
Salazar’s statement is true for Florida, where Hispanic support for Republicans in the 2022 election — and for Gov. Ron DeSantis in particular — was crucial to a decisive and crushing victory over Democrats, according to a Miami Herald analysis of precinct-level results. The margin of victory for DeSantis — a nearly 20-percentage-point difference — has catapulted him onto the national political stage and into a potential 2024 presidential run.

Nationally, Dems did considerably better with Latino voters, especially in Nevada, New Mexico, California and Arizona. But Florida, and Miami-Dade County in particular, is where the hopes of Florida Democrats went to die.

DeSantis got 90%+ of the Latino vote in several precincts there. Republicans rolled to easy victories and increased the margin of their supermajority in the state legislature.  The results from Tuesday mean that the GOP legislative policies that lost elsewhere will be front and center in the Sunshine State.  
Supercharged by a supermajority in the House and Senate, Florida legislative leaders broke their silence Wednesday and confirmed they are prepared to discuss further abortion restrictions in Florida in the next year. 
But how far they will go is the big question, and interviews with the presiding officers indicate they already appear to be taking different approaches. 
Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times in an interview that she wants to see the 15-week ban approved last year by lawmakers reduced to 12 weeks with the addition of an exclusion for rape and incest, which is currently not allowed.
“I went on record on the abortion bill in support of an exclusion for rape and incest, and I’d like to see that,’’ said Passidomo, a Naples Republican who will be sworn in this month as the third woman to be Florida’s Senate president. “And I think in order to accomplish that, I think we would have to reduce the weeks. I don’t have a problem going to 12 weeks.”
Under the law passed earlier this year, all abortions are banned 15 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period. Women can still obtain an abortion after that cutoff if their health is threatened or if their baby has a “fatal fetal abnormality,” but there is no exception for victims of rape or incest.
Incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said the House is likely to support additional restrictions as well but he was unwilling to “put a number on it.”
“I don’t think it’s time for me to put a number on it until we’ve organized,’’ Renner said, noting that there are 30 new legislators joining the House after the election, including a record 85-member Republican majority. He was not prepared to say if they will want to see an outright ban on all abortions or further limits on the existing 15-week ban. 
“I personally am pro life and would like to see us move more in that direction,’’ he said. “But I want to hear from my colleagues in the House and my colleagues in the Senate before we take any steps in that direction.”

Florida Republicans openly talking about how many more rights will be restricted and/or lost, and Florida voters are happy to go along. Texas and Ohio are bad too, but Democrats won there, flipping several US House seats in both states. Texas counties along the border elected Democrats with Latino voters leading the way.
But Florida may be lost for quite some time until Democrats can figure out a way to beat DeSantis.

They Voted Like Our Country Depended On It, Con't

With Dems now needing only a Senate win in Nevada or in the GA runoff to keep control, and the House still up for grabs this morning, Greg Sargent gives us five Village narratives that were shattered on Tuesday.

1. Democracy was on the ballot, and (for now) it’s winning.

We have long been told that inflation and crime are “real” issues that truly matter, while Democratic warnings about the fate of democracy wouldn’t motivate voters. I also feared this.

The precise role of those warnings in driving Democratic overperformance is uncertain. But we can already say Donald Trump-fueled election denialism suffered a rebuke at the polls, and that voters meaningfully reduced the threat it poses.

With Democrats sweeping gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — where GOP governors could have certified sham presidential electors for a losing GOP candidate — a big pathway to a stolen or crisis-ridden 2024 election has been choked off.

And if Kari Lake’s gubernatorial bid in Arizona fails, as appears possible, none of the five most crucial swing states in the 2020 presidential election would have election-denying governors. (Republican Brian Kemp, who defied Trump, won in Georgia.) There’s also a real chance that none will have an election-denying secretary of state.

And so, while dozens of election deniers did win reelection to the House, we seem to be avoiding a situation in which voters failed to hold the most prominent deniers accountable for brashly flaunting their intentions to subvert democracy, which at bottom was a test of the public’s appetite for authoritarianism. 
2. Kevin McCarthy’s dance with Trump has been a disaster.

Just after Jan. 6, 2021, the House minority leader privately concluded Trump should resign. Then he made a public pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to cement their alliance, and helped cover up Trump’s coup attempt for the next 20 months.

For a time, McCarthy’s game was widely treated in the media as clever. He was harnessing the energy of the Trump base to retake the House, even as the GOP didn’t appear poised to pay any political price for helping place Trump beyond accountability. We’ll never know what would have happened if McCarthy had taken the other path — using Jan. 6 to marginalize Trump — but we do know now that harnessing Trumpist energy failed to produce the decisive rout he predicted.

In a poetic twist, the Trumpier House Republicans now see McCarthy as a wounded animal, Punchbowl News reports. Even if Republicans win the House majority, its sheer narrowness is likely to make it easier for members of the MAGA caucus to knife McCarthy in the back, legislatively or with a leadership challenge — a fitting end given the corrupt bargain he struck. 
3. Democratic “meddling” in primaries worked.

When Democrats elevated MAGA Republicans in primaries, believing they would be weaker general-election opponents, the roar of pundit criticism was deafening. And to be fair, at first it looked prone to backfiring by letting election deniers sneak into office.

But it was a bet that seemingly paid off. As HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard demonstrates, six of the most prominent election-denying candidates who were boosted by Democrats in House, Senate and gubernatorial races went down.

The critics oversimplified this matter. If you believe the House could pose its most dire threat to democracy simply by virtue of being GOP-controlled, and you also believe elevating a few election deniers might make that outcome less likely, then it’s not an entirely cynical strategy. It risked one outcome (adding a few election deniers to the House) to reduce the risk of another, worse outcome (a House under GOP control).

In fairness, it was probably too risky to elevate election deniers running for executive positions in states, where they could seriously subvert democracy. That said, they don’t seem to be getting into office either. As power politics, this strategy succeeded.

4. “Invasion” language did little for Republicans.

House Republicans poured enormous sums into ads depicting the migrant “invasion” in the vilest of terms. Republicans have long enjoyed a presumption of a major advantage on this issue, but aside from Trump’s 2016 victory, it keeps failing to deliver. The border was central in the 2018 and 2020 elections, and Republicans lost both (though with House pickups in the latter).

Some will argue that Democrats neutralized immigration this time by keeping some of Trump’s border policies, and it’s true that the party hasn’t made a case for its own immigration vision. Still, GOP confidence that President Biden’s “disastrous open border” would spark major electoral repudiation, giving Republicans space to hyper-radicalize their base around the issue, has proved wrong.

And if Blake Masters loses in the Arizona Senate race — after openly embracing “great replacement theory” and running ads featuring the most lurid and militarized “invasion” imagery imaginable — that will only add more evidence against the political effectiveness of this GOP strategy. 
5. A radicalized MAGA House might not have free rein, after all. 
It has long been suggested (including by me) that a GOP-controlled House would be able to run amok with Benghazi-style investigations and impeachments of everyone down to the White House chef.

But if the majority remains narrow, it’s unclear whether the votes will be there to impeach Biden. And while zealous investigations are expected to roar forward, Republican leaders are almost certainly going to struggle to prevent the unruly MAGA caucus from truly driving things off the rails.

Republicans will likely still win the House and the Senate is still in play. But the big emerging story of these midterm elections is that MAGAfied authoritarian forces enthusiastically embraced by the GOP suffered unexpected and potentially grave setbacks.

Whether Republicans will accept this interpretation and act on it is another matter entirely.
I'll go ahead and add Number Six here: The Dobbs decision cost the GOP dozens of winnable races.  Every single state constitutional amendment on the ballot to enshrine abortion won and drove women to vote. Every single ballot measure to end abortion lost.

Even here in Kentucky.

The anti-abortion measures failed across the board. But the pro-abortion measures won big, and especially in Michigan, saved the Democrats. The people who told you abortion wouldn't matter in November?

They were wrong. All of them.

 Here endeth the lesson.

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