What I Think Happened And Why

What I Think Happened And Why


Leonard Zwelling


I am getting some questions with regard to the results of Tuesday, November 2’s elections.  Many can be answered in Bret Stephens piece in The New York Times on November 4.

The two races of major consequence, the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, were most revealing as this blog had said they might be.

In Virginia, former governor Terry McAuliffe lost to newcomer Glenn Youngkin and Steve Kornacki’s big board analysis on MSNBC told why. The areas that President Biden won by huge amounts in 2020, particularly the counties around Washington, DC and Richmond went for McAuliffe by a significantly smaller margin than they went for Biden. That difference was all it took to turn Virginia red this time.

The New Jersey race was too close to call despite Governor Murphy seeking re-election in a traditionally very blue state, but he won in the end. Even as he wins, he loses. What the heck is going on? Why are Democrats faring so poorly less than a year after Mr. Biden was inaugurated?

It’s really not much of a mystery. Start with Biden himself. As Stephens writes, “no president elected after WW II lost more public support in his first few months of office than he has.”

In 2020, Joe Biden won the popular vote by about 7 million votes and the electoral college by the same margin that Trump won it over Hillary Clinton in 2016. The Senate was dead even and the House was marginally in Democratic hands. No one had a mandate and the country was split and deeply so about the proper direction in which to go. The Trump economy had been booming before covid and there was little doubt he would have been re-elected were it not for the virus and his handling of the government’s response to it. Joe Biden was the first choice of South Carolina only. There was little enthusiasm for his presidency right up to election day. He just seemed like he might bring some normalcy back to governing after the chaos of Trump. He was not elected to do big things. He was elected to get us past covid and return us to normalcy.

Since the convening of the new Congress in January, it has gotten only covid relief through as worthy major legislation. The congressional leadership on both sides seems inept, but in fact the GOP leadership in the House and Senate is getting what it wants. Nothing is happening. It is going to be hard for the Democrats in the House and in the Senate to run on nothing happening when the campaign season of 2022 starts in January. Furthermore, Biden ran as a moderate but seems to be taking the side of the liberals in his party and in so doing has given House progressives, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema veto power over his legislative agenda. Bad bet, Joe.

The country sees less and less of Donald Trump who wants to run again, but will not get an easy path to that nomination with Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and others vying for the nod. The GOP is in waiting while the Democrats make a holy mess of their legislative agenda and the President appears to be inept let alone very frail. America has had enough of this already and wants a change as soon as possible. The country wants the economic growth of Main Street back and most voters don’t own stock in the rising market. Most Americans are not keen on the socialism Biden is selling nor of his handling of events at our southern border or in Afghanistan. Biden’s popularity is at 42%. That’s pretty bad less than a year out from taking office.

That successful electoral change could be a true moderate Democrat or, more likely, a non-Trump Republican like those running in New Jersey and Virginia. These guys have shown the way forward.

What happened on Tuesday was a return of America back to the center. It was a tacit rejection of Mr. Biden’s performance and if I were Nancy Pelosi, I wouldn’t be cavalier with the Speaker’s gavel. It may not be hers for long. As for the Senate, that surely will flip to the GOP in 2022.

The Democrats have squandered the Trumpless period. Trump has squandered his time off by insisting he still won the election. The real question is who can begin the process of converting middle of the road sanity to an election victory in 2024? I seriously doubt it will be any Democrat and surely not Joe Biden. He looks tired already.

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