Republican Midterm Sweep (or Not)?

Alan Zendell, August 14, 2022

Given their dismal record overall, the last few years, when the last few holdout pundits jumped on the Republican sweep train concerning the midterm elections, something felt off. With Trump under criminal investigation by two states and the Department of Justice, the revelations of the January 6th committee, and wide popular disapproval of the direction in which newly appointed Republican Justices have moved the Supreme Court, continued predictions of doom for Democrats seemed at odds with reality. It also didn’t feel right that given all of the above, President Biden’s approval rating was mired in the high thirties.

Much of the reason for those negative outlooks is the media’s need to stir interest through controversy. Their ratings and income depend on it. Worse is the effect of social media, whose clients often eschew thinking for themselves, and whose active users seriously over-represent fringe points of view. It’s never been more important for Americans to pay attention to facts and remember the priorities set forth in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Changes in our public mood take time, but trends are shifting. Consider the most recent report of Biden’s approval rating by the Rasmussen Group, which is viewed as biased toward Republicans, and rated “Lean Right” by AllSides.com. According to Rasmussen, Biden’s approval rating based on polls taken between August 10th and August 14th show a sharp increase. The respected website 538.com, which adjusts raw numbers to eliminate known biases and sampling issues, says Rasmussen rates Biden’s current approval at 45% and his disapproval rating at 49%. Both numbers show huge improvement in recent weeks, and look a lot better than Trump’s were, approaching the midterm elections. Perhaps more important, while they reflect much of Biden’s recent success, they motly pre-dated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act which is supported by a large majority of Americans.

Over the past few weeks, average voter sentiment by Party, nationally, has Democrats and Republicans in a dead heat at 41% each, hardly a right-wing tsunami. Given how badly many states have gerrymandered their electoral districts, that still portends Republican gains, although nearly a fifth of likely voters are still undecided. The fate of Republicans who spoke out against Trump during his impeachments and concerning the January 6th insurrection is tough to evaluate. Most have either retired or been defeated in primaries by Trump loyalists, but that reflects the divide among Republicans in states where Trump’s hold on the party is strongest. On further reflection, many of the Trump-supported candidates who won their primaries are not given much chance of winning in the general election.

It’s worth noting that until now, there has not been a united push by Democrats to influence public opinion. Additionally, it’s not Biden’s nature to brag or heap adulation on himself, which many Democrats fear makes him look weak in the face of a constant barrage of attacks and criticism from the right. Biden’s strategy has been to work quietly behind the scenes, not letting setbacks deter him from persevering, and that strategy has finally paid off.

The passage of two sweeping, watershed pieces of legislation he championed from the start reflect Biden’s legislative skills and seemingly infinite patience with renegades within his own party, and they significantly changed the direction of the country. We will now have the capacity to produce the billions of computer chips on which our economy and basic survival depend here at home instead of outsourcing them to countries that are potential adversaries. We will force our largest corporations to pay taxes on their earnings, and we will cut into pharmaceutical cartels’ ability to set drug prices that harm both our senior citizens and our treasury.

Finally, we are providing veterans with the support they deserve, especially against harm and injury caused by our own military practices; we are investing massive resources in reducing carbon emissions and assuring national energy independence; and Biden’s quiet, unspectacular uniting of Europe and NATO against Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and it’s ability to extort European policy based on dependence on Russian gas and oil has worked what many viewed as miracle six months ago. The massive Russian military has been stalled, and Russian casualties in its war with Ukraine are reportedly approaching 100,000 killed, while NATO appears to be expanding and strengthening.

With DOJ and the states of New York and Georgia appearing to move closer toward indicting Donald Trump for serious crimes that would be slam-dunk convictions against anyone else, I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about the November elections yet. We still have critical problems in states that are attempting to put Republican partisans in charge of elections, but change is clearly in the wind.

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