Stuff You Should Consume - Post-Election Edition
Welcome to this week’s edition of “Stuff You Should Consume” — a weekly compilation of interesting political content for Message Box readers
“Republicans Did Not Read the Room” by Michelle Goldberg, New York Times
It will take a while to sort out exactly why Republicans did so much worse than expected. Maybe people care more about the integrity of our democracy than the pundits give them credit for. Maybe they were turned off by Republicans cackling over the assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. But there seems little question that abortion was a big part of the story.
There were five referendums dealing with abortion rights on Tuesday, in Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, California and Montana. The abortion-rights side won the first four and, as of Wednesday afternoon, is leading in Montana. In North Carolina’s 13th District, the Trump-endorsed Republican Bo Hines, who said that victims of rape and incest who become pregnant should be subject to “a community-level review process” before being granted an abortion, lost a seat considered a tossup.
“How Democrats Avoided a Red Wave” by Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic
Republicans did not win those economically pessimistic voters by quite as big a margin as midterm precedents had suggested. Usually, the party out of power has dominated voters with those views: Democrats, for instance, in 2018 won about 85 percent of those who described the economy as either not so good or poor. This year, Republicans slightly exceeded that result among those who called the economy “poor,” the most negative designation. But among those who gave the equivocal verdict of “not so good,” Republicans won only 62 percent, way down from the Democrats’ total four years ago.
“Bad Vibes v. Good Results. Lynn Vavreck on the ’22 Midterms” Offline with Jon Favreau podcast
Dr. Lynn Vavreck, professor of political scientist at UCLA and contributing columnist to The Upshot at The New York Times, sits down with Jon to talk about 2022 midterms. After 2020, Lynn and her colleagues interviewed over 500,000 voters, leading them to conclude that our politics aren’t just polarized, but calcified. She argues that calcification has placed our politics on a knife’s edge, raising the stakes of every election and that 2022 was the biggest case of calcification we’ve seen yet.
“Republicans' old-school campaign” by Kyle Tharp and Nick Seymour, FWIW
One common refrain we’ve heard this cycle from digital strategists on both sides of the aisle is that political advertising on CTV (connected TV) / streaming platforms was having a moment. Many Americans are increasingly watching their favorite shows on apps like Hulu or on Roku devices - and smart campaigns have shifted their paid media budgets accordingly.
“Michigan GOP memo delivers scathing election post-mortem on Trump-backed candidates” by Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press
The memo said that amid high Republican turnout, Dixon underperformed the base party vote by 8 percentage points. By comparison, former Attorney General Bill Schuette, the 2018 GOP candidate who lost to Whitmer, underperformed the GOP base by only 3.9 percentage points.
“Tudor’s efforts focused largely on Republican red meat issues, in hopes of inspiring a 2020-like showing at the polls,” the memo said. “There were more ads on transgender sports than inflation, gas prices and bread and butter issues that could have swayed independent voters. We did not have a turnout problem – middle-of-the-road voters simply didn’t like what Tudor was selling.”
“A Shock to the System Is Coming. Which Party Will Be Ready for It?” by Jamelle Bouie, New York Times
For all of the drama of this election — and for all of its very real stakes — it’s also true that 2022 is yet another cycle in which the overall electoral picture changed less than you might imagine. There was no landslide, no decisive victory for one side over the other. The same was true in 2020: Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump has to be balanced against significant defeats in the House. Even 2018 — an ostensible “wave” election — saw something of a split decision, with a Democratic victory in the House of Representatives and a Republican win in the Senate.
Go back to 2016, or 2012, and you’ll see the same: an almost evenly divided country, where no advance — and no retreat — moves farther than a few feet.
“John Fetterman’s Team on How a Stroke Changed His Campaign” by Nia Prater, New York Magazine
In 2016, John Fetterman’s campaign for Senate didn’t make it beyond the Democratic primary, in which he finished third. Six years later, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor took another shot at the Senate, only this time, days before the primary, he faced a more serious obstacle: a stroke that threatened his life, his chances of winning, and the Democratic majority in Washington.
Then, according to Rebecca Katz, who worked on both of Fetterman’s Senate campaigns, something unexpected happened: The stroke deepened voters’ connection to the candidate beyond his Carhartt persona. During an interview on Thursday, the senior campaign adviser talked about how the team regrouped after Fetterman’s health crisis, the controversy around debating Mehmet Oz, and how they managed to win.