Sure, in most midterm elections the party ‘in power’ typically loses seats in the House and Senate, especially if the president has low approval ratings. Yet at first, this season looked very much like it would end differently. Then the Republicans gradually gained in the polls, so that now, just before Election Day, most races seem to be a draw within the margin of error.
And despite Democrats’ legislative efforts to improve the lives of ordinary Americans (the not super-rich) they only tout what they have done—which has not yet been felt in wage-earners’ pocketbooks—instead of exposing how the Republicans plan to help the plutocrats steal more of the wealth of the nation. What gives?
Who is Ahead on What Issue?
Well the extreme-right stacked Supreme Court overrode a half century of precedent for a woman’s right to choose, against old white men’s privilege of dictating the disposition of their bodies, and that seemed to make a big difference in voter attitudes, for a while. Now, as the election is nearly upon us, that issue seems to be losing steam. Or is it?
Inflation is hitting average Americans very hard. When things go wrong, traditionally the incumbent president is the primary target for blame. That is why the opposing party usually gains congressional seats in midterm elections.
But wait, there’s more! Anyone who pays any attention to what is going on in the world today, knows that the ruthless war on Ukraine prosecuted by history denying autocratic imperialist pseudo-Tsar Vladimir Putin has caused major petroleum shortages around the world. How could Joe Biden have caused the inflation of gas prices at the pump? Nobody talks about the possibility that the obeisance of Trump to Putin while he was president and his attempt to blackmail the Ukrainians might have encouraged Putin’s tendency to expand the Russian empire to the ‘glories’ of the old Soviet state as it was in the days of Putin’s climb to power in the KGB.
So, the polls show inflation and the cost of living under nearly full employment, but still relatively low average wages, is a big issue—prices have certainly accelerated while wages have either stagnated or crept up slightly to recapture workers lost to the withdrawal during the pandemic. Oh, and what of the climate emergency? It only gets worse as it is politically ignored.
While the causes of economic despair are largely external to politics (Putin, the pandemic, and the Trumpist plutocratic policies) the party in power takes the hit. Of course, the Republican neo-fascists keep pounding on the drums of xenophobia and racism, energizing the white nationalism that laid relatively dormant until the Trumpian period. Will hate prevail over reason? Well it will, unless the Democrats and independents turn out to vote in very large numbers. They must overcome gerrymandering and voter suppression by sheer numbers, or the majority of Americans will lose. It’s a bit late now for the Dem’s to start focusing on their difference from the Republicans on whose economic policies favor the people, and whose policies favor the elites.
Polling or Trolling, is That the Question?
Nobody likes polls, yet everyone pays close attention to them. Each party and many candidates fund their own, which of course tend to be slanted. Yet how accurate are they in general? That is usually very hard to determine, until after the fact when they are no longer important.
As the election draws near, it is not unusual to see polling percentages tend toward tighter races as a lot of people settle back to their habitual voting patterns. However, other matters do intervene. It is just that the polls are often not so reliable in detecting shifts in actual voting tendencies, and ultimately the outcome.
This time the polls may be an even greater quagmire than ever. We have to wonder how the reporting of changes in the poll percentages actually represent how people will vote. Moreover, we must consider how ‘accurate’ the polls may be in reflecting intentions in the first place. The politicians will dismiss them if they are losing points or they will cite them if they are gaining. And news media take them as truth.
Here’s the kicker. Reportedly, these days most people don’t really want to be surveyed at all. In fact, pollsters, who mostly interview folks on the phone, have to call a hundred potential respondents in order to get one or two to answer their questions. What does that do to the results? Well, statistically, you would have to analyze the demographics of all those who refused to be interviewed in order to get an estimate of how and how much a ‘sampling error’ of this magnitude would influence the results of the poll.
Wow! I have to consider the poll results as highly unreliable, because I know the pollsters don’t have the time or money for that kind of analysis before the election. So, we just don’t know what those reported percentages mean, if anything.
Turn Out or Turn In
Michael Moore says that the Democrats will win in most races this time, if only they turn out in force. That is probably true. Moore argues that Americans are not stupid; they know that the Republicans are planning to damage their interests if elected. They know that they will try to legislate a national abortion ban, give more tax breaks to the super-rich and the giant corporations that already rip off the American public by paying fewer taxes than the average worker pays. They know that the Republicans basically work for the interests of Big Business and the wealthiest people in the world.
Nevertheless, Moore recognizes that people not only get discouraged by the gerrymandering and voter suppression techniques of the party that doesn’t believe in democracy any more. Many also have such difficult lives because of the great divide between the very rich and the rest of us, and that it is often not at all easy just to get to the polls, stand in line for hours, and vote. It is clear that far more Americans want a return to civility in politics and an equitable economy—diametrically opposed to the Republican agenda of elitism and political violence—but they may harbor too much despair to turn out.
Whether average Americans turn out or turn in will determine the future of the little democracy we have left.