Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Purple Wave

      Predictions for the 2022 midterm elections varied from early Democrat optimism for a "blue wave" to later Republican predictions of a "red wave."

      What we got was purple.  As I write this, there is still no clear majority for either party in the U. S. House or Senate.  There are enough results in to show that whichever one come comes out on top in either or both bodies will have a slim majority at most.

      I think there's a message to our Congressthings in that, and I doubt any of them can discern it: don't get too far out of the mainstream.  It's endlessly appealing to the ego to stand up at campaign events and say things that energize the partisan base, to pursue the pet issues that result in cheers -- and to forget that the people who show up at rallies for both parties constitute only a fraction of the voting public.*  Most of 'em don't have time for that; most of them don't want sweeping change. They want their costs for heat, light, food and fuel to stop rising; they want low crime and smooth roads.  Lose sight of that and you'll lose elections.  Scare 'em too much and they'll dig in, returning incumbents, going for familiar names and patterns.

      Things are still getting sorted out.  It'll be awhile before we'll know which party's going to get saddled with the responsibility for getting things done in Washington.  It may turn out to be split.  The one clear reality is that however it is, the majority's going to have an uphill time of it and they're going to need to make nice with the party across the aisle.

      It'll be a new experience for a lot of 'em.
* Interesting factoid: Pundits like to decry the way U. S. voter turnout is pretty low as modern democracies go, despite a steady upward trend.  We managed around 66% in 2020.  But turnout among registered voters is unusually high, over 94%.  Registering to vote in most states -- other than North Dakota, where you only need to show ID that confirms you live there -- is a little more effort here than in other democracies, and it may be that citizens who were sufficiently motivated to register are also motivated to vote.  Whatever the reason, that third of the electorate who don't bother to show up also never bothered to get a ticket for the ride.

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