Elections 2022: WTHappened?

This was supposed to be a “shellacking”, with Republicans taking over pretty much every body up for election this year. The last runoff for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia now decided in Democrats favor, it’s time to answer the question:

WTH?

The Republicans failed to wrest a single U.S. Senate seat from us Democrats and despite winning about 3% more votes in U.S. House races than the Democrats which should translate into about a 13 seat majority, they won only 8 more seats than us Democrats. We flipped 3 Republican held governorships to the Republicans 1, and 1 Secretary of State to the Republicans 0. Here in Minnesota we held every statewide office on the ballot and the state House while picking up 3 seats to gain a thin 1 seat majority in the Senate.

Again, WTH?

We didn’t win this election, the Republicans pretty much lost it by running unqualified extremist candidates they must have scraped up off the internet’s skid row. Despite Reverend and Senator Warnock’s well earned win in Georgia, the easy survival of a bunch of Republican candidates there proves that Georgia is not a purple state and candidate quality still matters a whole lot. Same thing happened in the Minnesota Senate races when a poorly vetted Republican candidate got himself in a scandal, our wise DFL Senate caucus vigorously campaigned in that Republican leaning district and won it. Republicans winning only about half the U.S. House seats there overall vote predicted suggests they’re having the same “wasted vote” problem as the Democrats, as rural Republican voters uselessly “run up the score” by their huge victory margins while their extremist candidates turned off even 3rd tier suburban voters. Here in Minnesota’s congressional races we Democrats won 4 seats with 329 thousand more votes than we needed while the Republicans won 4 seats with 281,000 more votes than they needed, figure in the lower voter turnout in Republican districts and that’s pretty much as wash. Thus the “political wing” of the Neo-Nazis AKA the Republican Party will struggle to govern in congress and well earn the title of “lower house” while in our Minnesota legislature they’ll engage in tiring floor theatrics while our Democrats govern.

WTH happens next election?

I’ll discuss our political future ’round New Years…

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Election Day: Thanks for the Victories, GOP Jokers!

Political Science 101 teaches us that in a mid-term election, the party that doesn’t have the presidency tends to win Senate, Congressional, and lots more seats on down the ballot. Throw in inflation that the party in power really has little control over and this should have been a wave election for the Republicans, and they totally ignored that script. Was all the Trump worshipping and posing with assault rifles just a pilot pitching a series to the Comedy Channel while real political parties aim for prime airtime on CSPAN?

Having failed at domestic terrorism and elections, is the GOP even a serious political party?

If you were creating a political themed comedy you’d start with a plot line where your candidates make the wackiest statements possible- Accusing our most trusted guardians of our democracy of fraud and worse, feigning outrage over non existent trans athletes and immigrant workers, denying scientific facts en masse, supporting brutal dictators, and militant demonstrations against… Face masks? As for casting… What could be more comical than a carpetbagger TV Doc from New Jersey invading the proud rival Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to run for Senate, an unfaithful pro-lifer who virtually had a charge account at the abortion clinics, a top narcotic pusher and COVID denier who somehow still has a license, a hoard of extras decrying our fair elections while running for the offices that conduct our elections, Attorney General wannabes who’ve never tried a case, and self appointed military heroes who’ve never seen combat.

Nice try, republicans… If the Comedy Channel adds another channel or three and needs some cheap late night non union filler programming, they might maybe give you a call, and the couple minutes of disclaimers, trigger warnings, etc. that would have to precede and follow your poor attempts at comedy will kill even more time- A good thing because no advertiser would want to be within an hour or channel of your sick “humor”. Your sheepish concession speeches today said it all- You’re a damn poor excuse for a political party and ya ain’t funny either!

Election Day: To our Candidates and Campaigners, Thank You!

Paul Wellstone became a Senator by losing a race for State Auditor, then lost a battle against an unneeded power line, and then took on the task of defeating a republican incumbent Senator in a safe seat and got the party endorsement largely because on one else wanted to be the sacrificial lamb, and then won that Senate seat twice and was gonna make it thrice when we sadly lost him. Tim Walz was just another high school teacher who got really ticked off when he took some students on a field trip to a republican campaign rally and one was turned away because he’d been involved in the democratic party, motivating him to run against and defeat a republican incumbent in a red district and he held that seat ’til elected governor. Keith Ellison defended people who couldn’t afford a lawyer in Minneapolis until we needed a state representative and he ran and won, and then went on to ignore the party’s “seniority system” and win a seat in Congress and was later elected Attorney General. Every one of these elected democrats and more won despite long odds and some times rigged party endorsements against them too.

I am continually amazed and humbled by the small “d” democrats who run in deep red districts and challenge the party hierarchy that dictates a long stepped progression up the political ladder and kowtowing to special interest groups to win endorsements. These are the brave democrats who put their own hard earned money down and file for office despite the slim odds of victory, then spend every available hour until Election Day earning more voter’s support but sadly usually not enough. Then there’s the volunteers who campaign for these brave candidates despite the long odds and not always friendly or even civil reception they get. Privately the big “D” Democrats will call you idealistic, unrealistic, and even fools for running against such long odds, but the real fools are the party bosses and big donors who refuse to support you and waste $$$ and other resources in “safe” districts and saturation ad spend in expensive media markets.

Because you dared to run and campaign regardless of the odds our Democratic Party will win everywhere in the future- Candidates and Campaigners, Thank You!

Election -1 Day: Messin’ With the Turnout Model…

Link: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/media/3616/2018-turnout-polling-place-voting-map.pdf

Minnesota is the 3 time repeat voter turnout champion of the nation, but over a third of the eligible voters don’t bother to “exercise the franchise” when there’s no presidential race on the ballot. While the republicans haven’t won a presidential election here for a half century, those presidential only voters kept the democrats from similar off year clean sweeps until 2010. These democratic party winning streaks both in Minnesota and nationally where the republicans haven’t won an open seat presidential popular vote for three decades prove we democrats are the majority party… When we vote!

Non voters deciding an election are nothing new- In 1990 incumbent republican Rudy Boschwitz’s outing himself as a Jew may have tipped that election to democrat Paul Wellstone as bigoted republicans abandoned him. In the 2000 election in MN2 an early snowstorm that left roads in the more republican suburbs of Minneapolis merely wet while in southwest Minnesota it was colder and icy, reducing democratic turnout and ending the congressional career of democrat David Minge by a mere 155 votes. We followed that up with automatic recounts in the 2008 Senate race and 2010 Governor race, so close elections are nothing new in Minnesota.

Comes 2022 and the loyalists of both parties have become radically disparate democratic (maybe too) progressives vs. a republican faschist cult, and a well armed one at that. With control of everything but the White House determined by a handful to a dozen close races in each house and the constitutional offices, sadly the voters that don’t may throw this election…

And that’s how, without a shot fired, democracies die.

Election -4 days: Don’t Panic…

That wrap probably cost $20k+, and didn’t we already buy them a bus? Then again, $20K buys 30 seconds in the metro TV market and that bus sized billboard will be earning media for four days!

‘Bout now both parties are trying to get their followers “fired up”, rolling out wrapped busses to encourage us to “door knock ’til we drop” in the ritual of “modern” last minute panic campaigning… And most of this panic politics won’t change the results one iota.

Lets look at a “sample” ballot that happens to be mine- At the top Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan are leading by high single digits while our incumbent Attorney General, Auditor, and Secretary of State may be in the political fights of their lives. Below that in this R+ double digit district the outcome will follow the script, with republicans all too predictably winning the congressional and legislative races by huge margins. On the bottom and back of the ballot are non partisan races for 2 council members, a mayor, school board member, and judges and the only contested one is for the school board seat. Ballots for the rest of the counties voters are pretty similar, with the odd contested county board, municipal, school board, or soil and water conservation district race.

That suggests we should concentrate on getting every last democratic and leaning voter to the polls. If it were only that simple- For a start my city’s voters like 30% of the county’s rural voters automatically vote by mail, and as of today about 55% of their votes were already at the courthouse and that’s about the turnout we get in an off year election. Would be nice to know who those unvoted 45% are and which are democrats or leaners, but unfortunately our supposedly all knowing Democratic Party isn’t sharing or more likely hasn’t dug up the data. So we’re stuck blind door knocking the county’s largest city of 13,000, and the best bet is around the university. 13,000 population distills down to about 6000 homes and if we pick the precinct nearest the university that cuts it down to 2000 doors to knock which 40 democrats we don’t have might manage to knock in an afternoon so our ~20 will maybe find 200 home. Of that 200 there’s 80 republicans we’re gonna piss off, 80 are democrats of whom maybe 8 we can persuade to vote, and with some persuasion we might get 2 more independents and round up 10 more votes for statewide races where the “win number” is over a million.

That’s just one reason why canvassing is obsolete.

Couple years back labor funded a huge study in to what actually increased votes for our candidates. They found that advertising at the typical saturation levels is a waste, and calling or door knocking strangers isn’t much more effective. What they did find persuaded and encouraged voters was contact with democratic persuaders they knew and trusted. And given that most of us democrats vote and our friends do to, we’re not the best choices to do this “relational canvassing”- A young democrat with little voting experience with similar friends does a much better job. The Oshoff for Senate campaign in Georgia took this concept and ran with it, intentionally hiring newbie young organizers who motivated their networks to register and vote democratic and thus flipped a seat and made Georgia a purple state.

So relax, take deep breaths, and enjoy the excitement of the campaigns and election… And rest up for the recounts!

Election -5 days: Rural democrats Swarm for SOS Steve Simon!

So many democrats at Willmar that I had to shoot from outside the office window to get them all in the picture!

Even bigger crowd in Marshall, good thing we had a whole park!

With barely a days notice rural western Minnesota democrats mobilized to support our Secretary of State Steve Simon who is being challenged by a Republican election denier who’s already calling for sheriffs to invade polling places. Yes, in the middle of a weekday 30 odd democrats came together in Willmar, a city of but ~20,000, to support fair elections and our Secretary of State who will secure them. Then despite the cold winds 40+ even odder democrats showed up in Marshall (pop. ~13,000) to support Steve!

Steve at Willmar as the crowd grew…

Followed by democratic Minnesota Senate district 16 candidate Fernando Alvarado.

In Marshall Steve again explains why we need an impartial and fail Secretary of State like him to assure fair elections.

Followed by district 15 democratic senate candidate Anita Gaul whose been campaigning so hard she broke her ankle!

And Minnesota state house district 15A democratic candidate Keith VanOverbeke.

A few hours later just across the border in South Dakota we were reminded why we need the stewardship of democratic Secretaries of State to assure fair elections- In Minnehaha County a lawsuit has been filed to stop the counting of absentee ballots alleging imagined violations, and in a smaller county they’re trashing the vote counting machines and counting by hand!

Thanks Steve!

Election -6 Days: Walz Goes Rural!

Which for a teacher from small town Nebraska via Mankato is really just going home…

The media narrative is that Democrats don’t do rural… Which Governor Tim Walz handily disproved with appearances in Fargo and Fergus Falls. That’s the Fargo media market which covers 14 Minnesota counties with network affiliates hungry for news amidst the flat and boring Red River Valley. Thus this wise campaign move netted almost two minutes earned media on even the Fox affiliate and afternoon drive time coverage on KFGO, a highly rated talk station whose signal covers most of western Minnesota.

And to prove this ain’t no fluke, Walz is on the road again today in Duluth and democratic Secretary of State candidate Steve Simon will be in Willmar and Marshall tomorrow!

Election -7 Days: Let’s Make a Miracle!

And maybe save democracy too?

I won’t bother you with the polls and prognostications, it looks bad. Neither will I waste time on some of the gawd awful strategy some of our Democratic campaigns and party has mis-deployed. At this point the goal is to hang on to enough seats in houses and senates and governor’s mansions to block the Neo-Confederate AKA Republican Party’s planned reign of terror.

It’s too late for major policy shifts which would only look inconsistent at best and pandering at worst. But last week campaign spurts are nothing new- Here in Minnesota in 1990 Paul Wellstone only polled within striking distance of incumbent Rudy Boschwitz in the last weeks of the campaign and a last minute “I’m more jewish that you” remark by Boschwitz probably tipped the election to Wellstone. In the same election the Republican candidate for governor resigned the nomination in scandal and after a court fight Arne Carlson replaced him on the ballot just weeks before the election. Arne put together a winning campaign on short notice and defeated incumbent democrat Rudy Perpich. Eight years later Independent candidate for governor Jesse Ventura was been behind by double digits all summer but after spending the week before the election on a ’round the state RV tour won the three way race by outworking his opponents from both major parties. I was on a democratic campaign tour through Minneapolis the weekend before the election and the last event was a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, our Democratic candidate knocked off early while County Attorney candidate Amy Klobuchar stayed talking to voters until who knows when, she won a close race and started her unbroken winning streak a couple days later.

So yes, we can still turn close races around- Millions in ad buys can be shifted from saturated markets to races where our candidates are only trailing by low single digits- Iowa US Senate, IA 2&3, NE2, and SD Governor and a bunch of other “undercard” close races, I’m talking about you. And if you live in a competitive district and are able, please get out and campaign!

Halloween for Real: the Republican Horror Political S-t Show

Half century ago the “Rocky Hour Picture Show” was born in a London theatre and grew up on the big screen, and this work of trans and otherwise -gressive comedy lives on in multiple medias and live on the big screen late Saturday nights. In response to this and other flowerings of progressive culture, the Republicans have declared cultural civil war, cultivating a deadly serious armed to the teeth house of political horrors that threatens to launch a shooting war.

Believe it or not, the Republicans did learn a few things from their enemies during their neo-crusades in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq: Fire up enough men and a few women with fundamentalist religion, sexism, homophobia and general intolerance and they’ll fight wars for you with no need to arm them or pay them now or in veterans benefits. Indoctrinate over the internet and through a network of allied hate groups and the Republicans have plausible deniability, which comes in handy as the Republican Party has become the “political wing” of a coalition of hate groups including neo nazis, racists, misogynists, and anyone else violently opposed to 21st century science and culture.

This comes in handy for the Republicans as their brand of political backwardness isn’t too popular, resulting in their losing the popular vote in the last five presidential elections. But the republican’s alliance with their coalition of hate intimidates minority democratic voters into urban districts where their votes are often wasted in congressional and legislative elections so the Republican minority can block the will of the majority. And if that fails, they’ve got their armed thugs to scare away voters, threaten and block elections, and asassinate democratic leaders like they just tried.

Halloween and it’s fictional horrors will be over tomorrow, the Republican’s reign of terror will grow until we end it.

Election -12 Days: Can’t Win Without Rural! & Purges Already?

Short post tonight- The wound from a “DFL Strategist”‘s pronouncement that Democrats don’t need rural voters is still raw, so I took another look at the stats to see what a Democratic abandonment of rural Minnesota would do, and it’s scary. The democrats win statewide races in Minnesota largely due to excellent turnout in metro counties like Hennepin, in fact of the 7 counties with over 85% turnout in 2000 Biden won 4 with margins ranging from 9% in Washington County to 43% in Hennepin! 11 Counties had turnout under 70% and Trump won 9 of them by 1% to 38%.

Almost all of those Biden high turnout counties are in the metro and almost all of the Trump low turnout counties are rural. I gamed out the effects of increased turnout in those rural Trump leaning counties and if the republicans could have increased turnout there to metro levels in 2018 Walz and Flanagan would have narrowly won and the other 3 Constitutional Officers would have probably lost… Exactly the outcome the polls are suggesting this year! Case closed- Democrats cannot win Minnesota and rural states period without at least a respectable effort in rural areas!

Normally once the Democratic Party slate is set by the primary we democrats unite behind our candidates and put off the petty infighting until after the election. But this year too many Minnesota democrats have forgotten the election and decide having a pure but losing party is more important, demanding that democrats from the grassroots up to a sitting democratic congress member be purged for exercising their freedom of speech.