Credit: Gage Skidmore under licence CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

US Midterms: The winners and losers

By “winners and losers” here, we don’t mean “who won the elections”. We mean who were the real winners, and real losers, from last night’s US midterms, as we look ahead. Let’s get into it.

Winner: Joe Biden

Why is Biden a winner, even as he may lose the US House of Representatives to the Republicans? Because he vastly over-performed expectations, and history. Almost all Presidents lose seats in their first mid term elections, but pre election polling and models, and the state of the economy, led people to believe that Biden might get a clobbering. Instead: It’s one of the best outcomes for a sitting President in years.

Why does that matter? It matters because his future is now entirely in his hands. A bad midterm clobbering would have only enhanced whispers that it was time for Biden to stand back, and not contest the next Presidential election. There would have been calls for new blood, based on his age. Now? He’s master of his party, again.

Loser: Donald Trump

Look, some of you won’t believe a famous Trump-hater like me. But maybe you’ll believe Micheal Brendan Dougherty:

Or a Trump original booster, Mike Cernovich?

Trump was a very busy endorser in these elections, handpicking candidates across America in key races, and making his endorsement conditional on those candidates expressing support for the conspiracy theory that he actually won the last election.

Almost all of those candidates lost, and all of the highest profile ones did. Meanwhile the two most successful Republicans on the night were candidates Trump refused to endorse: Brian Kemp in Georgia, and Ron DeSantis in Florida.

Republicans have now contested four national elections with Trump as their figurehead. They’ve lost the last three. The exit polls last night showed that American voters view him unfavourably, by a margin of 60% to 36%. He will not be President again – the only question is how quickly his supporters come to terms with that, and move on.

Winner: Ron DeSantis

Florida used to be a swing state. Last night, De Santis won it by 20 per cent. In an ordinary election, that would be impressive. In an election where his party struggled everywhere else? It becomes the kind of thing big donors and key supporters notice. If DeSantis decides to run for President against Trump, he will have the support and goodwill of almost the entire right-wing establishment in the US.

How will he take on Trump? Well, he has two obvious arguments: One, he wins by so much that he can turn to Trump onstage and say “nobody could steal the election from me in Florida because I didn’t give them a chance – you did”. Second, he can hit Trump on the pandemic, and Trump’s support for vaccines.

Don’t be surprised if the man who used to come up with nicknames for everyone else is suddenly labled “Lockdown Don” by the Governor of Florida.

Loser: Hunter Biden

Republicans look likely to have a very tiny majority in the US House of Representatives. Not big enough to pass many laws, or force the White House to do much. But big enough to spend all the time it would have spent passing laws, with a bigger majority, on investigating things instead. Expect them to spend two years making Biden’s life a subpoena-ridden hell.

Winner: Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s funding is safe for the foreseeable future. It was a bad night at the ballot box for Republicans who want to defund Ukraine. One of them, Trump supporter Lauren Boebert, actually lost her seat in Colorado.

Loser: People who write their pieces about the midterms in advance

If you were a silly person who wrote a whole piece, say, yesterday, about what Biden’s mid-term clobbering meant, then, well, you’re probably a loser.

Thankfully, nobody here did that. No sir-ee.

(It was good, though).

Winner: Pro Lifers

This is entirely counter-intuitive, and other media outlets will no doubt say to the contrary, but hear me out: Last night’s elections were clearly powered, in part, by a Democratic backlash on abortion.

In that sense, Pro-Lifers got very lucky in their timing: They should be thanking God that these midterms fell at a time when a relatively unpopular Democratic President is in office, and when the economy was big enough of an issue to hold back the “blue wave” many had predicted when Roe v Wade was overturned. There will be no national legislation on abortion in the US with this congress.

Loser: The Media

One conclusion I took from watching the results shows last night: The US media is irredeemable. CNN was its usual self, working in passive-aggressive denunciations of Republicans at every chance it got. Fox News was denying the evidence of its eyes for as long as possible. If you just wanted news, there was nowhere to turn. It was propaganda all the way down, on all sides.

One thing: We might annoy you from time to time, here at Gript, but we won’t bullshit you the way the American outlets seem to bullshit their viewers. That’s how the Republicans nominated all the crazy people who lost last night: Right wing media is as much to blame for it as right wing voters are.

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