A hearty number of column inches (so anachronistic!) are being devoted today to explaining various reasons Democrats lost yesterday and Republicans won. It’s the long-running day-after tradition, and it’s rarely illuminating. But, you got to fill the papers, they say.
Truth is, we all knew this was going to happen two years ago. Hell, we were all pretty sure even six years ago, when this class of senators was elected. Without a presidential election to buoy them, these unlikely Democratic faces representing deeply conservative states would not be long in their seats.
The reason why is not surprising. The olds, the racists, the government-haters, and the other various undercurrents of resentment always come out to vote. They don’t need to be excited by their candidates; they don’t need to be convinced by grand visions of leadership or policy agendas. They just know something’s rotten in Denmark, and better off just checking off the box next to the guy (almost always the guy!) who represents that cynicism.
There’s millions of them, and they always vote. They’e a given. Unfortunately, not a given are everybody else. They’re sick of shitty campaigns and need to be convinced and inspired to come out to vote. They show up on presidential years because presidential candidates bring with them a cohesive policy agenda and some kind of inspiring campaign message.
It’s this impulse that leads them to be disappointed two years later when that policy agenda goes nowhere and the inspiration turns to a petulant and irritating waling. And, of course, they decide it’s not worth bothering and stay home.
Basic mathematics would foretell this result every single four years, and it does. Of course, it’s not helped when this is the Democratic party’s campaign message:
It’s the message they carry every time they’re sinking: Run away from your party, run away from your unpopular president, and don’t, for one second, mention guns or poverty or women’s reproductive rights or anything that might be divisive. No! Make sure that the only thing anybody knows about you is that you don’t support your own party’s agenda: that’ll inspire voters!
At the end of the day, though, the numbers were probably never going to work out. However, it needs be noted: Democrats did pretty well! What? Yes! Can you believe they ran two competitive state-wide races…in Georgia?! That they almost unseated an incumbent governor in Wisconsin? They did unseat a governor in Pennsylvania? That for some reason, people thought North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana were even in play? Sure, they lost. But they were in the game. Which is more than I can say about the University of Michigan football team or Aston Villa FC this fall.
One interesting thing of note: Because of a mistake of history, this particular Senate class (Senate Class II, to be pedantic) by far represents the lowest number Americans of the three. Class I includes states that represent 75% of Americans and Class III includes states that represent 73% of Americans. Class II? 52%. That’s right: Only 52% of Americans got to vote for a senator yesterday. What’s more is that Class II is absurdly conservative as well. Every Deep South state has a Class II senator with the exception of Florida. Go ahead, look at this map and tell me it doesn’t look almost like a presidential election map.
There, you have my uninteresting election Monday Morning Quarterback story. Go ahead and share your glee, ennui, or crushing sadness down there in the comments.