It’s been a difficult year for us, and even worse for many others, such as those suffering from long COVID or the many preventable COVID deaths of loved ones–not to mention those in any of the planet’s distressing number of war zones. We, at least, have food, shelter, and varying measures of health, thus plenty to be grateful for.
We still can, must, and do hope for better for all in the coming year.
As the ‘red wave’ narrative took hold in the Beltway, many prognosticators cited the country’s abysmal right track/wrong track numbers as evidence Democrats were destined for heavy losses.
It’s true that, heading into Election Day, the numbers were spectacularly bad, according to Civiqs tracking of the issue. Just 21% of registered voters said the country was on the “right track” compared to 68% saying it was on the “wrong track.”
But the assumption among myriad old-school analysts that all the negativity would specifically pull Democrats under turned out to be incorrect.
In fact, everyone, including Democratic voters and leaners, was dissatisfied with the state of the country, and they didn’t necessarily fault Democrats for the sorry state of affairs.
Since Election Day, right track numbers have made a small-but-notable rebound, from 21% just before Election Day to 28% now. Wrong track numbers have similarly fallen 5 points in the same time period, from 68% to 63%. Here’s Civiqs tracking of right track/wrong track views over the past 12 months.
It’s a smallish group, but big enough to have provided the margin of victory in the recent election: Some of the ‘wrong track’ people were, like me, primarily concerned about MAGA madness and the Dobbs decision.
Law360 (November 14, 2022, 4:30 PM EST) — A Miami attorney has accused her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend of cyberstalking and “smugly” posting numerous anonymous Google reviews that she says are damaging her law firm’s reputation, leading to a substantial drop in clientele.
In a complaint filed Thursday in Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, attorney Jessica C. Portalatin said the Jane Doe defendant is using anonymity to post threats and defamatory reviews, which are prominently featured in search engine results.
The article is paywalled, but here is the complaint.
The conventional wisdom on mid-term elections is that the party in the White House loses seats. How many they lose is supposed to be highly correlated to the incumbent President’s poll numbers.
Yet, Democrats suffered only very modest losses–albeit with large consequences since their majorities were so thin–given that President Biden’s approval number was in the lower 40s, a number that historically suggested greater losses.
I think I can explain at least a big part of that: the polls missed something important. The classic question asks what the voter thinks of President Biden’s job performance. The choices offered are Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Somewhat Unsatisfied, and Very Unsatisfied. They’ll usually take a “no opinion/undecided” if you offer it. Critically, the polls don’t ask why voters are unsatisfied.
Commentators assume, based no doubt on experience, that voters unsatisfied with the President are more likely to take it out on the party at election time. The more unsatisfied they are, the worse for the party. That logic fails in the case of Biden because a significant fraction of the unsatisfied voters think he is too moderate or insufficiently aggressive against Republican tactics. Those voters are never going to vote for Republicans. They may stay home, contributing to the extent that turnout matters, but if they do vote, they are going to vote for Democrats, and all the more so if the Democrat on the ticket seems like a real progressive rather than a triangulator.
This group probably shows up in all the polling groups: If you think Biden is not progressive enough, you might nonetheless say say you are “Very Satisfied” on the grounds that at least he’s not the other guy. Or, like me, you might say you are “Somewhat Satisfied” on the grounds that while Biden did some good things, I would have liked much more. I can easily see how some progressives might also say they are Somewhat or Very Dissatisfied to have their high hopes disappointed. Until we poll better, we’ll never know how this breaks down, but I’m certain this group exists, and that while not enormous it’s well sizeable enough to move the needle.
TL/DR: Democrats did better than expected because the way Biden’s approval number is measured ignores the existence of Progressives who wish Biden were different–but are never going to vote for Republicans.