Democrats Ramp Up Filibuster Talks
Senate Senses Powell Pick
House Expected to Vote on Biden Infrastructure Bills
Biden Begins Twisting Arms
Trump-Backed Candidate Appears with Nazi Sympathizer
Justice Department Sues Texas Over Voting Restrictions
• The Day After, Part II: Other Developments
• The Day After, Part III: Takeaways
• The Day After, Part IV: What Does It Mean? (Their Take)
• The Day After, Part V: What Does It Mean? (Our Take)
The Democrats got poked in the eye in Virginia on Tuesday night (and Democrat Terry McAuliffe conceded the governor's race to Republican Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday, as expected). However, the blue team avoided a double-poke, as late returns in New Jersey broke strongly Democratic. Consequently, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) was elected to a second term.
The current count in the Garden State is 1,224,953 votes (50.2%) for Murphy and 1,195,570 votes (49.0%) for Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Approximately 10% of the votes are uncounted, and they are mostly mail-in, so they figure to be very pro-Murphy. However, though the Governor has apparently won, there are still some questions left to be answered.
The first of those questions is whether there will be a recount. Ciattarelli, thus far, has not conceded and is vowing to fight on until the end. If he wants a recount, he is required to have a good-faith belief that an error has been made. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to prove if his faith is good or is phony, so the real constraints are these: (1) Ciattarelli has 17 days from Election Day to file a suit in the state's superior court, and (2) his campaign has to pay for the costs of a recount (unless the recount changes the result of the election). It is legal to ask for a targeted recount, say of a particular county or precinct, so that opens up some tactical possibilities for getting maximum bang for the buck. All of this said, the gap between the two candidates is already more than 1% of the vote. And, as noted, it's expected to grow. There is no chance a recount will shift that many votes, so Ciattarelli might just throw in the towel here.
The second question, meanwhile, is whether the pollsters blew it. Back in September, several polls had the race neck-and-neck, though the polls taken in October gave the Governor a lead of 4-9 points. If the remaining votes break Democratic by a margin of 2 to 1, which is very plausible, then Murphy would end up winning 52% to 48%. That would mean the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group hit the bullseye, and that nearly all the other pollsters would be within the margin of error. (Monmouth University, which put Murphy at +11 on Oct. 27, would still have egg on its face, though.) By contrast, if the race stays as close as it currently is, or gets tighter, then nearly all the pollsters would be in "we screwed up" territory.
The third question is: "What the heck happened?" New Jersey is a very blue state, and Murphy was incumbent, and so his election was taken as a given. Clearly it was not. Writing for The Washington Post, Aaron Blake argues that this was not all that unexpected, and that New Jersey gubernatorial elections usually include a backlash against the party in power in Washington. Brent Johnson and Susan Livio, writing for NJ.com, essentially agree, characterizing all of the state's gubernatorial elections as "crazy," and pointing specifically to low Democratic enthusiasm and to Republican voters who were energized by debates about school boards and by their anger over Murphy's handling of COVID-19. And Bob Hennelly, writing for InsiderNJ, also thinks that Murphy failed to get voters excited. Hennelly focuses, in particular, on Black voters, who stayed home in droves. He believes that if the Democrats had gotten something done on Build Back Better, it might have given the Governor a boost with these folks.
We don't have any particular expertise in New Jersey politics, but we have readers who live there and who do, so we thought we'd share a couple of reports from them. First up, J.K. in Freehold, NJ, who had just a brief thought to share:
As a resident of New Jersey, I was bombarded by the constant repeat of the Ciattarelli TV commercial that features Murphy saying: "If you're a one-issue voter, and tax rate is your issue, we're probably not your state." This would sometimes play twice in a row, especially on election eve. I was sure this would be effective and feel that it certainly was. No mention, of course, of the quality of services and education these taxes provide.
And a lengthier assessment from a different J.K., who lives in Short Hills, NJ:
As a New Jersey resident, I will offer my thoughts on why Phil Murphy struggled in his reelection bid...
Consider Mr. Smith, who lives in Suburban Town, NJ. Upon climbing out of bed, he must decide how to get to the office. Mr. Smith must choose either NJ Transit or driving. He decides against the train, for he must wear a mask despite everyone being vaccinated and no one sitting within 15 feet of each other because of low ridership. Moreover, he has an important meeting that morning, and the near-fifty-year-old engines frequently break down, thereby making being on time no better than a 50/50 proposition. While Mr. Smith is relieved that he does not get a flat tire during his commute, given the state is ranked among the ten worst for infrastructure, the traffic—which, in part, is due to multiple toll collections on his route—causes him to be late. Nevertheless, he has a productive day but is dismayed by the amount of his paycheck that New Jersey withholds for taxes. Murphy, whose net worth is approaching $100 million thanks to his being a former partner at Goldman Sachs, says Mr. Smith needs to pay his fair share. Mr. Smith encounters more traffic on the drive home and subsequently fills up the gas tank. Recently having one of the lowest taxes on gasoline, New Jersey presently assesses the fourth highest in the nation. He needs to buy groceries, but his usual market has closed in the wake of Hurricane Ida—the third catastrophic storm in the past twenty-five years. The government never addressed the town's propensity to flood, which has worsened with climate change. At the new store, Mr. Smith faints over the surging price of food. Walking back to his car, he has one of his bags break, sending his fruit to the pavement. The grocer overstuffed the items to minimize the baggage fee.
Home, sweet home! Mr. Smith hops out of his car and greets his new neighbor, though he is saddened by the departure of his good friend, Mr. Jones, who left for Florida to save on his income tax bill. Mr. Smith enters his house, which he loves. Paying the mortgage is painful, but it is the highest property tax in the nation that really hurts. Mr. Smith greets his family. The schools are the "best in the nation," but his kids had all virtual instruction last year because the local teachers union refused to return to in-person learning without zero COVID. He hugs his seventeen year old daughter, who stays up later than the rest of the family every night given her workload. She is disheartened that she will be attending her 11th choice college next year—USC—despite a near perfect GPA, board scores in the stratosphere, and extracurricular activities, which included a genuine commitment to public service, as a consequence of the other ten universities diminishing her accomplishments because of "white privilege." She wanted to be recruited for her running, but the Governor effectively canceled the winter track season in 2021 despite nearly every high school in the state training outdoors and athletes in most other states enjoying a full competitive season. Ice hockey and basketball, on the other hand, had nearly a full slate of games in the Garden State. Gov. Murphy is apparently a fan. Before going to bed, Mr. Smith calls his mother. She's been despondent since losing her husband to COVID-19 last year, for New Jersey has the worst per capita mortality rates in the country thanks to the Governor inexplicably sending patients into the nursing homes.
To be fair, I recognize that some of Mr. Smith's gripes are completely out of Murphy's control or that they were caused and/or exacerbated by predecessors from both political parties. His intentions for a greater society are undoubtedly good ones. I went to an extremely diverse high school and college and am a better person for it. But, the moral of this story is that people, debatably acting out of self-interest, tend to vote for the short term micro than the long term macro.
Hopefully this gives readers something to chew on as they consider the Jersey surprise (which sounds like the name of a casserole that you would never, ever want to eat). (Z)
There was lots of other news yesterday, as the dust settled. Some of it involved races that were up in the air when counting stopped for the night on Tuesday. Some of it involved races that weren't as prominent on the radar. Anyhow, here are a dozen bits of interesting news from Wednesday:
- Incumbent Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey (DFL)
reelection; the outcome was not clear on Tuesday evening because he had 16 challengers and the city uses ranked-choice
voting. But it's clear now. This was progressives' best remaining chance to add to their victory total, after triumphs
in Boston, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. However, they came up short.
- A recount in the Democratic primary for FL-20, which is Rep. Alcee Hastings' (D) old seat, is now
as Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness leads healthcare CEO Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick by just 12 votes. The
district is D+31, so the winner of the recount will win the next round, against Republican Jason Mariner. Then, the
winner will get to do it all over again in 6 months or so, probably against the loser of the recount.
- Democratic Socialist India Walton
to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D), admitting that his write-in reelection campaign appears to have worked. Note that
concessions have no legal significance, so if the as-yet-uncounted write-in votes (which are about 60% of the overall
total) unexpectedly include thousands of write-ins for Mickey Mouse, Pat Paulsen, Ringo Starr, or Otto the Dachshund, then
she could still be elected. However, that is not very likely to happen.
- In the race for Seattle city attorney, which is officially a nonpartisan office, Democrat Nicole Thomas-Kennedy ran
a "defund the police" campaign. Republican Ann Davison ran a law-and-order campaign. Davison
58% to 41% and is going to win. She will be the first woman to hold that office, and the first registered Republican to
win an election in Seattle in 30 years.
- For the first time in nearly three decades, the three citywide elected officials in New York City—Mayor-elect
Eric Adams (D), Comptroller-elect Brad Lander (D), and re-elected public advocate Jumaane Williams (D)—will be
from the same borough, namely Brooklyn. Most of what we know about Brooklyn comes from the show "Welcome Back, Kotter,"
so we're not sure what the implications of this might be. Perhaps they will put a big "sweathogs" sign up above city
hall. In any case, The New York Times
it's a pretty big deal.
- State Sen. Steve Sweeney (D) is the second-most powerful politician in New Jersey behind Phil Murphy. He's also
got a reputation for corruption that may just have caught up with him. He is
in his reelection bid, 52% to 48%. The challenger who may well unseat Sweeney is Edward Durr (R), a truck driver with no
political experience who spent just $153 on his primary campaign (with more than half of that invested in donuts).
- The nation's oldest mayor, Vito Perillo (nonpartisan, but really Republican),
in Tinton Falls, NJ. He's a veteran of World War II, and will be 101 when his term ends. Much respect.
- Running against critical race theory and other alleged leftist teachings was a winner for Glenn Youngkin in
Virginia, but not all voters are fooled by this red herring. A Wisconsin attempt to recall several school board members
in the Milwaukee suburb of Mequon-Thiensville got national attention and featured over $50,000 in spending (an insane
amount for a school board race of any sort). Ultimately, the recall
as all four members kept their posts by margins of 20% or more.
- The biggest issue on the Maine ballot was Question 1, which centers on the creation of a major power line from
Quebec through northern Maine, a line meant to carry energy generated by hydroelectrics. The issue did not break down
along clear party lines, as some perceived it as a power grab, others a giveaway to corporate interests, still others as
a boon for the environment (clean energy!), and some as an anti-environment project (despoiling Maine's forests!).
Proponents and opponents combined to spend $60 million, a veritable fortune in The Pine Tree State. Ultimately, Question
60% to 40%, which theoretically means that construction on the power line will stop (pending many lawsuits). It is a
reminder that even if Democrats get some sort of green energy package through Congress, that is just one battle, and
doesn't mean the war is won.
- While "defund the police" was not a winner on Tuesday, neither was "refund the police," at least not in Austin, TX.
Several readers, including K.R. in Austin and R.L.D. in Sundance, WY, brought to our attention
the defeat of Proposition A,
which would have funded the hiring of more police, 68.4% to 31.6%. It's a limited sample size, but the general sentiment
seems to be that many Americans don't want "more of the same" from their police departments, but they don't want radical
change, either. Since "defund the police" isn't actually all that radical, even though it sounds like it is, this looks
an awful lot like a messaging issue.
- On the other hand, ballot initiatives meant to increase housing inventory, especially affordable housing inventory,
coast to coast. That could be an opportunity for Democrats.
- Coloradans decided that they don't want to cut property taxes but also that they don't want to increase marijuana taxes. Hopes that legal weed will be a major profit center for the state government are going, going, ganj.
We will see what else pops up as the dust settles a little more. (Z)
As is always the case the day after an election, there were lots of "takeaways" pieces yesterday. Here is a selection:
- Democrats see worst fears in Virginia
- Youngkin shows the GOP the way
- Targeting education on race
- Liberal voting laws aren't bad for GOP
- New Jersey also scares Democrats
- Don't overinterpret
- Revenge of the Parents
- Biden Is a Millstone around Democrats' Necks
- Youngkin Showed How to Successfully Walk the Trump Tightrope
- Turns Out Virginia Isn't as Blue without Trump
- 2022 Could Be a Bloodbath for Democrats
- Youngkin's success across the state offers a GOP pathway
- All politics are presidential. But Biden loomed larger than Trump
- The GOP margins make it even more worrisome for Democrats in 2022
- The political middle still matters
- Democratic ideological factions face off in cities
- Virginia had trended blue—and then Tuesday happened
- Republicans can focus on economy and education
- Making it all about Trump didn't work
- Voters may have moved on from COVID-19
- New Jersey's tight race is a bad omen for Democrats
- Elections still work
- Voters rejected ambitious police reform in Minneapolis
- Mixed messages for Democrats in mayoral races
- Donald Trump isn't the bogeyman he once was
- The suburbs are back in play
- "Wokeness" is a major problem
- People know who's in charge—and they don't like what they see
- The Republican base is on fire
- Bad news—and omens—for Democrats
- A road map for the GOP after(?) Trump
- The pivotal school issue
- Setbacks for the far-left
- It's a bad omen for Democrats' hopes in 2022
- The suburbs are still swing areas
- Republicans may have figured out a way to run in the post-Trump era
- Democrats need an answer on education and race
- Demographics aren't necessarily destiny
- A sharp rebuke for Biden
- Democrats have a lot of work to do
- A new template for Republican victories
- Culture wars keep getting hotter
- Trump claims credit
- The suburbs swing back
- Rural America roars again
- Democrats' missing message
- High turnout won't save Democrats
- Progressives have a problem
So, the recurring themes are: (1) the Democrats in general, and Joe Biden and the progressives in particular, got smacked upside the head; (2) the Democrats need to work a lot on their pitch, which needs to have something beyond wokeness and "Trump bad"; and (3) Republicans got a lot of good news in the form of a potential post-Trump playbook furnished by Glenn Youngkin, issues that seem to be working for them like education, and success in the suburbs. (Z)
Quite a few prominent politicians and pundits spent some time thinking about what happened on Tuesday, and have shared their ideas as to the "lesson(s)" of the evening. Here is a selection of those:
- President Joe Biden
the result in Virginia, in particular, is not a repudiation of him, and that it was due to voters' frustration over
Congressional gridlock: "What I do know is, I do know that people want us to get things done. They want us to get things
done. And that's why I am continuing to push very hard for the Democratic party to move along and pass my infrastructure
bill and my Build Back Better bill."
unnamed, but high-ranking Biden adviser
the Democrats can't just run against Donald Trump, and that Terry McAuliffe in particular did not say enough about what
he would do for people if reelected as governor: "It's incumbent on Democrats to be loud and clear about what we're for
and not just running against Donald Trump."
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
the Democrats misread the electorate: "The results from different parts of our country demonstrate that this was in
large part a referendum on national issues. But it's not too late. Democrats should listen to the voters: drop this
reckless taxing and spending spree, and stop trying to ram through a socialist transformation that the American people
never asked for."
Tim Kaine (D-VA) agrees with Biden that Congress
is to blame
for Tuesday's poor results, particularly those in Virginia: "Look, congressional Democrats hurt Terry McAuliffe. Our
inability to come together and get a result hurt him."
Joe Manchin (D-WV) predictably
Democrats were punished for going too far, too fast with their spending plans: "I've been saying this for many, many
months, people have concerns, people are concerned. And for us to go down a path that we've been going and trying to
accelerate it and it has been slowed down. I think we need to take our time and do it right."
- Former Representative
who at least used to be a Democrat,
her (former?) party for being out of touch: "McAuliffe's loss is a victory for all Americans. Why? Because it was a
resounding rejection of efforts to divide us by race, the stripping of parental rights, and arrogant, deaf leaders. This
benefits us all." Seems like the audition for a spot on Fox is ongoing.
- Democratic strategist
who is definitely still a Democrat, partly concurred with Gabbard and
laid the blame
at the feet of "wokeness": "What went wrong was this stupid wokeness. Don't just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look
at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Washington. I mean, this defund the police
lunacy, this 'take Abraham Lincoln's name off schools,' people see that."
- Republican strategist
voters were rebelling against the plans of Democrats in Washington: "The Democrats woke up this morning really afraid,
and as the numbers keep coming in, I gotta believe that they're having a stroke right now understanding that the public,
when given the chance, [is] voting 'no' on what they're trying to accomplish."
- Right-wing Fox pundit
the issue was...Christopher Columbus: "Don't you think that some of the Italian vote in New Jersey got a little sick of
the attacks on Christopher Columbus? I'm sorry, nobody's talked about that, but I have a lot of friends in Bergen County
and they're like, 'People were killing each other, it was a horrible time,' but they really took offense to the attacks
on Columbus and Columbus Day. I know it's just a small issue, but I kept hearing that all day long from people."
- Left-wing CNN pundit Van Jones pointed the finger at complacency: "I think that, you know, the Democratic Party, I mean, everybody that I'm talking to tonight, there's a—this is a big, big wake-up call. I think people took Virginia for granted. We took California for granted, but then people, you know, got in there and saved Gavin."
A lot of strong opinions, and we present them for your consideration. However, do keep this in mind: There is not a single thing on this list, with the possible exception of Van Jones' assessment, and that of the anonymous Biden advisor, that these people were not saying before Tuesday's election. So, one could reasonably argue that these folks aren't really assessing the election at all, they are just using it as fodder to advance their already-held positions. (Z)
You've had the takeaways, and you've heard what some prominent folks think (or claim to think), now that they've had a day to digest. Let's conclude with what we think, having examined Tuesday's results.
To start, when it comes to predicting the national climate, there are really two data points getting all the attention: The Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections. That's not very many data points, though they probably are the two most instructive ones. Here is a comparison of how the states voted for president last year, and how they voted for governor this year:
|State||Biden 2020||Trump 2020||Margin 2020||Dem. Gov. 2021||Rep. Gov. 2021||Margin 2021||Total Shift|
|New Jersey||57.3%||41.4%||D+15.9||50.2%||49.0%||D+1.2||14.7 points|
Those are pretty similar shifts, particularly if the late votes in New Jersey add a couple of points to Phil Murphy's total. That suggests, at least as much as a small sample size can, that it wasn't just Terry McAuliffe, and that there was a national shift in the direction of the Republicans.
Where did those flipped votes come from? Well, both Republican gubernatorial candidates outperformed Donald Trump across pretty much all demographics. However, the one that most clearly sticks out is the shift among noncollege white women in Virginia:
|Biden 2020||Trump 2020||Margin 2020||Dem. Gov. 2021||Rep. Gov. 2021||Margin 2021||Total Shift|
No public entity seems to have collected this particular bit of data for New Jersey, but we bet the Democratic Party has it, and that the trend there was similar to the one in Virginia.
The most consequential potential implication of this is that the Democrats' success in the suburbs was somewhat illusory, only existing as long as the pu**y grabbing Donald Trump was on the ballot. If the blue team ends up as the party only of cities, and Republicans resume their dominance of both suburbs and rural areas, then Congress isn't going to be in Democratic control again for a very long time.
If Democrats do conclude that their problems are with white noncollege women, many of whom live in the suburbs, then that suggests a pretty clear plan of action. They need to come up with an alternative to defund the police, pronto, since if it's not playing in liberal cities like Seattle and Minneapolis, it's definitely not playing in suburbia. They also need to figure out a response to the Republicans' new "education" platform, which is built almost entirely on boogeymen. What that response might be, we do not know, but they might start with a congressional resolution that says: "We oppose the teaching of critical race theory to any student who is not of college age, as it is clearly not appropriate for those who are younger." Republicans in Congress would pretty much have to vote for it, and it wouldn't be a policy change (since CRT is already not taught to non-college students), nor would it be a falsehood (since CRT really isn't apropos for younger students, inasmuch as it's a very advanced level of analysis).
Perhaps most obviously, however, the blue team may need to recalibrate the reconciliation bill. In particular, paid maternity leave is currently on the cutting-room floor. Tuesday's results suggest that it needs to be put back immediately, even if some other priority has to go by the wayside.
We continue to caution against reading too much into a small number of elections that attracted the votes of a smaller, possibly not representative subset of the electorate. Recall that 2,438,797 people voted in New Jersey this year, as compared to 4,491,609 in 2020, while in Virginia it was 3,279,642 this year versus 4,375,998 last year. It could be as simple as "Republicans are enthusiastic right now and Democrats aren't."
That said, if Democrats are looking to take something specific from Tuesday, beyond the obvious (work on messaging, get something done in Washington), then doing whatever it takes to keep suburban women voters in the blue column would appear to us to be the lesson. (Z)
If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.
- firstname.lastname@example.org For questions about politics, civics, history, etc. to be answered on a Saturday
- email@example.com For "letters to the editor" for possible publication on a Sunday
- firstname.lastname@example.org To tell us about typos or factual errors we should fix
- email@example.com For general suggestions, ideas, etc.
To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.
Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov03 No Garden State Stomp
Nov03 Meanwhile, Here's What the Rest of the Country Decided
Nov03 Trump 2024 Is Right on Track
Nov03 A Tempest in a Vaxxpot
Nov03 JFK, Jr. Is Still Dead
Nov02 The Story of 1/6 Just Keeps Getting Worse...
Nov02 ...While Anti-Democracy Views Are Taking Hold
Nov02 Today's the Day in Virginia...
Nov02 ...And in Other States, Of Course
Nov02 Supreme Court Hears Arguments about Texas Abortion Law
Nov01 The Virginia Election is Tomorrow
Nov01 Four Cities Will Choose New Mayors Tomorrow
Nov01 Will Minneapolis Kill the Police Department?
Nov01 Democrats Are Trying to Pass the Two Infrastructure Bills by Tomorrow
Nov01 Will Women Be Angry at the Democrats Due to Paid Leave Being Cut?
Nov01 Biden's Approval Sinks to 42%
Nov01 Adam Kinzinger Won't Seek Reelection
Nov01 Letitia James is Officially Running for Governor
Nov01 Many Jan. 6 Rioters Are Running for Public Office Now
Nov01 Missouri AG Files Suit Against Vaccine Mandate
Nov01 North Carolina Releases Its New House Map
Nov01 Susan Collins Casts Her 8,000th Vote in the Senate
Oct31 Sunday Mailbag
Oct30 Saturday Q&A
Oct29 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Oct29 What Is Kyrsten Sinema Doing?
Oct29 Joe to Meet with Jorge
Oct29 This Week's 2022 Candidate News
Oct29 Fox Weather Channel Sloganeering, Part I
Oct29 This Week in Schadenfreude
Oct29 Back to the Back to the Future, Part XII: Other
Oct28 The Sausage Making Continues
Oct28 Former Trump Staffers Are Spilling the Beans
Oct28 McConnell Concedes and Endorses Herschel Walker
Oct28 Trump Endorsees Have Troubled Histories
Oct28 Biden Nominates and Senate Confirms Two Top Trump Targets
Oct28 Secretaries of State Targeted by Trump Are Scared to Death
Oct28 Top Washington Republican Election Official Joins Biden Administration
Oct28 Three New Gubernatorial Candidates Are In
Oct28 Is "Evangelical" Just a Synonym for "Republican"?
Oct27 The Democrats' Nightmare Situation?
Oct27 The Democrats' Dream Situation?
Oct27 Let's Go Brandon
Oct27 This Is How They Do It in Brazil
Oct27 Mort Sahl, 1927-2021
Oct27 Fox to Launch Weather Channel
Oct27 Back to the Back to the Future, Part XI: Domestic Affairs
Oct26 The Insurrection Will Soon Be Televised
Oct26 Some Presidents Get to Keep Their Secrets, Others Don't