Gov. Gavin Newsom’s massive victory in California’s recall election is expected to sprinkle overheated predictions that Democrats will lose big in the 2022 midterm election. And that’s not the only source of hope for the Democratic Party .
Newsom’s victory surprised few in a state where the registered Democrats are almost 2 to 1, but the size of the victory – 64% to 36% – did. And of particular interest to Democrats around the world was Newsom’s ability to nationalize the election. California was reeling from the hideous fires and the relentless onslaught of COVID-19, but Newsom has spent the final days of the campaign denouncing Texas’ new abortion law.
The law practically prohibits abortion. More amazingly, it offers $ 10,000 in bonuses to any creep that reports anyone deemed to have helped a woman terminate a pregnancy in the past six weeks. The law’s slippery attempt to avoid federal judicial review is so offensive that many rightists have condemned it.
“Sometimes we wonder if Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (a Republican) is a progressive factory,” lamented a Wall Street Journal editorial board.
It’s no wonder Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat trying to reclaim his former governorship in Virginia, is now swearing to be a “brick wall” against any Texan-style abortion restrictions. His Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, stammers on this issue.
It’s the sort of thing that might prompt Democrats to run in droves for special elections and midterms – contests where Democratic turnout tends to drop significantly from presidential years. No wonder Democratic leaders are worried about the party’s ability to maintain a majority in the House and Senate. Adding to their concerns, the president’s party has traditionally lost ground in midterm elections.
But do these political assumptions still apply? It was assumed that Democrats couldn’t win two US Senate seats in Georgia, but look what happened. A major problem has been the attack by former President Donald Trump on the sanctity of the Georgian vote, which has slightly favored Joe Biden.
Outrage from the right continues to mount, dismaying many independents as well as Democrats. They include Republicans’ continued flogging of the dangerous lie that Biden failed to win the 2020 election – and a widespread refusal to take the January 6 criminal rampage on Capitol Hill seriously. Then there’s the crusade in Republican-led states to make voting more difficult for groups likely to support Democrats, with particular attention to blacks and Latinos.
In California, Larry Elder undoubtedly hurt his outlook by casting doubt on the results even before the results were released. His website, “StopCAFraud,” was a beautiful Trumpian blossoming but a stupid policy. To his credit, Elder graciously accepted defeat and urged his supporters to do the same.
The rejection of Biden’s victory appears to have partly prompted northeast Ohio Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez to announce that he would not stand for reelection. Gonzalez also cited threats against his family. Republicans can help Democrats more by replacing principled conservatives like Gonzalez with creepy populists with no fixed beliefs beyond selling their incendiary brand.
In November 2022, a strong economy could smile on Democrats. COVID-19 trauma is expected to make headlines by then – and the restrictions that cost service workers their jobs will be a thing of the past. These workers would include Latinos who switched to the Republican Party for this reason.
What happened in American politics before is happening less and less of late. Riding on the wings of Republican excess, Democrats may well navigate a surprisingly strong performance in 2022.