It's only going to get wilder
Join the gang tonight on Zoom to watch the returns come in from across the country starting at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Bulwark+ Exclusive. (So sign up now.)
Really, no one knows what’s going to happen, so most of the punditry today will be like trying to ride a bicycle as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible without falling off. We can look forward to hours of fact-free faux-certainty clashing with wish-casting, speculation, bursts of hysteria, endless repetition… and then we’ll get the exit polls. Which are almost certainly going to be bullsh*t.
Nobody really knows anything.
But even with all of the knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns out there (thank you, Donald Rumsfeld), there are some things to keep in mind:
*The phrase “it all comes down to turnout,” is a hoary and dumb cliché — but it is a cliché precisely because it is, of course, completely true. Really, it’s the political equivalent of a sports commentator saying that “this game will be decided by the points on the scoreboard.” And, well, that’s absolutely right. Every time.
*It won’t be over tonight. Yes, it could be a blowout and we could all go to bed by 10 o’clock, but it’s also quite likely that we won’t know the outcome of some key races until tomorrow, maybe not for days. Legal challenges in key states could go on for weeks. And, remember, Georgia’s senate race (which could decide who controls the upper body) will be headed for a run-off if no one gets 50 percent of the vote.)
*Because some states — looking at you Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — intentionally delay the counting of mail-in votes, there may a “red mirage” again, followed by a surge of late-breaking Democratic votes. And you know what that means.
*There might be chaos. Remember, the election denialists have been warming up for two years — or more. Republicans are expecting a massive “Red Wave,” and if it doesn’t develop, expect “Stop the Steal Mid-term Edition.” Via Political Nightly (you should subscribe):
All the elements of a perfect storm are present: a rise in threats against election administrators and poll workers; outdated and overstrained election infrastructure; a brain drain of officials experienced with the complexities of administering elections; external cyber threats; and an abundance of close races that could extend long past Election Day as mail-in and provisional ballots are counted, recounted and litigated.
Then, there are the hundreds of Republican candidates up and down the ballot with a record of denying or expressing doubts about the 2020 presidential results — a few were even present at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. At least a dozen candidates running in competitive Senate and governor and secretary of state contests refused to commit or declined to respond when asked whether they’ll accept the results of their races.
A blowout Republican victory might remove many of the most combustible elements. But short of a red wave Tuesday, we’re looking at an ugly finish.
I had some thoughts:
So Happy Tuesday! And make sure you get out and vote.
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Remember the Russia Hoax?
.. you know, the Russian election interference that really didn’t happen because… whataboutHunterslaptop or something?
Well, look at this: “Putin ally admits interfering in US elections.”
A close ally of Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia has meddled in U.S. elections — and will continue to do so.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman and the founder of the mercenary Wagner Group — whose members have been at the forefront of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine — made the admission on Russian social network Vkontakte.
Asked by a journalist whether Russia was interfering in the U.S. midterms on November 8, Prigozhin answered: “Gentlemen, we interfered, we interfere and we will interfere,” adding “carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how.”
Piling on Elon
Think I was too hard on the World’s Richest Man-Baby yesterday? Check out Charlie Warzel’s latest piece in the Atlantic: “Elon Musk Is Bad At This.”
Musk’s fans see the billionaire as a visionary, but it’s worth noting that many casual observers—people whose only real understanding of Musk is as the guy who put the fancy electric cars on their streets—have also internalized the heuristic that he is Good at Business and the type of man who spends his waking moments dreaming of how to save humanity from its existential problems. But what the past two weeks demonstrate is that Musk is, at best, a mediocre executive—and undoubtedly a terrible, distracted manager.
1. Case After Case After Case: The GOP Keeps Suing to Toss Out Midterm Ballots
Make sure you read Kim Wehle in today’s Bulwark. This story explains why I decided not to try mail-in voting this year, and why I’ll spend my afternoon standing in line:
In Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Waukesha County sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission, but managed to secure a temporary restraining order banning the use of a “guidance” document for election workers. The document addressed what to do when voters provide incomplete information on the absentee ballot certificate envelopes—specifically, when the address of the person who witnessed them cast their ballot is missing or incomplete. That’s right. The gripe is not about the actual voter’s information—it’s instead about the details of the address of the individual who served as a witness. The guidance told election officials that they were allowed to fill in missing information if they have a reliable source. The Wisconsin GOP claimed it was “harmed” by this. The courts agreed. On September 13, the commission withdrew its guidance following a ruling prohibiting it from providing any such advice. Voters, for their part, were left to fend for themselves to ensure their votes weren’t canceled on that technicality.
2. Yes, Democrats Have Called Some Elections Illegitimate. GOP Election Denialism Is Far Worse.
Our in-house expert on whataboutism, Cathy Young, looks at election denialism by both parties. It’s not even close.
Have politicians (and other public figures) from both parties made ill-advised, and sometimes entirely spurious, statements questioning the legitimacy of elections that favored the other party? Yes, they have, and it’s a bad and toxic habit. In particular, there are good reasons to be harshly critical of some Democratic claims casting aspersions on election integrity in the United States, and the Democratic party needs to so some serious soul-searching on the subject. But the GOP’s post-2020 election denialism is in an entirely different league4. It is vastly more toxic. And it is uniquely dangerous.
3. Is the Man Who Attacked Paul Pelosi a Leftist?
Some on the far right are sure of it,—along with lots of other things that are demonstrably untrue. Bill Lueders in today’s Bulwark:
DePape, a Canadian citizen, was in the United States illegally, having long overstayed the typical six-month visitation limit in place for our neighbors to the north. He could, at the end of any prison sentence he receives, be deported. And, as the Washington Post reported, DePape “was known in Berkeley as a pro-nudity activist who had picketed naked at protests against local ordinances requiring people to be clothed in public.”
But none of this says anything about his political ideology. Being a nudist does not make one a leftist any more than being a swinger and using personal ads to solicit trysts with other couples and “muscular well-hung single men” makes Trump confidant Roger Stone a Democrat. In fact, the ideas that motivated DePape are hardly a mystery. He is a pro-Trump, QAnon conspiracy-supporting, stone-cold racist.
4. What Ails the American Male?
Mona Charen takes a look at the new book by Richard Reeves:
Of Boys and Men
Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It
by Richard V. Reeves
Brookings, 242 pp., $28.99
As a culture, we remain stubbornly attached to the notion that girls and women need encouragement, special programs, and remedial measures to bring them into full equality with males in school, in the workplace, in sports—well, pretty much everywhere. There is nothing wrong with that, but as Reeves and a handful of others have observed over the last two decades, this focus is significantly out of date.
In reality, girls are outperforming boys in education—and not by a little. As Reeves observes, girls now account for 66 percent of high schoolers ranked in the top 10 percent of their classes, while boys comprise a similar percentage of those in the bottom decile. Girls are more likely than boys to be enrolled in AP and IB classes, and more likely to graduate on time than boys. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation is huge. In the United States, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees now go to women, as well as three out of five master’s degrees, and the majority of doctorates (though men still strongly dominate Ph.D.s in math, computer science, engineering, and the physical sciences).
Actually, we do know what will happen tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day, and onward. Here is your road map:
1) If the Republicans win, high turnout and established procedures say that there is election integrity. If not, the fix was in.
2) If the Republicans win, there will be a need for Congressional investigations -- lots of 'em. If not, they are unnecessarily divisive and are used as personal vendettas against Donald Trump and his supporters.
3) If the Republicans win, it is proof that polls are a reliable, accurate barometer of the public will. If not, they are worthless, pointless exercises that try to create a desired outcome.
4) If the Republicans win, the right-wing media did us a valuable service in getting out the message that voters needed to hear. If not, the left-wing media are mind-controlling scum who are traitors to America.
And, above all,
5) If the Republicans win, we should accept the results, move forward in unison, and put hyperpartisan bickering and fighting aside in favor of the greater good. If not, it is time to march, take up weapons, and set things right.
What could go wrong when upward of half the country decides that no rules apply to them that they choose not to observe, and no result is acceptable unless it is what they seek? Good luck getting them out of office once they are in, and have the tools to solidify their presence for a long time to come. We have been warned. Tonight will give us a better idea of how many people actually are listening.
Cathy Young’s (edit) article on the bothsiderism of election denial is excellent. For one thing, she starts by acknowledging there has been a bit of election denialism by the Dems. There has been, full stop.
That said, the base and pundits are purposely refusing to acknowledge that whining is different than a well-thought out and gamed attempt to methodically switch all the levers of political power to change the outcome of an election.
I’m truly hoping the bad-faith equivalency arguments are just to provide a fig-leaf cover. Because if partisans (and even everyday voters) cannot understand the difference between Stacey Abrams’ unhappiness and Donald Trump’s evil, we’re in very deep s%^t.