My big prediction about US politics came true - GulfToday

My big prediction about US politics came true

Raphael Warnock

Raphael Warnock

Eric Garcia, The Independent

Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia officially bookended perhaps the most topsy-turvy midterm election cycle of my lifetime.

The day afterward, I did a little obligatory gloating, tweeting about how I predicted the final results of his race against Herschel Walker to an accuracy of less than a point. After initially screwing up the math, I thought that Walker would keep it much tighter than expected, given that national and state Republicans were campaigning for him. But I failed to see how that could overcome Warnock’s significant advantage with early voting.

I was pretty proud of that one. But the truth is that for every outcome I correctly predicted, I whiffed far more races.

The day of the midterms, I wrote about how this cycle had humbled me, and left me less than confident predicting an outcome. At the same time, I count myself among the chronically online – and as a result, I tend to mouth off about whatever’s on my mind at any given moment. So, here are three things that I got wrong this year about US politics, and one thing I (kind of) got right.

Thinking Rick Scott would be an effective NRSC Chairman: A year ago this week, I sat down with Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to discuss his plan to win back the majority for the GOP. All the party needed was a net gain of one seat; with President Joe Biden’s popularity cratering and inflation rising, it seemed eminently manageable. I had particular reason to believe Scott might do well in the job: Before 2022, he had never lost a race since he first ran for governor in 2010, and had built his winning coalition largely via aggressive outreach to Latino voters (more on that below).

Then Scott actually took control of the NRSC. Stories flowed about his mismanagement of the campaign apparatus as he blew threw cash. In fairness to him, he had to bail out a ton of bad candidates who otherwise would have had to drop out or fail spectacularly early on, but he also stepped on a rake by not getting involved in primaries. Most bafflingly, he publicly picked a fight with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The results speak for themselves. Yet, after his faceplant, he still had the audacity to challenge McConnell for the position of minority leader.

Being too confident in Mandela Barnes — and then overselling his failure: The Wisconsin Senate was a two-for-one. Going into Ron Johnson’s re-election, I took a dim view of discussions about Democratic nominee Mandela Barnes being too liberal for the state. I thought Johnson’s record of promoting some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories about Covid-19 and vaccines — to say nothing of his hawkish attitude to Social Security — could come back to hurt him.

Then the anti-Barnes ads started flooding in. One lumped him in with Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar; another darkened his complexion. It was the aggression of that onslaught that changed my thinking, leaving me convinced Barnes would get blown out. I also should have expected that Johnson was a bit better at this campaign business, since he outran Donald Trump in Wisconsin in 2016.

Unfortunately, I got so bearish on Barnes that I tweeted a prediction that Johnson would win by five points. Well, it turned out he only won by one. Woof.

Thinking Democrats would continue to lose Latino voters: At this point, I’m a broken record on the Latino electorate. After Trump improved his margins with Latino voters in 2020 and given what I perceived to be Biden’s lackluster outreach to them, I thought that a poor economy, dissatisfaction with Biden’s record and rising inflation — all combined with the fact that Republicans in the House had recruited a number of Latino candidates, particularly in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas — meant that Republicans would significantly cut into Democrats’ margins.

It’s true that Republicans did well in South Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis won Miami-Dade County. That’s a feat that will certainly boost his credibility as a potential 2024 challenger to Trump. But Republicans only flipped one seat in the Rio Grande Valley, where Monica de La Cruz beat Michelle Vallejo — and even that defeat can also partially be attributed to Democrats cutting Vallejo off financially.

The Brookings Institution noted that while Republicans improved their standing with Latino voters by 5 per cent, that’s hardly a seismic change. Meanwhile, Democrats did well in the heavily Hispanic 8th district in Colorado, while Hispanic voters also propelled highly vulnerable Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto to a second term in Nevada. And in Arizona, Governor-elect Katie Hobbs was likely helped by a ballot initiative to give undocumented immigrants in-state tuition, while Senator Mark Kelly aggressively courted Latinos as he fended off gun-toting Trump-backed challenger Blake Masters.

Now here’s one thing I got right, even if I still messed up: The Roe v Wade overturn effect was real.

I’ve admitted that I initially made the wrong call on this: I thought that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson ruling, which overturned Roe v Wade, would have little to no effect on the midterms.

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