• A lot has already been said here and elsewhere about the election, but this chart, showing turnout for this midterm the highest since 1970, is interesting:
What was happening in 1970? Oh yeah, the Vietnam War protest movement was in full swing, and the Democratic Party, then as today, essentially rejected the legitimacy of Nixon’s election victory of 1968, and were riding that era’s version of “the resistance.” I forget where, but I did read a smart piece several months ago that said the 1970 midterm was perhaps the parallel for this one, and I think that is right in some ways. Nixon, for his part, campaigned hard for Republicans in that midterm just like Trump and for the same reason, and minimized GOP losses.
The huge surge in overall turnout does suggest, however, that the American electorate does understand that we are currently in the midst of a serious contest over the meaning and direction of the country.
• Accosting Acosta: Speaking of events from the 1970s, the era of showboating and bad behavior by White House reporters may trace back to the press conference where Nixon playfully said to CBS reporter Dan Rather, “Are you running for something?”, whereupon the unctuous Rather said sarcastically back: “No, Mr. President—are you?” Ah, the good old days. Acosta’s antics make Rather look rather gentlemanly by comparison.
I’m ambivalent about taking Costa’s all-access pass to the White House away. He is without question the most egregious “journalist” in the White House, but part of me thinks if Acosta didn’t exist, we’d need to invent him. He’s quite useful for Trump to have around, exposing the mendacity and self-regarding partisanship of the media on a daily basis. I’m almost tempted to suggest that Trump ought to call a press conference and let Acosta ask all the questions, which would go poorly for Acosta, and also make the rest of the White House press corp resent Acosta. I say let that man make a fool of himself for as long as he wants.
• Winning is better than losing, and the loss of the House will have consequences. Though I note the stock market roared today, probably in part because it likes gridlock, which, as I said yesterday, is the next best thing to constitutional government. Ignore the partisan cheerleaders on either side. Just take in what some of the smarter liberals in the media are saying: there is no way this election result can be said to represent any kind of massive rejection of Trump or Republicans.
Exhibit 1, David Leonhardt of the New York Times: “Last night did not feel like a thorough rejection of Trumpism. In one statewide race after another, Democrats suffered disappointing losses.”
Exhibit 2: Damon Linker in The Week:
Look beyond a few dozen House races, and it’s clear there is no blue wave sweeping across the country, toppling Republican power from coast to coast with a historic surge of opposition to the president’s party. Or rather, even if there was such a surge, it was matched by a counter-surge from the right that was strong enough to blunt it. . . No sign that a firm, solid, decisive majority has repudiated President Trump. . .
Exhibit 3, The Hill:
For a number of reasons, Democrats are coming away unsatisfied. They were hoping for a resounding rejection of Trump, who is touting the election results as a “tremendous success.” . . . The red wave promised by Trump, which attracted mockery earlier this year, showed up in states such as Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota where Democratic Senate candidates were swamped.
Democrats lost gubernatorial contests in both Florida and Ohio, arguably the most important swing states in a presidential election. Both will be led in 2020 by Republicans who won their races thanks in part to Trump.
• About the ballot propositions around the country that I said you should watch. California continued its suicide attempt by voting down a repeal of the gas tax hike, and while the state still had the good sense to reject rent control, San Francisco did adopt Measure C, the tax on large businesses to fund “homeless services.”
Washington state voters rejected a carbon tax handily, and most “green energy” initiatives around the country failed, even as voters went for liberal politicians. Also, keep in mind that several of the GOP House members who lost, like Carlos Cabella of Florida, were among the tiny handful of GOP congresscritters who expressed openness to carbon taxes or other climate policy enthusiasms.
Florida voters passed an initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Well done, Florida People. I might even cut you a break in the next Week in Pictures.
• P.S. We all remember how the Democratic Party’s hard turn to the left worked out for them in 1972. Chances are good for a repeat in 2020.