From the early days of the feminist awakening of the 1970s on down to Monday, the expression “sisterhood is powerful” seemed more of an unfulfilled ideal than a prophesy realized. No more. Although we don’t have solid data yet showing the impact of women voters on midterms outcomes, a top priority of the women’s rights agenda got a huge boost on Tuesday. As Amelia Thomson-Deveaux writes at FiveThirtyEight: “Results are still pending in some key states like Arizona, but Democrats won many contests that will shape abortion access for the next few years — and in some cases, much longer. Abortion-rights supporters managed to enshrine the right to abortion in three state constitutions, including the crucial state of Michigan, where a near-total ban on abortion from 1931 has been tangled up in court battles for months. And supporters notched another consequential win in Kentucky, where a majority of the state’s voters opposed a ballot measure that would have explicitly clarified that abortion rights was not protected under the state constitution….These are significant victories for Democrats and abortion-rights supporters, particularly as Democrats faced significant headwinds on other topics important to Americans. That success almost certainly means abortion will remain a defining political issue as the 2024 presidential race looms on the horizon. There will be plenty of opportunities for Democrats to push their message: Abortion-rights activists now have momentum to push for ballot measures like the one that passed in Michigan, perhaps in states with active or pending bans like Ohio, Oklahoma and Missouri. And candidates may see this week’s results as evidence they need to talk more about abortion than they may have otherwise.”
Thomson-Deveaux adds that, “the unpopularity of the Supreme Court’s decision isn’t just registering in polls – it’s also reshaping the country’s political landscape…abortion did make it to the ballot in five states – Michigan, Vermont, California, Kentucky and Montana – and although we don’t have final results everywhere, abortion-rights supporters appear poised to sweep the board.” However, Thomson-Deveaux notes that “turning the general air of displeasure about extreme abortion bans into electoral victories could be tricky for Democrats in red states like Kentucky. Many anti-abortion candidates were also elected in races across the country last night, too — so simply prioritizing abortion doesn’t necessarily translate into support for Democrats.” Yet, “In key purple states, though, abortion rights seem to have lifted Democratic candidates, and although some races are still outstanding, Democrats have already won most of the state-level races that will shape abortion access going forward. In Pennsylvania, where Republican legislators were making noises about stricter abortion bans, Democrat Josh Shapiro won the governor’s race handily, defeating an opponent who was one of the most ardent anti-abortion advocates in the statehouse….We’ll keep looking into how abortion shaped the results of the midterms in the coming days. But for now, it’s clear that the Dobbs decision did turn abortion into one of the most salient issues in the country — which means you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it as the 2024 presidential campaign creaks into gear.”
Nate Silver explains why “Candidate Quality Mattered,” also at FiveThirtyEight: “For one thing, just look at the large difference between Senate and gubernatorial results in states with both types of races on the ballot. In the nine states with battleground1 Senate races in states that also had a gubernatorial race on the ballot, there were significant discrepancies between the performance of the candidates. We could wind up with as many as five of the nine states where one party wins the governorship and the other wins the Senate race. It’s already happened in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It could happen in Nevada and Arizona depending how the remaining vote comes in. And it will also happen in Georgia if Democrat Raphael Warnock wins the Dec. 6 runoff after Republican Brian Kemp comfortably won the gubernatorial race….And even in states where there weren’t split-ticket winners, there were still big gaps in candidate performance. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, won reelection by nearly 26 percentage points at the same time the GOP Senate candidate, J.D. Vance, won by just 6.2 In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman did well enough in the U.S. Senate race against Mehmet Oz, but Josh Shapiro nonetheless won by a much larger margin against Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial contest….In the 2018 midterms, the results in a number of major Senate races also significantly diverged from the partisan lean of the state. Republicans nominated a series of inexperienced Senate candidates, and such candidates tend to underperform statewide benchmarks.” It appears primary meddling was an effective way for Democratic political campaigns to reduce candidate quality of Republicans in the midterms.
Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. shares his early take on the midterm elections, arguing that “Republicans failed to put forward anything that could be considered a governing agenda….The consensus seemed to be that the GOP had run a very disciplined campaign focused on inflation and crime, with attacks on Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) layered in to fertilize discontent….It didn’t work, partly because Republicans offered nothing in the way of solutions to the problems they were bemoaning. They also fudged what was supposed to be an issue of high principle, fleeing in horror from the abortion question once they realized how much anger a right-wing Supreme Court had inspired by overturning Roe v. Wade….Their evasion didn’t help them. Exit polls showed that three-quarters of voters who cast ballots on abortion backed Democrats. And the GOP’s inability to specify what the party might do with power undercut Republicans on the issues that were supposed to be their salvation….It’s probably too much to hope that Democratic success will tamp down warfare between the party’s progressive and centrist wings. But both sides would do well to acknowledge a core fact of political life: Democrats win only when they can unite the left and the center. Democrats needed the turnout and the 88 percent vote share they won from the slightly more than a quarter of the electorate that described itself as liberal. But they also needed the 54 percent they won among the one-third of voters who said they were moderate….For all the good news for Democrats, the fact remains that the outcome of this election is up in the air. Many House seats and the decisive Senate seats remain undecided. Republicans could yet emerge with very narrow control of the House and possibly the Senate. A Republican Congress would make governing hell over the next two years….But even if it does gain a share of power, the GOP will have to reckon with how its fealty to Trump and trafficking with extremists is lethal, and how voters demand more from their politicians than rage. After six years of bowing, scraping and blustering, you wonder whether Republicans have any capacity for introspection left in them.”