Extremely Cautiously Optimistic

There is a long way between here and Election Day, let alone any possible shenanigans afterwards, but I’m feeling extremely cautiously optimistic and I’d like to share my thoughts on that topic with you today.

For some time now I’ve been among the many who expect the Democrats to take back the House. While that is not a guarantee – like a paraphrased old Yogism, nothing is over until it’s over – I still feel that way. I am less certain of the Senate and the presidency.

Let’s look at the Senate first. In order to maintain control, the Democrats have to at least break even if Donald Trump wins or experience a net loss of less than two seats if the Biden-Harris ticket is again victorious. West Virginia is gone as a hold and the only possible Democratic pickups I see (Florida and Texas) are longshots. Therefore, holding on to the upper chamber with a Biden loss is not looking rosy.

Ohio will be a battle regardless of who the Republican candidate is but an eleventh-hour scandal, (the validity and origins of which are somewhat in dispute as of this writing), has arisen for the Trump endorsed candidate. The are a lot of branches in that decision tree but none of them enhance the Republicans’ chances of a pickup. The Buckeye State Republicans hold their senatorial primary tomorrow but in any event the cloud can’t be good for the victor.

In Arizona former Democrat (but still caucusing with them) and now independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema declared that she would not seek reelection. That clears the way for what should be a Ruben Gallego- Kari Lake one-on-one contest. The Democrat Gallego’s chances are better in that than a three-way race.

It is still way too early to call anything in the Senate but the above coupled with a few factors that I will cover below make the outlook less gloomy for the Democrats.

The state Republican parties are in disarray in several states, some of them are also holding Senate races. That does not speak well for their candidates in those states. Arizona and Michigan are among them. Both are battlegrounds in the presidential race in addition to having Senate seats up in 2024.

Many primaries are still to be held but the Republicans, strongly influenced by Trump, are already running extremists down ballot in several of them. My home state of North Carolina is a prime example with a nutcase as the GOP Gubernatorial candidate who is only made to appear sane by an even more zany Republican candidate to run the state’s educational system. Trump needs to hold North Carolina which he won by a narrow margin in 2020 and these candidates won’t help his cause in the Tar Heel state.

Going back to Arizona for a bit, Kari Lake isn’t exactly your father’s Republican party stereotypical candidate. In fact, she is still claiming the 2022 election was rigged and that she is the true Governor of Arizona. The loonies will play well with Trump voters but I have a difficult time seeing them bringing in marginal voters.

I know I’m somewhat blurring the line between senatorial and presidential but that is the reality the voters will face.

The Trump takeover of the RNC with an almost immediate purge, largely of people who actually knew what they were doing, will hurt the party, especially its down ballot candidates. The RNC is broke and now Trump wants to syphon whatever funds they have/raise. That will leave precious few resources (financial or operationally) for other GOP candidates.

The biggest example of a politically ignorant Trump sycophant takeover is that the GOP is abandoning its absentee vote campaign. If you go back prior to 2010 – and few of the Tea Party/MAGA types do – the GOP always held a huge advantage in the mail in vote. It just makes sense to bank the early/mail in/absentee vote. For example, I like to in person early vote. The reality is that you never know what will happen on Election Day. You may be ill, the car may decide to take a day off, etc. As a political operative why wouldn’t you want those votes “in the bank” before the polls open on Election Day?

My final factor is the “reemergence” of Vice President Harris. She has been the target of criticism, much of it from fellow Democrats – I must admit I’m not certain why – but nonetheless the criticism existed. It got to the point that many were opening calling on Biden to consider replacing her on the ticket. (That was never going to happen!) In the wake of Dobbs and many extremely unpopular related Republican actions and statements, the women’s vote is more critical than ever. I expect women’s turnout (which since 1980 has been higher than men’s) to be at a record level in 2024 and I expect it to skew Democratic by its widest margin. Harris is making that her primary mission and as a woman she is in a great position to do it. What many considered one of Biden’s biggest liabilities (and expect Republicans to continue to “play that song”) may well turn out to be his “secret weapon”.

To sum it up I’m not about to “count my chickens” but I’m feeling a little better about things than I did even a few weeks ago. The bottom line hasn’t changed. Nobody is going to save America and democracy other than you. Vote!!!!!!

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