Culture is king.
I was confident that a Red Wave was going to hit in the midterms. I assumed that Republicans would easily take back the House and probably win a few Senate seats. I was wrong.
This wasn’t a normal midterm election. The Red Wave crashed into cultural balkanization, redistricting, millions of dollars in negative advertising, an Election Season in key swing states and a major backlash against the Dobbs decision and Trump’s claims about the 2020 election.
As things stand today, Republicans are still winning the popular vote by around 4 percent. 52,142,213 people voted Republican. 47,127,174 people voted Democrat. There was a Red Wave in 2022 and it is going to translate into a Congress that is split nearly 50/50. How did this happen?
How did I get this so wrong?
In my own state, I didn’t get this wrong. It was a great year for Republicans.
Kay Ivey was reelected governor with 67.4% of the vote. She won in 2018 with 59.6% of the vote. She picked up another 7.8% of the vote. In my home county, Kay Ivey won Barbour County by 59.5% in 2022 compared to 52.3% in 2018. She flipped Tuscaloosa, Marengo and Russell County.
In the U.S. Senate, Katie Britt won easily with 66.8% of the vote.
In the House, Republicans easily swept every House race. The swings from the 2020 election were R+56 in AL-01, R+10.7 in AL-02, R+12.1 in AL-03, R+8.9 in AL-04, R+10.7 in AL-05, R+59.4 in AL-06 and R+2.6 in AL-07. Republicans won by greater margins everywhere.
Republicans won the Lt. Governor and Attorney General races.
Alabama Republicans retained the supermajority in the state legislature and picked up more seats at the local level. In the words of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, “I didn’t anticipate that there would be that poor of a performance among Democrats statewide. It was the worst in the history of this state. It’s not even close.” Alabama had the lowest turnout in a midterm in 36 years. Democrats weren’t inspired to vote after electing Doug Jones to the Senate in 2017.
There were no screw ups in Alabama. There was no fraud. It was a normal election and the results were reported on time and the outcome was known almost instantly. Nothing changed.
Next door in Mississippi, it was a similar story. Nothing changed.
There was even less going on … no governor race, no U.S. Senate race and state legislature elections are next year. Mississippi had the lowest voter turnout in the country. Only 31.1% of eligible voters showed up. Republicans easily won 3 out of 4 House races. Bennie Thompson was reelected in the Mississippi Delta. The swings from the 2020 election were R+13.2 in MS-01, R+6.8 in MS-02, R+17.6 in MS-03 and R+12.3 in MS-04. There were no screw ups in Mississippi. It was an uneventful night.
Over in Louisiana, the status quo also prevailed.
John Kennedy was reelected to the U.S. Senate with 61.6% of the vote and won every parish in the state except Orleans Parish. Republicans won 5 out of 6 House seats. The swings from the 2020 election were R+8.1 in LA-01, D+1.4 in LA-02, R+20.4 in LA-03, R+75.9 in LA-04, R+21.5 in LA-05 and R+53.3 in LA-06. Turnout in Louisiana was 41.4% which was slightly down from the 2018 midterms.
Why start here?
Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are Deep South states.
These states all have full abortion bans, large black populations and large populations of White evangelical Protestants. They are all culturally Southern. Republicans dominated all three states. Abortion was on the ballot and there was no major backlash against the Dobbs decision.
Note: It is a peculiar type of White voter who is animated by abortion.