Midterms! Things For Which You Could Watch!

This song doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but it’s super pretty, and we could use that. It’s soothing and hopeful and maybe evokes the best of an America we need and NO I’M NOT DOING THIS JUST ENJOY THE SONG IT’S REALLY GREAT

In case you hadn’t heard, there are some fairly important elections today. At stake are several important local referendum, the control of governorships, and whether or not we enshrine the rule of a racist, xenophobic minority party in thrall to a tacky and cruel tin-pot Pol Pot and dedicated to stripping away democracy so they can permanently institute an earth-swallowing Age of Plutocrats in which workers are ground into dust for capitalism’s orgiastic endgame.

Here in Evanston, we’re also debating whether a big house should stay a big house or be turned into a dune.

There’s a lot to watch for tonight, both in individual races and in big-picture stuff. Let’s go through some of it! (parentheticals for individual races will be RCP polling averages)

Turnout. Early voting turnout has been enormous, with lines around the block for days and weeks before Election Day. In some states, early voting numbers have surpassed total vote turnout for the 2014 midterms. This is especially true among young  (or youngish) voters, who have seen triple-digit increases in key states like Texas and Alabama.

What remains to be seen is if this continues through today. It could be a surge in total voters, or part of an overall trend toward early voting for those who would have voted anyway. My guess is it is more of the former, and early anecdotal evidence (from Hollywood Mark Perrone among others) indicates that there will be lines all over all day.

That’s probably good news for Democrats, who need to outpace the polls. But chances are either way Trump will brag about his “big numbers, like no one has ever seen”.

Voter suppression. It’s going to happen. It’s happening in Georgia, where Brian Kemp is practicing rampant abuse of power in an effort to reinstitute Jim Crow. There have also been reports that Georgia police have been targeting GOTV efforts in African-American communities.

This is part of a broader trend of suppressing voter turnout and in many cases outright denying the right to vote for blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. It can be thuggish and Bull Connoresque, like in Kemp’s Georgia, or it can be thuggish and legislative, like in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states.

Indeed, that’s part of what this election is about: a last chance to overwhelm Republican majorities in statehouses so that this tide can be reversed. And if Democrats win, we have to hold their feet to the fire to create nonpartisan election committees so we can end gerrymandering and enshrine the true right to vote across the country.

Intimidation. 

There will be QAnon supporters calling in the police when they see voters bussed in or using guides, both of which are legal and acceptable. This is designed to make it harder for certain people to vote (I’m guessing not a lot of Q-heads are going to drop a dime on busloads of white retirees). This is not unrelated to the above point, and part of an overall trend toward fascism from the statehouses and from the ground.

Hacking. One of my biggest fears was a very deliberately-clumsy pretend-atempt by Russia (or Russian-related) hackers to help Democrats. That’s all that is needed for Republicans, and especially Trump, to destroy this election and institute harsher voter suppression laws. The cynicism will be outrageous. And the end result will be more chaos in our democracy, which I’m reasonably sure will not be able to survive.

A few months ago I said that what Russia does in this election will say a lot. Are they truly aligned with Trump and will interfere to help him, and idea made more plausible by his maddening refusal to strengthen electorial cyber-security. Or are they just looking to weaken America by creating a state of general higgedly-piggedly? Or do they feel the two are absolutely intertwined; probably the most reasonable assumption? We’ll see what, if anything, they do here.

Honestly, if there is a wave, I don’t think they could interfere enough to overturn it. But if Dems win, and there is even the slightest inkling that Russians helped influence one Democratic vote, even in a landslide, we’re completely unprepared for the cynical anger and countermeasures of the Republican majority between now and January.

The Unknown. Honestly, that’s the great unknown. What will this completely undemocratic force do if they lose? Accept it? Will Trump rail against his enemies and delegitimize the election? Will they blame China, as has been hinted? Will they appoint 7 Supreme Court justices in two months? Will they pull a North Carolina and try to limit the powers of the incoming House and Senate?

Honestly, anything can happen, and I can’t think about it right now. Moving on!

Individual Races. Here are some of the races I care about the most.

  • Stacey Abrams vs. Brian Kemp, Georgia governor. (Kemp +3) Abrams needs to be up a lot more to overcome the vast and massive efforts by Kemp to suppress the vote. Early voting is up a ton though, so who knows. Even if Abrams weren’t awesome this would be a race with enormous moral force lined up against Kemp, whose tactics can’t stand in a democracy. His ravening racism must be defeated. As it is though, she is awesome, and that’s the cherry on top. This race has deep historical meaning in this nation’s staggering attempts at being just and decent.
  • Andrew Gillum vs. Ron DeSantis, Florida governor (Gillum +4) Florida turning back blue is obviously a bellwether for 2020, so on a political level this is one to watch. But it is also great to see Gillum call out the Republican Party for being racist, or at least for being thought by racists to be racists. DeSantis is a stumbling Trump wannabe, and that Gillum pulls no punches and can win in a divided and truly weird state is a good sign that timidity is not the better part of valor in the age of Trump.
  • Tony Evers vs. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor (no RCP average, last Marquette poll is a tie). Fuck Scott Walker.
  • JB Pritzker vs. Bruce Rauner, IL Gov (Pritzker + like a billion) This race seems like a done deal. I have no great love for JB, though I did say that it was ok for progressives to support him, which his campaign credits for supplying their narrow margin of victory. But this race is important. Rauner has been trying to do to Illinois what Walker has done to Wisconsin: strip workers of their rights and demolish any and all social services. He’s been stopped so far, thanks to Mike Madigan, but who knows how long that can last. And in a post Roe world, we’re going to need someone who actually defends abortion rights in the midwest. All around us, states are making it harder and harder to have safe abortions, hearkening back to the bad old days of septic abortions and back-alley nightmares. We can’t let that happen in Illinois. We need to stay a safe haven. We need to defeat Bruce Rauner.
  • Laura Kelly vs Kris Kobach, Kansas Governor (Kobach +1). Kris Kobach is one of the worst people in American politics, a vote-suppressing bigot, a staunch xenophobe, a white nationalist, a supply-side fanatic, and a gun-toting trollish prick. After Sam Brownback ruined Kansas, Kobach wants to step in and double-down, while amping even further the culture wars. He embodies the GOP ideology that you need to support plutocracy, advance white nationalism, and mostly just pwn the libs. Laura Kelly seems pretty righteous, a solid and smart non-ideologue Kansas needs to recover.
  • Races that could mean something or another. I can’t tell you what specific races will be great signs around the country, except for here, where if Sean Casten defeats Peter Roskam it could be a Good Sign for Democrats that Suburban Women now hate Trump. But here are people who do know! This article, and this one. I’m sure there are a lot more, but this article is already longer than life, and I have to go vote.

There are obviously a lot of other races. Beto O’Rourke, of course, though I hold out not much hope. And god, if Steve King loses I will be thrilled beyond belief. Randy Hultgren losing in downstate Illinois would be a great harbinger, but don’t count on it.

There is more than the national races, of course. Winning governorships and statehouses is key rolling into 2020. It’s the best way to beat back this undemocratic tide. It could be our last shot.

We don’t know what Trump will do if they lose, except deflect blame. We don’t know what the Republican Party will do if they lose. But we know what they’ll do if they win, and that will be enough to keep us in a state of panic all day.

Enjoy this cold and rainy November Tuesday, everyone. Maybe try to vote!

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