Remember this story, which CNN pushed almost exactly one year ago? At the time, the annual rate of inflation was less than 5%, job growth was exploding, and average pay increases were within 1% of the inflation rate.
So CNN sought out a family with nine children, creating a grocery bill that was highly unusual, if not unique. Then it presented this as how inflation was “affecting how Americans can feed their kids” (and you really have to listen to this to hear how it was said). They then talked about how this family couldn’t afford to buy the healthier food (represented by a box of P.F. Chang’s frozen fried rice), followed by a stack of performative shopping (all of it apparently for highly processed and packaged foods). Then there was this:
CNN Reporter: “The grand total, $310. How much would you have spent back in March to do the same thing?”
Shopping mom: “So, probably we would have only spent, maybe about $150, maybe $200.”
This number goes absolutely unchallenged, even though it was 12 to 21 times the actual rate of inflation over that period. The same kind of claims went uncorrected throughout the story.
Why did CNN find the most extreme situation possible, and then raise even those already out-sized numbers with what were simply lies? Because it was building a narrative, a narrative that it would sell, again and again, along with other major media outlets, every single day, day in and day out, for a year. Inflation is high. Be concerned.
And of course, inflation is a concern. Salaries almost never move as quickly as expenses. As the Fed has moved to increase interest rates, it really has become harder to afford a home (especially in a market where a pricing bubble built up over several years is yet to pop). But the other thing that the national media has been trying to push over this same year is the idea that inflation is somehow Biden’s fault, and that Republicans can do something about it.
However, none of them seemed to ever mention that Republicans have absolutely no plan for fighting inflation. They didn’t even have a pretend plan. These are the same Republicans who in 2020 did not even have a party platform. For 2022, they did put together something, but that something is all about impeaching everyone from Biden to Merrick Garland to Anthony Fauci to Hillary Clinton (don’t ask how). None of which is likely to bring down the price of milk.
At this point on Wednesday morning, the final outcome of the midterm elections is unknown. Republicans may end up in control of the House, but it’s going to be very close. Democrats seem almost certain to retain the Senate after picking up a seat in Pennsylvania, but there is still some degree of risk.
Here’s what’s absolutely certain: Republicans hugely underperformed. They underperformed versus expectations for the out-of-White House party for any midterm, and they underperformed the expectations that both they and the media had set for them so badly that it’s almost impossible to find the right measure of their failure.
And all this happened with tremendous support for Republicans up and down the media. It wasn’t just Fox News carrying their water every day, it was every three-letter broadcast network, every 24/7 news channel, and every supposedly neutral political site. Here’s an absolutely 24K gold example from Politico. Their own polls showed Democrats ahead in critical races in and in generic preference. But this is what they wrote, completely ignoring what the polls—again, their own polls—were telling them.
Voters often treat midterm elections as a referendum on the president and his party, which suggests that support for Democrats is on the wane, and many polling averages indicate that voters are more inclined to vote for Republicans as a result. The POLITICO-Morning Consult poll is an outlier on this question, showing support for Democratic congressional candidates at 48 percent, five points above support for Republican candidates.
They declared the results of their own poll an outlier. And what was Nate Silverman doing over at 538? He was busy defending a decision to add dozens of last minute “polls” put together by Republican outfits no one had ever heard of before, which were clearly designed for no reason other than to give the false appearance of a Republican surge. His response: Democrats should just put out their own fake polls to “balance” the results.
The media was more invested in selling a red wave before it happened than the average Elon Musk supporter is invested dogecoin. But in the end, the very real red wave of negative press didn’t crush the Democratic Party. It only swept away their credibility.
What happened? What happened was, first and foremost, the thing that didn’t get mentioned by supposedly serious pundits conducting a supposedly serious discussion about the upcoming vote: People were deeply concerned by the way that the Supreme Court moved to overturn Roe v. Wade and the obvious enthusiasm that Republicans were demonstrating while they continued the erosion of individual rights. When that hideous decision rolled down from the court, Republicans were momentarily concerned enough to tiptoe around receiving the exact gift they’d been claiming they wanted for five decades. That lasted about five seconds. As time went on, and the media focused on the nonexistent 200% inflation rate on groceries, Republicans got right back down to the business of writing state laws that were unfathomably cruel. The news media might have considered stories about women being forced to cross state lines to save their lives, or preteens being forced to carry their rapist’s child, as no big deal. Women did not see it that way.
The media also declared that this midterm, like every midterm, would be a referendum on the sitting president. And with their polls showing that Joe Biden was “hugely unpopular,” that referendum was sure to turn the normal boost that out-parties received into an extra special red flood. However, Biden’s supposed unpopularity may be broad, but not all that deep. Outside of the percentage of Americans who believe all Democrats are eating babies in the basement of pizza parlors, how many people actually hate Joe Biden? The overlap between the Q demographic and those who are concerned about Hunter Biden’s laptop is essentially perfect. Americans have absolutely zero interest in seeing the next two years focus on impeaching Biden for daring to win an election.
And there’s something else. That something is Trump. Americans do have very strong feelings about Trump, and about the Big Lie around the 2020 election. That feeling is not a good one. Make no mistake, one factor—and perhaps the largest factor—dampening the “red wave” on Tuesday night was the making supporting a Republican candidate tantamount to supporting Trump.
If Republicans want to win an election in 2024, they need to dump Trump, do it quickly, and burn every bridge. They might also want to look into the business of having a policy. A policy that isn’t “we will hate the people you want to hate for you.” Promising to hurt trans kids, Blacks, immigrants, and women is not a policy. It’s just hate.
The lesson for Democrats coming out of Tuesday was solidly defined in this analysis by kos.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well, including egg on the face of ridiculous Democrats who surrendered the election before any votes were counted. All because Republicans set “The Narrative,” and the traditional media and prognosticators were unable to consider the data, the special election results, and the polling.
The lesson for Republicans is different: You need a new party. One that’s not centered around Donald Trump and around removing rights from the Americans you want to hurt.