BAPB* No. 8: More elections thoughts, more football
Updated: Nov 22
*Bouncing Around Paul's Brain
Updated 11/22/22 with football results
Further thoughts on midterm elections
Last week I shared some first impressions, before congressional election results were in. They were:
Lack of participation is as big a threat to democracy as any Republican.
We hate the way the country is going but we don't hold our own elected officials responsible for that.
States are even more polarized than before, and swing states are an endangered species.
This election confirms the status quo of closely divided government.
It's time to take a deep breath and ignore elections for a year!
Which I will do after this article. I may do some number-crunching but will not have anything to say about the 2024 election before November of 2023. I wish the media and candidates would do the same and I encourage you to ignore anything they say. They respond to markets and it's time the consumers tell them we aren't buying the constant election cycle.
So here's what I've got in the meantime.
What did I expect? Earlier I predicted that Republicans would gain 30 seats in the House to control it by around around 50 seats (something like 245-195). I then predicted Republicans would gain four Senate seats to have a 54-46 lead.
What happened? Not that! Democrats will break even or gain a seat in the Senate, depending on Georgia's runoff. Republicans will control the House, by at least a seat (218-217) and probably a bit more (say 221-214).
Why? We'll never know all the reasons, but experts and reporters have come up with a lot of potential reasons. Some Republicans blamed the continuing noise from former President Donald Trump. Observers of all kinds noted a very weak slate of Republican Senate candidates. Worry about Republican election deniers played a role. Backlash against the Supreme Court's overreach on abortion restrictions helped Democrats as well.
What should Republicans worry about? Trump. He's unpopular and would pull down Republicans at all levels if he's the presidential nominee. He's also proven in the past that the Republican establishment can't stop him. He's quite likely to be the nominee. As to voters, the biggest problems continue to be attracting women of color and young people. Congressional Republican candidates won only 28% of votes from women under 30 and 45 percent of women overall. However, Republican remain strong with men, married voters, parents, and veterans. Unless Democrats can turn out more young women and women of color and the younger generation holds on to its liberal world view, Republicans seem to have command of enough loyal voters to win most national elections most of the time.
What should Democrats worry about? Well, Trump, but they don't need me to tell them that; they are consistently hysterical on that front. For the long run, the Latino vote is a concern, as there are some signs that working class Latinos will join working class Whites as solid Republican voters. Also, they should look more closely at this year's House elections. While they did much better than expected this year, there are warning signs. In conservative Florida, all 28 Democrats ran behind Biden's poor 2020 results in their districts. In more liberal New York, just 3 of 25 Democrats in contested districts won by as much or more than Biden did two years ago. In the largest remaining swing state, Michigan, 6 of 13 Democrats equaled or bettered Biden's results. Many popular and well-known Democrats fell behind Biden and, especially in New York, a number of Republicans won districts that Biden won by double digits. Doesn't bode well for 2024 if Republicans don't run Trump.
What about Oklahoma? Why didn't you write about it? Too depressing! This year proved Democrats can't compete in statewide races here, no matter how good their candidates, how bad their opponents, or how much money and volunteer support they have. I promise never to get my hopes up again on that front and suggest Democrats do the same. Instead, it's now time for the hard work they've been neglecting. Rather than pour money into losing statewide campaigns, they should work on winnable state legislative seats and local races for County Commissioner, District Attorney, and City Council. Democrats can win these races and had some important and unexpected wins this year. Over time, more difference gets made in local government than in state, and one of those local officials may be the next Democratic governor (if they're young enough!).
Next week I'll conclude election ruminations by talking about what can and can't happen in a divided Congress and I'll suggest some stretch goals for President Biden and congressional leaders of both parties.
College football picks, week 12
Last week I performed like Tennessee, and picked the wrong week to do so. I did get the top 4 correct, probably for the first time this season, so there's that. Nailed the winners (21-6) and less than half against the line (12-15). How hard is it to pick against the line? A difference of five points total across three games would have made that 12-15 into a 15-12.
Also, Oklahoma won, which I apologize to Sooners everywhere for doubting. I'm predicting that win streak ends this weekend, which should give comfort to OU fans. Underlined results are correct, italics not.
Still plugging away in spite of a couple of horrible weeks in a row picking against the line. Those oddsmakers are better than I am at this. But like certain football teams in Oklahoma, I'm not giving up; just working on improvements for this year.
Speaking of which, in a game that matters to nobody outside Oklahoma and maybe not a ton here in the state, I like the Cowboys but expect the Sooners to keep it closer than the 7.5-point spread. And as usual (and as usually wrong) I don't see many Top 25 upsets but a lot of games closer than the odds would indicate. Here's how I did last week.
As to playoff-bound teams, the College Football Playoff Committee has Georgia-Ohio State-Michigan-TCU in the top 4. My rankings swap Ohio State and Georgia and I still have Tennessee (and Penn St. and Alabama and USC) above TCU. Won't matter as long as TCU doesn't lose, but Tennessee is the only team that's soundly beaten two top ten teams (Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan have only beaten one each) and has held its own against Georgia. Tennessee has two easy games left and deserves to be in the playoffs.
Georgia by 22.5
#2 Ohio State
Maryland by 27.5
Michigan by 18
TCU by 2.5
Tennessee by 21.5
LSU by 14.5
USC by 2.5
Yay! Can't get this one wrong.
Clemson by 19
Oregon by 3
#11 Penn St.
Penn St. by 19
#13 N. Carolina
N. Carolina by 21
Miss. by 2.5
#15 Kansas St.
Kansas St. by 7.5
Washington by 31
#18 Notre Dame
Notre Dame by 21
#19 Florida St
Florida St by 24
#20 Central Fla.
UCF by 16.5
Tulane by 3.5
#22 Okla. State
Okla St by 7.5
#23 Oregon St.
Oregon St. by 8
#24 NC State
Louisville by 4
Cincy by 17
Texas by 9
Iowa St by 3.5
Wash St by 4
Cal by 5