Voters Rejected Wackjobs and Rewarded Competence in State Elections
“All politics is local,” famously declared former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, and rarely is that true. midterm elections on Tuesday. For all the focus on the senior Senate races in Penn State and Georgia and the race for the House of Representatives is still undecided, the races for governor and local state officials have provided perhaps the most convincing insight into the mood of the American people—like capacity. rather than strong partisanship.
While all votes still need to be counted, it appears that only one incumbent governor has lost his seat—Democrat Steve Sisolak of Nevada. In Massachusetts and Maryland, two seats were flipped when voters switched from term-limited moderate Republicans to Democratic candidates. While ballots are still being counted in Arizona, Democrats Katie Hobbssecretary of state, it looks like she’ll come close to keeping the former TV announcer and 2020 election denier Lake Kari (a red-to-blue possibility for Democrats).
But overall, it was a great night for incumbents — of all political factions. In Vermont, one of the greenest states in the country, Republican Governor Phil Scott won another term by 47 points, while at the same time, Democrat Peter Welch won another Open seats to the US Senate with 40 points. A similar dynamic plays out in neighboring New Hampshire, where Republican Governor Chris Sununu is set for re-election, even as Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan easily won re-election.
In red-hot Kansas, Democratic Governor Laura Kelly won another four-year term, and incumbent Republican Senator Jerry Moran defeated his overwhelming Democratic opponent by 23 points. In Georgia, Herschel Walker nearly trailed incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, but was notably five points behind his Republican counterpart, incumbent Governor Brian Kemp. Elsewhere, major state governors such as Ron DeSantis in Florida, Mike DeWine in Ohio, Greg Abbott in Texas, JB Pritzker in Illinois, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Gavin Newsom in California each claimed victories. in double-digit re-election.
For the vast majority of voters, it seems, partisanship doesn’t match experience and know-how — even if that means splitting their ticket between Democrats and Republicans.
Elsewhere, far-right gubernatorial candidates performed particularly poorly. In Pennsylvania, a race to replace term-limited Governor Tom Wolf easily won over Democrat Josh Shapiro in support of MAGA, his refusal to vote and potentially the criminal abortion Doug Mastriano. In Maryland, after eight years of Republican control of the governor’s mansion, Trump’s endorsed Republican candidate, Dan Cox, lost 27 points to Democrat Wes Moore. In Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers won a new four-year term after defeating Tim Michels, another Trump-approved election denizen.
Perhaps the most extreme candidate for state office, Kari Lake, is on the verge of defeat (as votes continue to be counted in Arizona). Although Lake is flashier, more open-minded, and more effective with a pleasant voice than her defeated opponent, it seems that her rude public personality, extreme views The cult and uncompromising voter denialism caused too much trouble for Arizona voters. Or, perhaps, voters just prefer working horses to show horses.
Governor candidates are not the same as Senate or House aspirants. If they don’t get the job done, voters won’t just notice it quickly—they probably feel it too. A senator is one out of a hundred. A governor has to do many things, such as managing the entire state government.
It seems no coincidence that after the COVID pandemic, the pandemic has tested the nation’s governors, like some other civil servants, voters are more concerned with their ability and experience to lead state government. is a strong ideology and partisan spirit.
In the months following the onset of COVID, governors have seen a near-universal spike in approval ratings (ironically, the only person who saw their numbers initially drop was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis). Two years later, it seems voters were belatedly thanking them at the polls, or at least realizing the dangers of handing the keys to running state government to poor candidates. more quality.
Notably, one of the few major state governors to have a bad record is New York’s Kathy Hochul, who won by a tight 5 points. However, she takes office in 2021, after the worst of the pandemic has passed—and after much of the credit for the state’s response goes to her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.
And it’s not just the head of state government. For the GOP deniers running for secretary of state positions on Tuesday, it was a rough night. All of them are lost in six key battleground states where Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In Michigan and Pennsylvania, it appears voters have switched key state legislative chambers from red to blue (in Michigan, both the House and Senate switched, and in Pennsylvania, just the council of state, although the results are still pending). In both states, the state GOP was taken over by the radical faction of the party. In Arizona—a state that was once a solid red state, but one where the GOP increasingly adopts far-right conspiracy thinking—Democrats seem poised to win four major statewide elections— senator, governor, secretary of state and attorney general. In fact, across the country, Democrats have not lost a state legislature in this election. That hasn’t happened to an incumbent party in 88 years.
This could be the most positive outcome of the 2022 election. After years of seemingly intractable political polarization, just the right amount of voters took a deep breath on this Election Day and rejected the candidates. The candidate who has not only undermined America’s democratic institutions but has most divided Americans. That’s good news for the Democratic Party…but also great news for democracy.