Friday, October 21, 2022

Coroner Brooks


Autopsy seen by Thomas Eakins, 1875. Imagine if the patient wasn't dead yet!

David Brooks ("Why Republicans Are Surging") has posted his autopsy of how Democrats lost the House and perhaps even the Senate, which gives me a little wan hope that that may not happen—it's not November 9 yet, and the proverbial fat lady just started her warmups in early voting in Georgia, where turnout began with an extraordinary bang, in numbers exceeding those of presidential-year 2020, suggesting a wild Democratic enthusiasm, or rage against those who have tried to suppress it if you prefer to think of it that way, at least in Georgia, which is a pretty important state this year.

And besides, most of Brooks's analysis is pretty weak-looking, dependent on that annoying Times-Siena poll Steve M and Joan Walsh have been dunking on, in which the likely voter screen focused on people who voted in one of the last four national or local elections (somebody with an effective 25% chance of showing up is a likely voter?) and underestimating the floods of mostly women who registered for the first time after the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Then there's the cherrypicking look at campaign spending from Washington Post conservative columnist Henry Olsen, who finds Democrats shoveling money into races they should be able to take for granted, and Republicans into races they shouldn't have a chance at, a strategy area I'm never really prepared to talk about, but I will say that  a couple of weeks ago DCCC was sounding the alarm about not having enough money and possibly needing to perform a kind of triage, and reinforcing it last week

GOP Rep. Mike Garcia holds one of House Republicans’ most vulnerable districts. But Democrats have barely spent a dime on TV to take him down.

The decision, according to those involved, was driven by a relative lack of resources: As Republicans’ biggest House super PAC floods the election with hundreds of millions of dollars, their Democratic counterparts have lagged far behind. Some members of the California Democratic delegation were alarmed by the decision to leave Garcia’s district untouched...

Are Olsen's and Brooks's takes literally meant to discourage donations to the DCCC? By the kind of fat-cat donors who give to both parties and read the Times and Post op-ed pages? Just thinking about it made me want to send them some money.

Brooks himself is in full concern troll mode, of course, with an italicized list of things the Democrats should be blaming themselves for, garnished with rueful little references to his own recent wokeness. 

He thought the child tax credit expansion, for instance, "could help create a Democratic governing majority", but it didn't encourage voters to "trust" Democrats to manage the economy; "Maybe voters have a built-in uneasiness about income redistribution." (Doesn't mention that the CTC expansion expired in December 2021 at the insistence of all the Republican senators plus Manchin, and the millions it helped slipped back into poverty.)

Or he thought Democrats "walking away" from the more obscene consequences of the 1994 crime bill, associated with Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, was "often for good reasons", but they didn't offer a replacement policy that "will make the streets safer". (Ignores the fact that the streets are a lot safer than they were in 1994, and the concept of an ongoing crime wave is almost entirely a creation of the rightwing propaganda machinery.)

And of course the hoary story of how the "Hispanic vote" turned somewhat Republican in 2020, with no attention to the fact that this effect is limited to Florida and Mexico (chiefly attributable, as I keep telling you, to Cuban and upper-class Mexican Americans transitioning to whiteness), while elsewhere (Indigenous and Black) Latinos played a crucian role in Democratic victories, in which, according to a study by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative,

Latino voters were decisive in sending President-elect Joe Biden to the White House.

The analysis of votes cast in 13 states is the most comprehensive look at how Latinos voted in the 2020 general election. In 12 of those states, Latinos supported Biden over President Donald Trump by a margin of at least 2 to 1. And in nine of the 13 — including the battleground states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania —  the margin was at least 3 to 1. Only in Florida was Biden’s margin among Latino voters less than 2 to 1....

The authors write that Latinos played a key role in swinging election results in several battleground states. In Arizona, where Latinos represent 25.2% of all registered voters, the size and turnout of the Latino electorate helped Biden become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1996. And even in Wisconsin and Georgia — where Latinos make up less than 5% of registered voters — the Latino electorate helped tipped the results in favor of Biden.

Brooks is preparing the narrative in which Democrats lost because they were just no good, in spite of the way David Brooks generously gave them the benefit of the doubt. It's not his fault!

But I"m really thinking it remains to be seen whether he's right, because his own understanding is so impoverished.

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