2023 Elections: A Post-mortem
The day after Election Day, which is hardly a day at all, but rather the culmination of many weeks of uncontrolled, unmanageable, and untraceable “voting,” by voters, proxies, and others, has become reminiscent of an abusive relationship. Wounds are licked, blame is cast, and eventually, we vow to get it together and put the old smile on one more time and organize some primaries and polish up the “get out the vote” wagon.
Last night’s elections, the 2023 rendition of the ongoing national divorce, have brought more of the same. Outside of a few outliers, like the Republicans flipping the Manchester, New Hampshire, mayoral seat, there’s not much to brag about. Andy Beshear, a legacy Democrat from Kentucky, was re-elected over a dynamic, young Republican challenger, Daniel Cameron. Abortion “rights” won out over pro-life efforts in Ohio, which has recently become so Trumpy we often forget that it was once the king of all bellwether states, wrong just twice in aligning with the presidential winner between 1896 and 2016. In the Old Dominion, Virginia, Republicans got smoked in the battle for the state legislature.
So, what in the hell is going on out there? Should you be upset?
There are many reasons to be upset, and most of them fall into the category of cause and effect. First, it is critical for those seeking election reform (the so-called election deniers) to call balls and strikes consistently. If we fail to do that, we will undermine the cause itself. Some state Republican parties are circulating documents discrediting the work of election integrity groups because they are associating their good work with the dubious, conspiratorial, and sometimes utterly crazy claims of people who run in adjacent circles. I’ve explained here in these pages before that I take very few logical leaps in my election forecasting and analysis because I need fence-sitters, not the choir, to see how clear the manipulation in Arizona, Pennsylvania, or Georgia is, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater because I’m obsessed with yard signs in California somehow making up a five million vote gap between Trump and Biden in a state that has hemorrhaged Republican voters for two decades.
Focus on that which we can impact. Here are five key takeaways from Election Night (and Election Weeks) 2023:
I. Legitimate Grievances
There is no greater outrage from this year’s election cycle than the glaring problems with voting machines, especially in Northampton County, Pennsylvania (a county that fraudulently flipped from Trump to Biden in 2020), which uses ES&S ExpressVoteXL machines. The company bullshitted itself through an explanation that “human error” in programming was the culprit for their widespread system failures, which enraged county executive Lamont McClure, a Democrat. Note: if you happen to be reading this and you work for or represent ES&S – you own this albatross, and thanks to your public pants-crapping, have absolutely zero grounds for calling for me to cease and desist.
This is low hanging fruit and has absolutely nothing to do with who won or lost an election. It has everything to do with the voters’ right to transparency. Voters were being told to ignore the screens, and that their ballots would be counted as they had marked on the voting machines. Really? Just take their word for it? Paper ballots do not require programming or extensive testing, if any. The system itself is obviously designed to be so complicated that it requires confidence in government to adjudicate winners and losers.
II. The Romney Effect
You may not like what I’m about to write, but I’m going to write it anyway. We are long past the days of Republican voters showing up like robots to vote just to make sure Democrats don’t win. There was a time for that, and the treachery and disloyalty of the Republican flagship, never more obvious than when they did all they could to ensure President Trump was ushered out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, has ensured the common man that Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson spoke of, doesn’t show up just so they can be betrayed by Democrats-lite.
People are bellyaching about the results in Kentucky, which feature a split-ticket decision in statewide races with the Democrat governor staying in the mansion, but do they realize that both Beshear and Cameron had fewer votes than Beshear 1.0 and former Governor Matt Bevin had in 2019? In Ohio, “no” proponents (the pro-lifers) barely had half as many votes as Trump had in the Buckeye State in 2020? The Romney effect is in play here. Romney improved only in suburban counties in the working-class states, and in many rural or working-class counties, declined in votes from McCain’s 2008 totals. It took Trump to get those voters to the polls, because they had been lulled to inaction by the inadequacy of the GOP machine. One reason the 2020 election fraud was so obvious is because Trump had an extraordinary number of votes, which made it very easy to spot purely fictitious Biden vote totals across the country.
The GOP fails to engage the low propensity voter, and given that their modus operandi is to avoid the topics they care about most, like controlling immigration (legal and illegal), making trade favor Americans, and election reform, what exactly is the point of showing up? There is also the case to be made for party engagement and the actual get out the vote (GOTV) operation, which is sorely lacking and misguided.
III. Democrats Are Wicked – But Not Stupid