It was an election that many polls and prognosticators expected to be a "red wave," Republicans sweeping back into power on high crime and inflation, and low approval ratings for the Biden administration.
That wave never materialized.
At the national level, Democrats look poised to maintain the Senate, with a possible net pickup of one seat. The House could end up in Republican hands, but by the slimmest majority since, potentially, the 72nd Congress in 1931.
To break down the midterm outcome, from Congress down to the too-close-to-call Los Angeles Mayor’s race, and what those results mean for 2024 and the political futures of Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Gavin Newsom, and Ron DeSantis, Elex Michaelson is joined on "The Issue Is" by political experts Brian Goldsmith and Lynn Vavreck.
Also this week, in honor of Veteran’s Day, Michaelson joins former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a BBQ for veterans at the VA in West Los Angeles, the same location that, last year, Schwarzenegger donated 25 tiny homes to house homeless veterans.
THE ISSUE IS: THE RED WAVE THAT WASN’T
VAVRECK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think that the age of the wave may be dwindling. It doesn't mean it's over forever, but I would say right now and in the short term, people are pretty stuck - we call it calcification in the book - they're stuck where they are. The other side is really far away, and that makes it kind of unappealing for people to think about crossing over. There are swing voters, but they're a smaller segment of the electorate than they used to be…."
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "You're playing at the margins and you're playing in the states, in the places where you can win. I mean, this election wasn't just a battle between Democrats and Republicans, it was a battle between the old politics of low Biden approval rating, high wrong track, economic dissatisfaction, and the new politics of extremism, particularly on the Republican side, calcification, as Lynn says, where people are stuck where they are, and that explains some of the Democratic over-performance we saw relative to historic norms…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE LOS ANGELES MAYORAL RACE
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Caruso owned the top issues, crime and homelessness, and to a certain extent, affordability. And Bass owned the coalition, the constituencies that normally power a victory in an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Caruso spending, his ability to get his message out, meant that the two were kind of evenly matched going into Election Day, and so this is anybody's race…"
VAVRECK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Persuasion is hard, but every effort that you can make to connect with voters, whether that's advertising, spending $100 million on leafleting, knocking on doors, that all helps. It's an arms race, and so you never want to cede hat ground to your opponent… in addition to that, the electioneering, the money definitely helps…"
THE ISSUE IS: TRUMP VS. DESANTIS 2024
VAVRECK’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think some of the energy behind this DeSantis moment is, I don't want to say it's artificial, but there were other Republican governors who had big nights, Mike DeWine in Ohio, for example. And, you know, nobody's talking about like will DeWine get into the 2024 race... it is a narrative coming out of Tuesday, and it's of course, what everybody wants to know, is what is going to happen in 2024. So, yes, it could be the two of them, but then of course, if it's the two of them, Brian, am I right, some third person will come in to try to soak up - they'll split that vote that Trump has been getting and a third person will come in to soak up the middle. But then if one person's going to do that, five people are going to do that, and then maybe it's 2016 all over again…"
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, that's the big question, can the Republicans consolidate around an alternative to Trump? Because you remember that those primaries are largely winner-take-all, and if Trump can hold his 30 or 35% of the party, he can win again... I Think a lot of the establishment of the Republican Party knows this, can they be more effective than they were eight years ago in holding off the person that they do not want to be the nominee again, clearly, that's the big question…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE PATH FORWARD FOR THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY
GOLDSMITH’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, the sorting, the calcification, the tribalization of the country has profoundly hurt the California Republican Party, because independent voters, centrist Democrats who used to occasionally vote for Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, look at the national Republican Party and say, 'no, thank you.' The culture war, all of the efforts that are happening in the red states, they don't want any part of that here, and so that kind of pushes them back into the arms of Democrats that they may not be thrilled with, but they like the alternative a lot less…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.