October Surprise! PPFA Returns for Midterms Coverage

I’m back, and I can’t apologize enough for that. There might legitimately be something wrong with my brain. Do I get paid for this? No. Does it take time to write? Obviously. So why do I do it? I honestly don’t know anymore. But with an election looming, I just can’t stay away.

When we were last here, I wrote a summer preview of key statistics and primaries that midterm followers should monitor between June and September. Now that it’s October, we can use those benchmarked statistics to see what’s changed, identify any shifts, and then look ahead to the last month of the election.

Americans are again defining November 8’s midterms as the Most. Important. Ever. Depending on what partisan media you primarily consume, if the Republicans take Congress from the Democrats, either inflation will be solved and babies’ lives will be saved or traitors will ensure Donald Trump returns to the White House and uteri will be controlled by men forever. The suspense is palpable and, for some, anxiety-producing. Perhaps it’ll help to know what America’s Most Accurate Pundit thinks will happen.

Let me know if you find out who that is. In the meantime, I’ll offer my Roughly One Month Out predictions for the fate of each chamber — the House today and the Senate some time after today. (Make sure to sign up for updates to know when the Senate post drops!)


Midterms 2022: The House of Representatives

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It’s Not Just about January 6

I’m not breaking news when I say that at any given time, half the country doesn’t want to talk about important things we have to deal with. These days, for example, Democrats don’t want to talk about the effects of their myopic fiscal policy on inflation. They don’t want to talk about progressive policies leading to rising crime and homelessness. They don’t want to talk about their culpability in the threatened lives of Supreme Court justices. These things should be talked about, and voters should hold respective Democrats accountable.

Republicans, meanwhile, seem to think those are the only things we should talk about. Most notably, as we saw last week, they criticize the January 6 committee and its prime time event last Thursday, mostly saying that either the committee is illegitimate or that Democrats are focusing on the wrong problems facing our country. Fox News, during Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity’s two hours, was the only major news channel that didn’t air the committee’s evidence. Carlson argued that Fox News wouldn’t show it because it was all a lie. So fearful was he that people would accidentally hear the lies of the damning January 6 committee summary, his show didn’t even air commercials for his hour, a viewer-holding strategy almost without precedent. They so badly didn’t want to risk their viewers giving Congress three minutes of their time that they ignored the people who pay the network’s bills.

So while Democrats try to explain away the important day-to-day problems facing America, Republicans are seemingly ignoring something more existential to the country. Inflation rises and falls. So do gas prices and crime. Perhaps a Republican with ideas to fix these problems should be elected. However, I will not allow Democrats’ arguably bad policy to overshadow the most important political development of my lifetime — a President who acted the role of tyrant.

Continue reading “It’s Not Just about January 6”

The 2022 Midterms: Six Months Out

It’s now six months before the party of inflation and mandates takes on the party of overturning free and fair elections. I can’t wait to see who America picks!

Four years ago, when we were six months away from the 2018 midterms, I made official predictions from which I never wavered: the Democrats were going to take the House but the Republicans would hold the Senate. I was right then, and I’m going to be right again now.

Six months out from the 2022 midterms, let’s take a look at the race for the two chambers of Congress.


Part I: The House of Representatives

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How Our Parties Switched: Part VII (Conclusion)

Against all odds, you’re back. Despite the last six parts of this series, you’re here for the seventh. I’m humbled. As your reward, today I really will tell you How Our Parties Switched.

For those that arrived here as a result of a googling accident, let’s recap my last two posts. Parts I through III focused on the words “liberal” and “conservative,” including how parties congeal around each of these ideologies, a pattern in our country that goes back to the 13 American colonies. Parts IV through VI then walked you through the evolution of our two-party system, from the federalists and antifederalists arguing about the Constitution, to the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans splitting on their interpretations of that Constitution, to the Federalist collapse, to the Democratic-Republican fracture, to the quick rise and fall of the Whigs, and finally to the founding of the Democratic and Republican parties, our two major parties since the 1850s.

I also noted how historians organize this party evolution. We’ve covered a few “party systems,” which so far have reflected the different stages of American partisanship:

  1. The First Party System (1792-1824) reflected the fight between our first two official parties, the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, culminating in the former’s collapse and the latter’s hegemony over American politics.
  2. The Second Party System (1828-1852) is organized around the next battle, triggered by Andrew Jackson’s divisive leadership fragmenting the Democratic-Republicans. His followers became the successors of the Democratic-Republicans and called themselves the Democratic Party, which exists to this day. Their anti-Jackson opponents formed the short-lived Whig Party.
  3. Next, the Third Party System (1856-1892) is the first stage during which we have our modern two parties. The Democrats continued, but the Whigs, as a result of their softness on slavery, were replaced by the abolitionist Republicans.

An important element of these evolutions was that the regions of the country, despite the partisan transformations outlined above, retained remarkably consistent ideologies. Although I determined it was in appropriate to call any of our major parties purely “liberal” or “conservative,” I did try to isolate a pattern that we could use:

The last few paragraphs of Part VI arrived at the early twentieth century, when Democrat William Jennings Bryan, in the presidential election of 1908, lost to Republican William Howard Taft. In that election, the Democrats still swept the “Solid South,” while Republican popularity remained up north.

However, despite the parties’ continuity from the late nineteenth to twentieth century, I noted that the “winds of change” had already begun blowing across the American political landscape.

So, dear and dedicated readers, we are finally read for…

Part VII: How Our Parties Switched

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How Our Parties Switched, Parts IV-VI

Parts I through III of “How Our Parties Switched” was all about context. I unpacked the historical meanings of “liberal” and “conservative.” We took a look at the political tendencies of the British-American colonists up through the American Revolution and Articles of Confederation period, each a victory for liberals who wanted to change traditional systems of government by giving power to individual states, with voters having power over those states.

I left off with the drafting of the Constitution in 1787, which attempted a conservative course-correction by re-centralizing authority into a federal government while limiting the people’s power over that government. However, not all Americans trusted this turn toward the right, so a debate emerged across the 13 states: to ratify or not to ratify?

It is in this debate where we see the emergence of two political factions that become the progenitors of our two major parties. It’s best to first familiarize ourselves with these two factions if we want to understand How Our Parties Switched.

Continue reading “How Our Parties Switched, Parts IV-VI”

How Our Parties Switched, Parts I-III

(It’s a long one today. Perhaps you’re prefer podcast form? Available at Apple and Spotify)

I’d like to describe you the geographic base and general ideology of an American political party, and see if you can guess which one I’m talking about. This party is stronger in the north than in the south. It’s more popular in urban areas than rural ones, and it’s more popular on the coasts than it is in the heart of America. The party stands for a centralized government with national policies. On civil rights and other social issues, this party is seen as the more liberal, or progressive, of the two major parties. This party has also historically advocated for an income tax to help redistribute money to help pay for government initiatives.

Which American political party did I just describe?

You actually don’t have enough information to answer. You must first ask a follow-up question.

When?

Now I’ll describe another party. This party is more popular in the south than it is in the north. It is more popular in rural areas than urban ones, and it’s more popular inland than on the coast. The party advocates for states’ rights and therefore resists nationalized policies, including high income taxes that fund an overly powerful and expensive federal government. It resists the government legislating on who businesses hire, who universities accept, and what the Supreme Court can tell states to do. On cultural and social issues, this party is conservative, favoring traditional value systems over new ones.

What party did I describe this time?

Again, to answer the question, you first must know the answer to that follow-up question. When in American history did this party exist?


The party I first described sounds a lot like the modern Democratic Party. However, it also sounds like the Republican Party from the mid-nineteenth century into the early part of the twentieth. That second party I described sounds a lot like the modern GOP, but it also could describe the earlier Democratic Party.

So what’s the deal? Have you ever wondered why and how did the parties switch?

You came to the right place.

Continue reading “How Our Parties Switched, Parts I-III”

From Afghanistan to Ukraine: Strategy, Tactics, & Biden’s Foreign Policy

(This post is also available as a podcast episode.)

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone but diehard partisans say that President Biden has been a strong president.

His promise to bring America together has failed. His unrealistic prediction that Republicans would snap out of it once the election evicted President Trump from the White House has not manifested. His presidential press conferences, rare as they may be, are the most worrying of my lifetime, save only those of his predecessor. Although the American Rescue Plan protected a fragile recovery, it was fair for critics to worry about the long-term effects on prices and productivity, and even those critics may have underpredicted inflation, now at a 40-year-high of 7.9%. Meanwhile, his Build Back Better budget plan never got through Congress — a Congress his party controls.

For these and several other reasons, I think Republicans are virtually assured of a House takeover this November (perhaps the Senate as well), and Biden’s inability to stop it will make him look even weaker. His greatest singular accomplishment to his party and our country remains that he won an election his opponent was determined to steal, a victory that gave his party control of the executive and legislative branches and our democracy control of itself. Since then, however, victories for this overmatched chief executive have been few and far between, and he should do us all a favor and not run again in 2024.

When his party loses control of Congress in January, his domestic agenda will be even more ineffectual, making his foreign policy all the more critical when either he runs for re-election or the Democrats scramble to replace him. For that reason, and with the Ukrainian conflict now in its second month, I want to consider Biden’s foreign policy through the lens of the two primary crises he’s faced: the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

It’s been a mixed bag. Although I actually agree with Biden’s strategy in Afghanistan, his tactics were abysmal. Then, in Ukraine, it was the strategy that was laughable but the tactics laudable.

Here’s what I mean.

Continue reading “From Afghanistan to Ukraine: Strategy, Tactics, & Biden’s Foreign Policy”

Sorry, But We’re Halfway to Iowa and New Hampshire

Two years ago this month, we witnessed the 2020 Democratic Primary’s first four contests: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Two years from now, we might see both parties with competitive primaries in those states. This month — February 2022 — marks the halfway point.

What do you think, PPFA readers? Are you surprised by how quickly these two years have gone?

Oh, that’s right, that whole “Covid pandemic” thing started right after those early contests; in March 2020, the NBA shut down, Tom Hanks got sick, and I was sent home from school for a “two week” pause. Two years has felt like two decades of wearing masks, socially distancing, and diving behind large objects every time someone coughs. It feels like a lifetime since the Iowa debacle, the Klobuchar New Hampshire surprise, and the predictable (for PPFA), triumphant Biden comeback.

But if the pace of time speeds up to compensate for whatever the hell the last two years were, the next primary will be here before we know it. When taking our first baby steps into considering the 2024 early contests, I think we need to separate our analysis into three questions:

  1. Will Iowa and New Hampshire even keep their spots?
  2. To what extent will the early primaries be competitive?
  3. If they are competitive, who are the likely competitors?

I know, I know. For many of you, it’s too soon for these sorts of questions. But if that were the case, why the heck are you reading Presidential Politics for America? You know want to keep going.

So let’s go.


1. Will Iowa and New Hampshire even keep their spots?

Continue reading “Sorry, But We’re Halfway to Iowa and New Hampshire”

The 2022 Midterms, Part I: History & the House

It’s good to be back! This week on Presidential Politics for America:


First up… some bragging.

Continue reading “The 2022 Midterms, Part I: History & the House”