Candidate quality may not be enough

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb during the first debate in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary Sunday, April 3, 2022, at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

There is a ton of uncertainty as the primary season unfolds and we begin to turn our heads towards the midterm elections in November. Midterms are usually decided by resentment towards the party in power and it becomes a game of turnout. 

There is not a whole lot of split ticket voting like we have seen during elections of the past, nor should that be expected to change in 2022. It would take lots of money, time and luck to be able to draw over enough voters to win a crossover district. 

Sadly, though, we are running into an issue for 2022, where the environment for Democrats is looking to be so bad that candidate quality may not be enough to lift some of the hard-hitting incumbents over the edge. 

A few examples of this include Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, who has led in polls up to this point, but is running in a purple state in a sure to be red year. The only thing that may save him is the fact that he is a fundraising juggernaut and has unique ties to his state. 

All of his challengers seem to be running into issues, and with Governor Ducey declining to run, Republicans may have a hard time actually unseating Kelly. 

Senator Raphael Warnock is a charismatic, lovable and hardworking guy who fought tooth and nail to win his special election. Georgia would be making a huge mistake not sending him back. 

However, Georgia is another purple state where this environment is not looking to do Warnock any favors. Trump favorite, Herschel Walker, seems to be the front man for the GOP, which is great for Warnock due to Walker’s incompetence and baggage he carries. 

Even with all of that though, we still might sadly see a Senator Walker and that should send chills down everyone’s spine. The man literally has no platform. 

Other states like Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida all have either great incumbents or excellent candidates running for the Senate, but every single one of these states is going to be like pulling teeth to get over the top. 

Despite the booming job market and other indicators of an economy in good shape, people are feeling the effects of inflation and gas prices and are pointing their blame towards the president and his party. 

There is also some intense feuding going on between the progressive caucus and the more moderate New Dems as the primaries heat up. The Republican Party has all but embraced Trump’s brand of conservativism, although it is not conservative whatsoever if we are honest. 

Democrats, however, are struggling to keep the Biden coalition together as the battle for progressive versus moderate pragmatic politics once again comes to the forefront. My money is on the moderate wing, but progressives are posing a challenge undoubtedly. 

Just look to a couple of the messy primaries happening in both Pennsylvania and in South Texas.

Rep. Conor Lamb is hitting Lt. Governor John Fetterman hard in the primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Fetterman cannot even show up at the candidate debate and refuses to accept that pointing a gun at an unarmed Black man is something he needs to answer for. 

Henry Cuellar is fighting off a progressive challenge from Squad-backed candidate Jessica Cisneros for the second time, with the two of them advancing to a runoff to see who will prevail towards the end of May.

The latest polling provided by Pew Research suggests that Democrat’s have a lot of ground to make up with the constituencies that brought them victory in 2018. Republicans have amassed a 12-point advantage with men with no college degree and 10 points for those with degrees.

Democrat’s still hold an advantage with women with no degree, but only with 1% advantage. They still are holding onto women with a college degree though, increasing their margins with them to a whopping 38-point advantage. 

That still will not be enough though in many of these districts that Democratic candidates need to run up solid margins before the rural areas begin counting their votes. This is not to say it is not impossible that Democrat’s at least hold one of the chambers. 

It is just highly improbable that they will. Which is sad because many of the Republicans running now are just seeing how close they can tie themselves to Trump and are not expressing actual visions for how they want to lead the country; more on that next time though!