What a weird election. Republicans had looked forward to the midterms with great anticipation, figuring that inflation and crime were problems for which voters would punish President Biden’s Democrats. When the “Red Tsunami” — or even “red wave” — failed to materialize, the emotional letdown for conservatives was severe. Many in the media were on a similar roller-coaster ride, only in reverse.
In the days leading up to the Nov. 8 election, when most observers believed that Republicans would sweep to victory, feelings were raw on ABC’s “The View.” Co-host Sunny Hostin likened women who vote for Republicans to insects who vote for their own demise.
Tying voting to opinions on abortion, Ms. Hostin said, “It’s almost like roaches voting for Raid [insecticide], right?”
On MSNBC, presidential historian Michael Beschloss worried about a future under GOP control where scholars like himself would be outlawed. And he breathlessly claimed that the midterm elections presented the dire questions of “whether we will be a democracy in the future, whether our children will be arrested and conceivably killed.”
Worrying about the mass arrest and execution of young people is stressful business, but thankfully, The New York Times was ready with advice for readers looking for ways to handle it.
The Times suggested going for a walk around the block to relieve election-induced stress, or something called “five-finger breathing.” But the clear winner was the admonition to “plunge your face into a bowl with ice water for 15 to 30 seconds.”
It was so bad they were coaching fellow liberals on taking the Polar Bear Challenge while sitting at their desks.
On CNN the Sunday before the election, they were writing the obituary before the death had occurred. Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said of her party, “We did not listen to voters in this election, and I think we are going to have a bad night.”
For some, preparing the public for the looming apocalypse included a revised history lesson on Election Day timelines.
“Election results always take time,” The New York Times tweeted, cautioning readers not to expect to know who won or lost for days, or weeks, in some cases. This should be confusing for many people, because, except for very young voters, most of us can remember knowing election results on the same day almost every year.
Early on election night, the results from the governor’s race in Florida came in and sent the leftists on television news sets spiraling. Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to reelection by crushing Democrat Charlie Crist, and you could sense analysts bracing themselves for a bad night ahead for Democrats.
But it didn’t take long for results in key states and congressional districts to show that the predicted Republican blowout wasn’t taking shape.
Exit polls confirmed what preelection surveys had found, which was that voters cared about inflation, the economy and crime. But Democratic candidates were doing better than expected.
At the Huffington Post, they quickly turned the page on what had previously been conventional wisdom about Democratic tactics.
“So the early Dem bed wetting over messaging and whether focusing on abortion and democracy too much was the right call feels … off, now?” tweeted HuffPo senior politics reporter Igor Bobic.
At this writing, the final tallies are unknown, but the Republicans figure to retake the House of Representatives, while control of the Senate is still very much uncertain. And though Democrats and the media may try to convince you otherwise, losing control of the House is a big deal for any president.
But the Daily Beast weighed in with post-election spin under the headline, “We Still Don’t Know Who Won, But Republicans Lost.”
Opinion writers at USA Today called it a “red ripple” instead of a wave.
Over at CNN again, Chris Cillizza enthused, “Oh, what a night!”
By Wednesday, The Washington Post had already determined that Mr. Biden had saved his own skin in the midterm elections, writing that he “tamped down Democratic calls for him to consider ending his presidency after one term.”
Also at the Post, Dana Milbank declared that the “biggest loser” of the election was the news media, for the sin of getting a story wrong in a manner detrimental to Democrats for once.
“I’m sorry to say that my colleagues in the political press blew it,” he wrote.
To be fair, most everyone missed their election predictions. Republicans had a disappointing night, Democrats had an encouraging night, and the media, well … in the end, their team did well again.
• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and the founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs, a communications consulting firm where he advises political candidates and corporate clients.