Tuesday, October 25, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Polls, Trends And Presumptions

The current polling trend indicating voters shifting to

Republican candidates in many, but not all, races

across the country is just that — a speculative trend

and not necessarily what will be decided when the

the ballots are cast and counted.

The American electorate is in a volatile state, trying

to absorb and adjust to a post-pandemic period,

significant inflation, an unsettled stock market,

challenges to societal institutions, general economic

uncertainty, and an unstable global environment.

There is an entire industry dedicated to trying to

influence voters and predict what they will do, and it

includes not only the campaign organizations of the

contesting candidates, but also their political parties;

independent political action committees (PACs); the

media and its reporters, editorialists, and practicing

pundits; various political consultants and advisers,

ad designers, printers and sign makers; and various

political meeting venues.

Republicans are no doubt cheered by so many

election races now being  “in play,” competitive or

toss-ups, but in spite of current momentum, few of

these close races are truly yet decided. Democrats

could ultimately win many of these contests.

As a case in point, the trend in recent days in

Minnesota has been favorable to the GOP, with

the statewide races, according to credible polls,

considered as toss-ups. But the Democratic 

Party (Democratic-Farmer-Labor or DFL) has a

strong urban voter base and an outstanding

get-out-the-voter (GOTV) organization to get its

voter to the polls. While Republicans dominate

rural and exurban areas of the state, the DFL

majorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, in

recent years, have overcome outstate GOP

majorities. Will 2022 be different?  Will

Republican campaign efforts in Minneapolis

and St. Paul — and in particular, with minority

communities, make gains this cycle? Will DFL

efforts outstate make gains for them? Which

voters will be most motivated to go to the polls?

No one knows with any certainty the answer

to these questions until the votes are counted.

My message to everyone is don’t presume 

outcomes, even this close to Election  Day.


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Blue Typhoon Or Red Cyclone?

There are a number of words we use to describe a

powerful storm, including tornado, hurricane, gale,

cyclone, typhoon, and tempest — and words we use

to describe a powerful influx of water, including flood,

tide, wave and tsunami — so just the right word to 

describe a powerful mass human action might 

employ any of these.

A few days before the 2022 national U.S. midterm

election, there is growing evidence that the voters in

this cycle might deliver a powerful message to those

who hold political power, but it is not clear if this

electoral statement will be relatively uniform across

the country or more localized to a particular region.

If the electoral message were to be from the West 

and West Coast, we might prefer to call it a typhoon

like  the storms in the Pacific Ocean, If it comes from

the Midwest, we might prefer tornado or cyclone, If

from the South, we might call it a hurricane like the

storms that rage through the Caribbean and Gulf of

Mexico. If from the East, the word we might choose is

a gale. If it occurs in all regions, it will likely be called

a wave.

It is not known if the voters will make any kind of storm.

Like weather forecasting, political predictions are 

ultimately guesswork. Both use a variety of statistics,

and often rely on precedents, but until a storm hits or

voters actually vote no one knows with certainty what

will happen.

Pundits also designate a partisan nature to their

assessment of a vote by applying “red” to Republicans,

“blue” to Democrats, and “purple” to a mixed result. 

This color code acts as a shorthand method, but it only

describes the winners and losers. There is no color

applied to independents or non-affiliated voters

because candidates who are neither Democratic nor

Republican very rarely win elections. An exception to

this are the occasional environmental issue voters and

candidates who are labeled “green.”

The 2022 national mid-term elections do not seem

likely to fail to make an interim judgment of the voter

mood. In 1934, newly-elected (in 1932) President

Franklin Roosevelt was so popular that his party gained

nine seats from Republicans in the U.S. house, and

Republicans lost ten U.S. senate seats. The only other

times that happened was in 1998 and 2002. More

frequently, the party of the incumbent first-term president

loses seats in the Congress, sometimes dramatically, as

happened in 1994 and 2010.

[Incidentally, one of the 1934 Democratic senate pick-ups 

was by a former haberdasher in Missouri named Harry


Democratic Joe Biden has one of the most unfavorable

voter ratings in the first two years of his first term of any

president in U.S. history. How this will color the results of

the imminent 2022 midterm elections, however, is not yet

clear. Both houses of Congress are currently controlled

by his Democratic Party.

It is very unlikely that 2022 will resemble 1934, but it isn’t

yet likely it will resemble 1994 or 2010. 

Voter-made storms often don’t become visible until a few  

days or weeks before Election Day.


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Control of the U.S. Senate

With less than four weeks until election day, control of

the U.S. senate, appears to be settled by ten races

in Washington state, Nevada. Colorado, Arizona,

Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire,

North Carolina and Georgia.

Senate races in Vermont and Florida, thought to be

toss-ups at the outset of the cycle, seem likely from

latest polls and observations on the ground to have 

Democrat Peter Welch in Vermont and Republican

incumbent Senator Marco Rubio in Florida with 

solid leads.

The previously mentioned ten, however, are toss-ups

with only small poll differences within a true margin of

error. [NOTE: Margins of error published by the 

politers are almost always undrerstated. Current 

polling conditions have changed the percentages

of these margins substantially.)

Republican senate candidates have small leads in 

Nevada, Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina.

Democratic senate candidates have small leads in

Washington state, Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania,

New Hampshire and Georgia. Some of these races

were not close even recently, including  Washington

state, Colorado, Arizona and Pennsylvania, but have

tightened considerably in recent weeks. Because

these the Democratic candidate leads in these four

have narrowed, Republicans are increasingly

optimistic that that an earlier predicted red wave 

might yet happen.

On the other hand, three of those four, Washington state, 

Colorado, and Arizona, have well-funded Democratic

incumbents running, and potential GOP pick-ups of these

seats is an uphill battle. Pennsylvania, is an open seat

now held by Republican Senator Pat Toomey who is

retiring. The Democratic nominee John Fetterman has

seen his once double-digit lead collapse to a virtual tie

in his contest with celebrity physician Mehmet Oz.

Republicans have asserted that most polls undermeasure

conservative voters (presidential polls in 2016 and 2020

clearly did so), so they are particularly optimistic about

Adam Laxalt in Nevada, incumbent Senator Ron Johnson

in Wisconsin, J.D. Vance in Ohio, and Ted Budd in North

Carolina this cycle.

Democrats, however, are optimistic about Senator Maggie 

Hassan in New Hampshire and Senator Ralph Warnock

in Georgia where the incumbents are considerably 

outspending their GOP challengers.

In fact, several of these contests which are in relatively

small states are seeing huge campaign expenditures by

candidates and PACs supporting them. Arizona, Nevada,

Wisconsin and Georgia are examples of this outsized


President Biden and former President Trump have been

campaigning for their party’s candidates in many of these 

races, and numerous pundits, political strategists and

others will be looking for implications of their efforts in the

final results.

Although the current U.S. senate is divided between the

two major parties by a 50-50 tie, Democrats control it

through the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamal

Harris. That most narrow majority is at stake in the

national 2022 midterm elections, and it is conceivable

that another tie would result, or that either party would 

have a fragile 51-49 majority. With the vice president still 

presiding in 2023, Republicans are looking to pick up

2-4 seats in November — but such an outcome with less

than four weeks to go is speculative and in the hands of

the voters.


Copyright (c) 2022 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.