I read this tweet earlier today. Early voting has not only been dominated by Democrats, as it typically is, but is quite measurably moreso than in previous midterms.
The numbers we're seeing are not a result report. They're simply the party affiliation of the people who've cast their ballots so far. But they are very encouraging. With 15-16% greater quantity of ballots cast by this time in 2020, we're also seeing a trend even more into the favor of Democratic candidates and issues. That's encouraging, but I think another statistic is hiding in plain sight.
The House of Representatives, according to the Cook Political Report's "Partisan Voting Index," or PVI
, states that after the decennial census-based redrawing of Congressional districts in 2022, the GOP enjoys a one-point advantage nationwide, producing a forecast Republican takeover of the House by 11 seats in the upcoming election. By this time in early voting in 2020, the Republicans were down by 15 points. Obviously they made that difference up with in-person, absentee, provisional, and mail-in voting that was counted on and after election day. When the dust settled, the GOP's win/loss map pushed their share of House seats to within about ten seats of the Democrats, who managed to hang onto a slim majority, indicating that the GOP was underwater by about one point, an improvement over their standing in 2018.
With 15-16% more votes registered, the deficit the GOP faces in 2022 is 18 points. So not only do the Republicans have a greater deficit to overcome than they did in 2020, but they have fewer uncounted voters left to do it with. It occurs to me though that the tweet is talking about two previous elections: 2018 and 2020. The 2018 election ended with a Democratic lead in the House by 3-4 points, and that lead was reduced to about 1 point in 2020. Whether the GOP deficit at this stage of early voting was 15 points in 2018 or 2020, the fact that the GOP's lag is now 18 points(ie: 3 points worse than either of two losing years) does not bode well for their supposed "lock" on retaking the House.
This also does not take into account the votes of unaffiliated voters. 11% of votes cast by this time in 2020 were unaffiliated, compared to 10% as of now, in this election. The direction they will lean is a subject of great disagreement, but I personally think most unaffiliated voters are turning out to vote for the rights the GOP plans to take away if they take power again. This information is all very early, but the signs are nonetheless consistent with my blue-wave-adjacent predictions.
Putin is losing. He cannot accomplish any military goals in Ukraine. Simple as that. Even when his army was fresh, well-equipped, and composed almost entirely of well-trained(compared front-line soldiers fighting for Russia now) professionals, he failed to penetrate to Kyiv, so outmatched was he by Ukrainian forces with far superior training and leadership. There are many column-inches that can be devoted to this single topic, so I will just summarize: Putin was never winning. He conducts combat operations in Ukraine with forces as exhausted, low in morale, poorly equipped, poorly trained, poorly led, and as poorly supplied as any there have ever been. They are well aware that the role of new soldiers on the battlefield is to get killed, for the sole purpose of revealing Ukrainian firing positions to Russian artillery teams.
While Putin cannot win, he is not yet defeated. He has one last trick up his sleeve. He has shifted his focus largely from military achievement to terrorism, and has stepped up the rhetoric about the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The latter component of his strategy is to frighten the West into forcing Ukraine to accept Putin's current occupied positions in five Ukrainian oblasts(Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Crimea) so he can stand down from his unsustainable military commitment, re-establish commercial goodwill with Europe and get the money flowing again, and regroup his forces for another push sometime in the future. To aid in this, honorless American media personalities like Gutfeld
, and Ingraham
have been carrying water for him since before day 1, and have been steadily turning the war into a Republican-versus-Democrat issue.
Putin's levers of influence in American politics are connected to the Republican Party, and hard-right extremist channels. As such, it's difficult to estimate how these entities would behave without his influence. Using these levers, Putin is arguably highly culpable for the level of political division in this country, through his influence on right-wing officials and media. But the point is that he has tremendous influence on them, and he is using it to try to sell appeasement to the West as peace.
Most people in the US and elsewhere are of the opinion that a Russian nuclear strike would equate to and diplomatically require a retaliatory nuclear strike from the US, NATO, or some other Western country, with the strikes escalating to the point of the effective end of modern civilization as we know it. This opinion doesn't account for two very important things. First, nobody in a position to make decisions like that for Russia or the West thinks that robotically, or that fatally. If a nuclear strike is executed against them, they know that a nuclear response will just prompt further escalation. They know this, so their policy is not to end civilization if a strike occurs. Second, and most importantly, the world isn't fully aware of the gargantuan imbalance of military power between NATO and Russia. The world has never known a military force with even a fraction of the might of NATO. If Russia executed a nuclear strike anywhere in the world, NATO would eradicate Russia's military within days, starting with its nuclear capabilities, within minutes.
Putin and all of his inner circle are well-aware of this. But they also know that most people are not. So Putin can use fear on the world stage, and terrorism in Ukraine, to try to break the will of the West to continue to support Ukraine. I support peace. But there can be no peace with Putin.
Too Petulant to Lose
The American far-right is objectively dangerous, and is now more powerful than it has been at any point in my lifetime-- and probably the lifetime of any living person. I have heard many times, as a counterpoint to the sentiment I just expressed, the argument that there is a "far-left" that poses an equivalent danger to democracy, economy, and freedom. Thing is, that just isn't the case. I will happily admit that there is a far-left fringe of American politics, but a glaring difference between it and the far-right is that it is not represented in mainstream media, popular policy, or any elected federal office. It's true that Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal sit resolutely to the left-of-center, but the policies they work to promote are supported by a majority of Americans, and more than a supermajority of their own constituents. That isn't extremism. That's majority rule. That's representative Democracy. That's a reflection of the fact that ours is a center-left country.
In 2020, Steve Bannon said that Trump would take advantage of the fact that mail-in, absentee, provisional ballots, and just slow-to-count districts produce a delay in knowing the election's outcome with certainty, and declare victory well before the votes had all been sufficiently counted. From signs I'm seeing this time around, this is going to be an increasingly important part of far-right strategy. This is a hard and resolute strategy now for the GOP: Leverage the natural mistrust MAGA voters have of poll workers who don't fit the mold of straight, white, and Christian. MAGA-adherent candidates, elected officials, and pundits are already calling into question the validity of votes in major cities, where votes are overwhelmingly to the left-of-center, before any are even counted or in many cases, cast.
On election night, I fully expect to see victory declarations by Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Brian Kemp and Herschel Walker in Georgia, Blake Masters and Kari Lake in Arizona(especially Kari Lake), Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and Adam Laxalt in Nevada. There will be abundant press coverage, but no major networks will call the elections, except perhaps Fox News, as they will be terrified of losing extremist viewers to OAN and Newsmax's coverage, where they will absolutely be falling in line with GOP candidates' premature declarations of victory.
It's extremely likely that we will not have a good picture of the election's overall outcome when we go to bed on Tuesday night. Just like in 2020, counting will likely continue across the country for several days, as red mirages fade to blue in a way that seems to be just about the most effective way to outrage Republicans in existence. But I do guarantee one thing: if any of the candidates(and many others) lose, they will gather their supporters to claim it was rigged. Jonathan Last said on a recent podcast that Republicans are scared of fraud and election rigging, so certain are they of their majority that the only possible explanation for a loss is foul play. The Democrats are scared of losing to the Republicans.
The Case for Pieces of Shit
J.D. Vance famously said he doesn't care about Ukraine, because "Mexican Fentanyl" is entering the country and killing Americans. Let's leave aside that he's probably courting or placating the GOP faction that's loyal to Putin, or perhaps Putin himself. Let's also leave aside the disgusting inhumanity of dismissing the genocidal suffering of literal millions of people as being subordinate to Vance's own political concerns.
Let's talk about Fentanyl. It's a opioid painkiller that is extremely potent. A slight miscalculation in measuring doses can be fatal to the patient. This is how we lost Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, and Prince. Fentanyl overdoses account for a large number of other high-profile untimely celebrity deaths. One complicating factor is that the body's natural processes make the drug less effective on each use, meaning that people often step up the dosage when they're in pain, to their intense peril. In addition, it's exceptionally addictive, and withdrawal symptoms are universally miserable and agonizing.
A clip has recently surfaced:
The man with the mic makes a really good point when he says that drug dealers want to sell their drugs, and not give them away to children for free. The woman he's interviewing defends her position, saying, "just watch an episode of Fox News!" On the surface, it sounds ignorant, as Fox News isn't a show. But it occurs to me that the sentiment that illegal immigrants from Mexico are actively trying to destroy the US through the use of narcotics disguised as candy, delivered to unwitting children on Halloween, is pretty well in-line with the overall tone of just about any persuasion show on that network.
If you can convince your viewers of this, then you can pretty reliably count on them to vote for pieces of shit like J.D. Vance, despite the fact that he is a miserable, bootlicking, worthless piece of shit.
Fentanyl is expensive. If you're out from under the blanket of insurance and prescription, it can be purchased through illicit channels, the internet reports, for a minimum of about $60 for a gram, but more likely well over $100 and well into the hundreds. In short, it is to the 2010s and 2020s as cocaine was to the US in the 1980s. Expensive, potent, dangerous, and widely trafficked for enormous profit. But there is no profit in handing thousands of dollars worth of this to children. Illicit Fentanyl, sold on the black market from Mexican and Chinese sources, is responsible for, or at least involved in, roughly 70% of all overdoses in the US. But roughly 99.99% of those overdoses happened because people consciously decided to use Fentanyl.
Nevertheless, there is a large population in this country, apparently residing almost entirely within the MAGA movement, in which the common belief is that Joe Biden wants to destroy the country by keeping the Mexican border "wide open"(note: it's not), so "illegals" can bring Fentanyl into the US to trick people into taking too much of it and dying. Jerry Bruckheimer couldn't concoct a more embarrassingly bad plot.