Just like in 2016 — something that should sound ominous to the independents and Blues — some large swath of the population perceives that they are being ignored. Also like 2016, this perception motivates voters. The Blues, and to a lesser extent the independents, do not see this motivation because they are busy dismissing the concerns of that swath of the public. This is, of course, why that large swath feels ignored. And the world turns.
Imagine a conversation, any conversation from one on ones to public square discussions, that goes something like this:
First person: “Listen to me. You should [vote for, believe, support] X because of reasons A, B, and C.”
Second person: “Well, I do not [believe, support] X because — “
First person: “How can you possibly not?! It’s obvious! Do you not hear A, B, and C? Obviously you aren’t listening. You must be a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
Who is actually not listening in that conversation?
The practical takeaway from this imagining: the 2018 mid-term was the Democrats election to lose, and they seem poised to lose it. Oh, I exaggerate a bit. “Lose” is relative here. They expect a Blue Wave like a tsunami but may only get one of those gentle rollers that breaks with the thinest line of foam, the kind that toddlers jump over on a sunny day at the beach. But they could also get something they aren’t expecting at all — because they aren’t listening.
Six weeks ago I would not have bet against a Blue Wave. In fact, I said as much. But things have changed. The Kavanaugh hearing started it. Before that show, Democratic ranks filled with the kind of voters who would walk over broken glass to get to the polls. (…) Meanwhile, the right relied on resigned voters. These voters would go to the polls, civic duty and all that, but many weren’t excited about voting. We had a wide enthusiasm gap when even a narrow gap can effect results, especially in state and local races — to which we still aren’t paying sufficient attention, by the way.
The Kavanaugh hearing closed that enthusiasm gap. Blues couldn’t get functionally madder. They were already going to crawl over broken glass to vote. But Reds became broken glass voters. Thus, with everyone’s voters eager to vote, something that early voter numbers have since confirmed, a Blue Wave became less likely.
But the late hit on Kavanaugh infuriating the right is not the only thing that may have changed the mid-term dynamic. How many middle-minded men saw themselves in Kavanaugh? And for readers’ whose first thought sounded like: “Excellent! It’s about time they saw themselves as the past, potential, or even accidental predatory males they are!” — that’s basically my point. The conventional wisdom has not seemed to notice the possibly that men may have seen themselves as potentially falsely accused.
The left’s typical assumptions about men knock a logical possibility off of their radar. Note, that the truth about Kavanaugh is irrelevant for this analysis. Perception is what matters here. Could the Democrats’ handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation have lost them votes? Did they even ask themselves that question? How many men planning to be part of the Blue Wave had second thoughts?
Then, what about women? How many mothers of sons changed their minds? For example, a friend recently became a mother of four with the birth of her first son. I’ve discussed politics with her for years. She has always understood arguments about misandry, but she also told me it all felt more personal, urgent, once she was expecting a son. How many middle-ish women with sons felt a transformation like that? I’ve seen realizations about misandry coming sooner to mothers of sons, and I wonder if the treatment of Kavanaugh was particularly jarring.
But the Kavanaugh hearing only started the change.
The news of the caravan tells a similar story to those willing to listen. Left and center pundits have been dismissing the caravan as no big deal and scoffing at anyone worried about it. That scoffing irks even conservatives who support more open immigration. We (I count myself in this wider immigration cohort) know that immigration has many practical considerations. Take only education for an example. Houston, which takes in many of the country’s immigrants, legal and otherwise, is full of elementary, middle, and high school campuses with temporary buildings. School district building projects cannot keep up with incoming students. One might argue that this is because of Texas school financing mess. It is a mess, no doubt about that, but one of the main factors stressing school funds and prompting crappy budget workarounds is immigration. Before schools even get to building new classrooms, they have to implement English as a Second Language programs. They must address cultural practices, transportation, nutrition — the list is long and complicated. And it ain’t cheap.
So even if I or someone like me thinks we can and should absorb more immigrants, I am not so foolish as to blow it off as no big deal. Furthermore, I know that it is not an illogical position — much less an evil one — to want to take care of current citizens before adding the financial and personnel burdens of caring for new arrivals. So all of the pooh-poohing of the caravan sounds like lectures from a bunch of tone deaf Tonies who will expect other people to actually deal with immigrants or implement the programs to support them. I’ve only seen one lefty writer even see this perspective so far, but I’ve heard Hispanics talk about the caravan — and not in the way the conventional wisdom expects.
All the while the Blues are debating whether they can really say there is a Blue Wave coming. They worry that their confidence would suppress their voter turnout. One, with the turnout numbers from early voting, the idea that this election will turn on voters who stayed home is nonsense. Two, they should worry about plain over confidence. There is a far from zero chance that the increased turnout numbers don’t signal a Blue Wave, but a Red one. Best I can tell, few have even considered the possiblity.
In Texas early voting numbers, around 20% of the voters do not have a voting history to plug into pollesters’ predictive algorithms. Some are young, first time voters, which usually bodes Blue, but then the iGen is more conservative than Millennials. How much more conservative? We don’t know. They just started voting in 2016. Other voters are just new. Pollsters do not know enough about any of these voters to attempt a prediction, and that’s if the old assumptions hold, which is not exactly a safe bet these days.
I do not claim to know what will happen tomorrow. With these numbers, anything goes. What I do claim: the right, in general, is more aware of and prepared for the full range of possibilities, while the left, in general, is hoping for a big wave, braced for a small wave, and will be shocked to their cores by anything else. Kinda like in 2016.
About the Sunday email and Iron Ladies
Sometime after the election, certainly after the hot takes, I will do a final round up of conservative women’s perspectives. I’ll include some recommended reads and women to follow in the future. After that, I am moving on. I’m going full local for politics and shifting to a project I’ve had on the back burner for too long: modern life administration. As in, I’m going to teach young people how to do it, merging the old ways with the new. It’s still keeping with the same goal I had in my writing, bridging gaps, but using community instead of being another of thousands of freelance pundits trying to persuade. I wasn’t just brainstorming here:
I have no regrets about attempting this project to present conservative women’s perspective to the con-curious. I am disappointed it did not turn out as I thought, or hoped. But I learned. A lot.