Monday, October 25, 2021

Michael Barone: GOP Gains Big in Blue-Collar but Narrowly in Affluent State Leg Elections

 State legislative special elections provide an interesting index of partisan sentiment these days. That wasn't so in the late 20th century, when clever local candidates and notables often got voters to cross party lines. But in this century of increasing partisan polarization and straight-ticket voting, local special elections are a proxy for opinion on national issues.

    In that light, consider the results of the two special legislative elections that have resulted in a change of parties so far this year. 

    The first was in Connecticut's 36th state Senate district on Aug. 17. This is the richest state Senate district in Connecticut and may be the richest in all of America. It includes the super-rich town of Greenwich, where Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of presidents, served as moderator of the Representative Town Meeting for 17 years, plus nearly as rich New Canaan and the northern half of Stamford. 

    The 36th district is ancestral Republican country that trended Democratic during Donald Trump's presidency. Republican Scott Frantz won it by 59% to 39% in 2016, then lost 50% to 49% to Democrat Alex Kasser in 2018, who held it 51% to 49% over Republican Ryan Fazio in 2020. Not atypical results for a seat packed with affluent college graduates.

    But in 2021, Kasser resigned, and Fazio regained the seat by a bare 50% to 48% margin. Republicans hailed this as a big victory, but it was more a sign that, after eight months of President Joe Biden, high-income disgust with Trump had crested. 

    The other party flip happened this month in the demographically dissimilar Iowa 29th state House district, which includes most of Jasper County and industrial Newton, the former longtime home of Maytag. It's an area with many blue-collar workers and union members and was long a safe Democratic district. Democrat Wesley Breckenridge won it twice by double digits -- 51% to 38% in 2016 and 59% to 41% in 2018 -- but by only 52% to 48% in 2020. After he resigned in 2021, Republican Jon Dunwell won on Oct. 12 by a 60% to 40% margin.

    Trump lost in 2020 because he fell behind his 2016 showing among upscale voters and did not make sufficiently compensating gains among downscale white and minority voters. The Greenwich and Newton legislative results suggest Republicans have staunched the bloodletting among the affluent and have regained momentum with downscale voters. 

    This is in line with CNN analyst Harry Enten's observation that, since April 2021, Republicans have been running well-ahead of their November 2020 levels. It's consistent with the widespread sense that Democrats are likely to lose -- and may lose by a lot -- the narrow 222 to 213 House majority they won in 2020.

    The wild card in this is, as always in years ending with "2," redistricting. Democrats control redistricting in relatively few states but seem to be bent on aggressively eliminating the few Republican seats in Illinois and New York, and are even targeting the single Republican seats in Maryland and New Mexico. 

    Note the deafening silence of the liberals who have been lamenting that Republican redistricting threatens the end of democracy. Similarly, liberals were nonplussed by gerrymandering when Democrats controlled most redistricting in the 1962, 1972 and 1982 cycles. Sauce for the goose but not for the gander. 

    But as the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman points out, redistricters can be incompetent or too clever by half. If you create a bunch of 52% districts for your party, you're liable to lose all of them when your party's numbers go down a few points.

    Over the long run, it's probably smarter to shore up your incumbents, as Texas Republicans are doing, and to concede to the other side some seats where the tide has been going their way. In the 1980s, the affluent north Dallas and west Houston districts were the most Republican in the country. But they flipped Democratic in 2018, and now Republicans are making them more Democratic for 2022. 

    One more note on redistricting. The supposedly nonpartisan redistricting commissions enacted in some states and lavishly praised by liberal commentators aren't working out so well. Inevitably, they've become partisan slugfests, for who other than partisans would want to spend their time drawing district lines on maps? Political science professors? More than 95% are Democrats. Think tankers? All committed to one side or the other. Journalists? You've got to be kidding. 

    The plain though perhaps unpalatable fact is that there always will be politics in politics, especially in times of close partisan competition -- even, or especially, in special elections to state legislatures. 

    Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.



Anonymous said...


10,000 words on the contents of a ping pong ball...

Anonymous said...

Republicans have made inroads in minority communities all over the country. Look at Miami safe and the Latino community there are overwhelming Republican as are large portion of rural small towns of Hispanics in Texas… I attended college in Boston and I can attest that the white affluent aren’t drawn by the republicans at all. It’s the blue collar workers in the mid west like Indians West Virginia Ohio Michigan Pennsylvania Wisconsin etc that will drive this ship. Hollywood and New England all white affluent are dug in the liberal party and always will be. So yes go for the workers.

Anonymous said...

Only 764 words. You not only can't read you assuredly can't count.

Anonymous said...

Which is really odd considering that Democrats are more likely to support programs that benefit blue collar workers.

Which are increasing minimum wage and taxing the very rich and making wanting to make sure cities can fix their water systems and city/county roads and bridges instead of it all going to major highways and corporate access roads.

The blue collar workers are getting so scammed. Manchin is selling W.Va. out for the " wagon wheel " industries in his State and Sinmena for the hotel owners and casino billionaires in hers.

And, of course, MS is so dependent on federal dollars that we cut off our nose to spite our face all the time.

Anonymous said...

@11:00 am... blue collar workers do NOT earn minimum wage. Blue collar workers make up the middle class for the most part. Democratic policies are merely Socialism under another name. This country has not been a true Republic since the 1950s.

Just a normal dude said...

@11:00 AM knows that he/she is a lapdog of the mega-rich that works against the interests of blue collar workers. His/her intent is to satiate the whims of his/her mega-rich donors.

FYI 11:00 AM, the Republicans are the party of the working class and you are a lapdog.

Anonymous said...

11:00 : Check that koolaid for a false Covid test. I kid because I care. Those two are actually making sure they aren't skull drug in the streets a couple years from now for backing what will surely break this country for good.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:23 - It's damned near midnight. Lemme try reading that again tomorrow. Night.

Anonymous said...

Liberalism is a disease. All of my friends on social media who were toting the water for Biden before the election are nowhere to be found to sing his graces. They have all but disappeared into the bushes like cowards who cannot face the fact Biden is a bumbling failure. But I remember how vile they were and will not let them forget it.

Anonymous said...

11:51 . the two senators are smarter than the other ones and are making sure they are on the right side of history. I would bet both of them switch sides before 2022 elections. As they should.

Anonymous said...

For those commenting on D or R politicians being the correct side for blue collar workers, I say neither are. They both serve the elite who have differing ways of trying to stay in power. We need to "kill" our masters and get leaders who are truly "by the people and for the people" of this great republic. We should all be against the current garbage in the offices of our great land. They do not lead for the good of all Americans, but only the elite. And sadly, we have been tricked into believing that we should worship the elite.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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