Froma Harrop

Why did Democrats beat expectations that they’d get swamped on Election Day?

Was it Republican attacks on abortion rights? Was it a misreading of how much the public blamed Democrats for inflation? And what about the role played by fear of crime and the perceived chaos at the border?

It could have been any or all of those things, but only partly. The wrongness of the predictions clearly pointed to something else: Americans had a much bigger concern. They saw democracy with a small “d” in peril and concluded that the big “D” politicians, Democrats, would stave off disaster. That’s why every election-denying Republican running to oversee elections in swing states lost.

President Joe Biden’s political instincts assumed that threats to the sanctity of the vote would defeat the barbarians. And he clearly stated them in his final remarks before the election. They were an appeal to a higher value directed at good Republicans as well as independents and Democrats.

Conservative media not overly friendly to Donald Trump — people who should have cared — were content to just float along, their higher value being defense of tax cuts or mocking silly liberals.

Before the election, a Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “Why Democrats are Losing the Midterms.” It slapped the “far left” label on Pennsylvania’s next new senator, the moderate John Fetterman, and dusted off that easy target, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for the heck of it. The far right played no part in the critique. It was all Democrats offending the good voters. “Perhaps a drubbing on Nov. 8 will jolt the party back to reality,” it concluded.

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The edit’s ending was fine, except “the party” was the wrong party.

In another copy-and-paste opinion, WSJ columnist William McGurn prematurely declared, “All midterm elections are referendums on the president.” McGurn may have been unintentionally right: Perhaps Biden’s closing thoughts about election integrity overshadowed his lousy approval ratings.

The fiery vows to challenge unwanted vote counts — and threats against those doing the counting — undoubtedly aggravated many who would have otherwise supported those who made them. After all, what were these candidates really saying? They were saying that not only will I throw out votes for the other guy but I’ll throw out your votes, too. In other words, you have no say in the matter.

The power in Biden’s remarks came from his not making the issue Rs versus Ds. He was appealing to the many Republicans who were ready to stand up to the election deniers. The candidates among them were the bravest of all.

This writer was not unhappy that Republican Brian Kemp was reelected governor of Georgia. Kemp famously refused to help Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election. In revenge, Trump dredged up former Sen. David Perdue to knock Kemp off in a primary. Georgia Republicans stuck with Kemp, to their credit.

And I’d like to summon a moment of reverence for Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer. He lost the Republican primary for having the courage to vote for Trump’s impeachment. After his defeat, Meijer said, “I would rather lose office with my character intact than stay reelected having made sacrifices of the soul.”

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Meijer’s replacement, John Gibbs, went on to lose in the general election to Democrat Hillary Scholten. Trump-backed Gibbs was certainly not helped by his suggestion that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. Nor that he floated a lunatic conspiracy theory linking a prominent Democrat to Satanic rituals.

That some Democrats tried to help the highly flawed Gibbs win the primary was not the Democrats’ finest hour.

It’s over. The democracy is intact, and that’s the “d” that really mattered.

Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be emailed at [email protected].


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