Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.
This is today’s Daily Reformer. You can receive it free in your in-box six day per week by signing up here.
Happy Election Day! Will it be our last one? LOL I kid. Democracy crashing does not mean the end of elections — after all, they have elections in Russia and Iran.
Reformer reporters will be at polling places looking for shenanigans. Let us know if you see any gun-toting red hats trying to intimidate voters or election judges.
Michelle Griffith has your election questions, answered.
Deena Winter reports on the Monday sentencing in a case related to ballot fraud:
Minneapolis DFL Sen. Omar Fateh’s brother-in-law and campaign volunteer was sentenced Monday to six months of house arrest and two years of probation for lying to a grand jury during a ballot fraud investigation.
A DFL source tells me to expect 65% turnout in Minneapolis, which is shy of 75.7% in 2018, though that was a massive turnout year. Can GOP-heavy outstate precincts overcome the big Hennepin and Ramsey numbers, and are the suburbs swinging?
On tap: election prognostications, inflation, pre-mortems and a playlist for your frazzled nerves.
Predictions: Get ‘em here
GOP pundit #1:
Gov: Walz 48, Jensen 47, Other 5
AG: Schultz 51, Ellison 43, Other 5
SOS: Simon 49, Crockett 41, Other 9
State Senate: 39-28 GOP
State: House 76-58 GOP
CD2: Kistner 51, Craig 47, Other 3
Hennepin County Attorney: Holton Dimick 52, Moriarty, 48
DFL pundit #1
Gov: Walz +4
AG: Schultz +6
SoS: Simon +7
Auditor: Whoever is running against Blaha +2
State Senate: 36-31 GOP
State House: 74-60 GOP
CD2 — Craig in a recount. The biennial dead pot party candidate could cost her, but I just feel that she has done the work.
HCA: Moriarity — Holton Dimick didn’t have the dough.
GOP pundit #2
MN Senate: 36-31 GOP
MN House: 72-64 GOP
CD2 – Craig
DFL pundit #2
MN Senate majority: GOP
MN House majority: GOP
CD2: Kistner (barely, and probably with less than 50% of the vote)
HCA: Holton Dimick
GOP pundit #3
State Senate: 38-29 GOP
State House: 78-56 GOP
DFL pundit #3
Gov: Walz — cannot allow myself to imagine losing the state to Scott (expletive) Jensen.
AG: Ellison? This one is a true coin-flip. Worth a reminder that he was down 7 points in polling very late into 2018. Also: No pot party candidate to siphon votes this time.
SoS: Simon in maybe the biggest margin we’ll see.
State Senate: DFL majority. My darkhorse winner — pure gut.
State House: GOP majority. This one should be super close — might be the best indicator of crime vs. abortion ban messaging.
CD2: Craig — I think she’ll win a bit easier than previously.
HCA: Holton Dimick? — tbh probably the race I have the least feel for.
DFL pundit #4
Gov: Walz 52.2%
AG: Schultz 50.8% [Editor’s note: Name the last time a Republican got 50%+ in a statewide race?]
SoS: Simon 53.9%
Auditor: Blaha 51.25%
State Senate: 35-32 GOP (“and assorted other crazies.)
State House : 72-62 GOP
CD2: Craig 51%
HCA: Holton Dimmick, by less than 1,200 votes
I don’t make predictions in this space — I’m not crazy — but the CW here seems to be Walz, a GOP Legislature, and Jim Schultz becoming the first Republican attorney general in half a century and the first Republican to break the statewide drought in more than 15 years.
And a GOP source made a good point to me Monday: Misinformed voters may think the state auditor should have caught the Feeding Our Future scandal, even though that job has nothing to with it, so could be why Blaha seems to be trailing the DFL ticket so badly.
The inflation scam
There’s been a debate for about a year about the role of ever increasing corporate profits as a cause of inflation. Many mainstream economists have sneered at this explanation, and it’s not been treated very seriously in the national press.
Now here’s Paul Donovan, chief economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, writing in the Financial Times, with the headline: “Fed should make clear that rising profit margins are spurring inflation.” Usually there’s a wage and price spiral in tandem. That’s not really happening this time, though.
Wages have been rising but prices have been rising faster, so real wage growth is catastrophically negative. This is far removed from the 1970s-style wage price spiral; apart from the wage and price control debacle of Richard Nixon’s presidency, US real average earnings rose for much of the decade.
So if we’re not in a wage spiral, what’s happening?
Companies … have taken advantage of circumstances to expand profit margins. The broadening of inflation beyond commodity prices is more profit margin expansion than wage cost pressures.
Demand has remained resilient because people’s balance sheets remain OK, and consumers have essentially been hoodwinked by companies justifying the price increases, Donovan argues.
The implications here are massive, and yet I haven’t seen much about it in the national press.
Pre-punditing and precriminations
Which brings me to today’s expected results: A solid Republican victory, somewhere between the huge gains 2010 and the smaller 2014 victory, as one of our DFL pundits told me he feared.
If you told me two years ago that on Election Day 2022 inflation would be 8.5% and homicide rates up in most American metros, I’d say Democrats are going to have a terrible Election Day. If you told me abortion would be outlawed in some states, I’d say that might help the Democrats a bit, but not enough. And that’s where we are.
People vote their bank accounts. And there’s a lot of what’s called thermostatic public opinion — as soon as policy moves one way, the public will want it to move the other. Which is bad for the party in power, i.e., the Democrats.
These are the fundamentals of the 2022 election, and there’s not much to be done about it.
On the other hand, you only need to move the public a few points to shift an entire election outcome. So maybe a unified and sustained message on inflation — the corporations are scamming us (see above) — might have had the necessary effect. It’s not enough for President Biden to say it; you need to get substantive stories in the media.
And that political strategy may have actually been a good economic strategy. Donovan argues in that FT piece above that the ability to raise prices relied heavily on what he calls “storytelling,” e.g. “Sorry — supply chain issues, your cheeseburger is now $12. So: Tell a different story, e.g., “Corporations are screwing us over with their higher prices so their rich owners can pad their bloated pockets.”
Aside from inflation, the other issue Republicans wanted to highlight is crime. Democrats did a mostly terrible job responding, with a few exceptions, including Gov. Tim Walz, which is in part why he’s favored.
Stanley Greenberg, who has always been on the progressive side of Democratic pollsters, did survey work for the American Federation of Teachers this cycle.
Here’s Greenberg writing in The American Prospect (a reliably progressive magazine.)
In 2021, I created a multiracial and multigenerational team of pollsters … who conducted the research in the African American, Hispanic, and Asian American communities. All of those communities pointed to the rising worry about crime. And they worried more about the rise in crime than the rise in police abuse. Yet Democrats throughout 2021 focused almost exclusively on the latter. Clearly, these communities wanted political leaders to address both.
They weren’t polling white suburbanites. Maybe this helps explain how Republicans are picking up support among working class folks in these Black, Latino and Asian communities?
Greenberg also thinks a sustained GOP push on the crime issue this fall has worked.
Democratic candidates faced a barrage of ads on crime starting in September and early October, a barrage aided by Fox News dramatically increasing its crime reporting. And it worked. It stalled and reversed the momentum Democrats had gained… The 2022 midterms will be remembered as a toxic campaign, but an effective one in labeling Democrats as “pro-crime.” When voters in our survey were asked what they feared the most if Democrats win full control of the government, 56% rushed to choose “crime and homelessness out of control in cities and police coming under attack,” followed by 43% who chose “the southern border being open to immigrants.” Those two outpointed voters’ worries about Congress banning abortion nationally and women losing “equal rights.”
By the heat of the campaign, Greenberg found that Democrats had so little credibility on public safety “that any message I tested this year against the Republicans ended up losing us votes, even messages that voters previously liked.”
Many younger Democrats weren’t alive when Republicans had a field day winning on the crime issue beginning in 1968, all the way up to the presidential election of 1988. Was it racist? Of course. Be that as it may, you still need to know the history and be ready for the same playbook beginning in 2020 and especially this year.
Election Day Playlist
On that dark note, here’s a playlist to soothe your frazzled nerves today. It’s called “Soothe Those Frazzled Election Nerves,” and I want to thank readers who contributed. One reader says the Enya song is best “if you swish around your room flowing with the music.” Noted!
We’ve got Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Savoy Brown and Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole singing
“Somewhere over the Rainbow.” What a playlist.
Be sure to stay tuned to MinnesotaReformer.com tonight for our live feed.
Correspond: [email protected]
Go vote. JPC
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.