The midterm election is over … just a matter of tallying the votes
In the days when voters cast their ballots on a single day, I would suggest that the election was over several weeks earlier. Now that millions of Americans will have cast their ballots days – and even weeks — before Election Day, that claim is even more legitimate. While we may not KNOW the outcome, the collective vote is already predetermined.
That is simply because virtually every registered voter in America already knows for which party or candidate they will vote – or even if they will vote at all.
The so-called “undecided” voters have already made up their minds. The small percentage of voters who say they are still undecided in the 30 days before Election Day has pretty much decided. In fact, the “undecides” generally are leaners from the onset – and they fall as they lean.
Major events – positive or negative – can have some impact on the undecided prior to the 30-day window. After that, the impact of a major surprise is negligible. The so-called “October Surprise” may draw media attention but rarely changes the pending outcome of an election. Some suggest the October Surprise is not as effective as political strategists believe because voters are cynical about negative information generated in the closing days of a campaign.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was an organization called The Fair Campaign Practices Committee that referred to campaigns in terms of dirty tricks and dishonest claims. One of the admonitions of the Committee was to disregard any bad news that pops up in the last month of a campaign season.
If you survey your family and friends within 30 days of Election Day, you are not likely to find many – and probably none – who do not know if they are going to vote, and for whom. And certainly, there are no large blocks of voter demographics that are open to persuasion in the final days.
Early voting obviously makes my contention that this election is virtually over more compelling. Folks in some states have been casting ballots for days and weeks already. Their votes are locked in and cannot be changed by any last-minute switch based on new information or an October Surprise.
(Early voting in excess of more than 10 days ahead of an election is a corruption of the system, but I will save that analysis for a later commentary.)
So, what about that last minute momentum we see in polling results – mostly from the undecides starting to give their preferences? We must first understand that polling data is a lagging indicator. At best, it will tell us what may have been happening days or weeks in the past – and that is if their information can be trusted at all. In recent years, pollsters have been notoriously inaccurate in predicting outcomes. The actual vote has often been outside their self-proclaimed “margin of error.”
Recent polls suggest that Republican candidates are picking up strength. The momentum is in the GOP’s favor. In fact, the GOP has arguably already gained as much strength as it is going to get. While polls report the past, the outcomes of the vast majority of the thousands of candidacies across the nation are already determined — unknown, but determined, nonetheless.
Efforts to persuade or influence voter choice in the last weeks of a campaign are largely a waste of money. The only potentially effective use of resources is to get voters to the polls.
In a very real sense, the 2022 Midterm Election is largely over. However, the punditry to attempt to predict outcomes is a completely different process. It is not a matter of trying to divine what the voters will do, but what they have already decided. Like the Academy Awards, the names of the winners are known, but not revealed until the envelope is opened.
My admittedly foggy crystal ball tells me that Republicans have a 90 percent chance of taking the House … a 55/45 chance of taking the Senate. The majority of those Republicans who Democrats and the media have labeled MAGA candidates, election deniers, and insurrectionists – and who Democrats have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help them win their Republican primaries – will win their races.
It will be a good day for Republicans across the nation.
So, there ‘tis.