I like to say that there are plenty of moral victories in politics, just not on election day. You can work hard and lose a presidential election by just five hundred votes, and the corrupt President who takes office can do every bit as much damage to the country as he would have if he’d won by five million votes. In a winner take all scenario, coming close does you no good.
But even as most experts (including ones who previously thought it was likely) are now saying it’s nearly impossible for the Democrats to win the House majority, the reality is that the Republicans are looking at the tiniest of House majorities. If that’s how it ultimately plays out, it’s not a moral victory for us; it’s a tangible victory.
Think about how dumb and weak willed someone like Kevin McCarthy is. Now consider he’s probably the Republicans’ best hope of finding a viable Speaker of the House within their current ranks. Imagine someone as inept as McCarthy trying to keep this current crop of corrupt, selfish, deranged, and unhinged House Republicans under control. It would be difficult enough if McCarthy had a ten or twenty seat majority. Now imagine him trying to keep it together with a one or two seat majority.
For that matter, imagine McCarthy even so much as becoming Speaker with a one or two seat majority. The Democrats can nominate anyone they want, and they could easily nominate Liz Cheney. It doesn’t matter that she’ll no longer be a House member; literally anyone can become Speaker with 218 votes. All it might take is just one or two House Republicans, who see this as a sinking ship and want to preemptively distance themselves, from it, to vote for Cheney and she’d be Speaker. And most current House Republicans hate her.
This is why Marjorie Taylor Greene is now openly desperate to try to unite the House Wacko Caucus behind McCarthy. Even Greene seems to understand that uniting behind a weakling like McCarthy is the least bad of their uniformly bad options. Even now, Matt Gaetz is openly trying to sabotage McCarthy seemingly just for fun, even as House Republican Don Bacon – who just narrowly won reelection in a tossup district and seems to want to distance himself from this mess immediately – is now leaking that he’d be willing to vote with the Democrats (and against his fellow Republicans) to elect a reasonable Speaker.
That’s how much of a dumpster fire House Republicans are potentially facing over the next two years. This current crop of House Republicans wasn’t built to govern, or to function, or to do anything constructive. Most of them are deranged hair-on-fire protest candidates, who were spitefully elected by far right districts who got caught up in the Donald Trump “burn it all down and we’ll be left standing atop the rubble” wave. Now these unhinged stooges are supposed to run the House?
At this point even the secretly reasonable among them, if there are any, are surely wishing they hadn’t won the House majority, or that they might still somehow lose it. Tiny majorities in large bodies are always a breeding ground for individual members of the majority to hold up their party’s agenda for their own benefit. Look what Manchin and Sinema did to us. And we only had two such opportunists. House Republicans have a hundred such opportunists.
That’s why there’s a world of difference between handing House Republicans, say, a ten seat majority and a two seat majority. A ten seat majority can only be hijacked by a coalition of ten or more members, and McCarthy can try to bribe any one of them into coming around on each vote.
But a two seat majority can be hijacked by something as simple as any two House members deciding to trust each other not to cave and hold up the agenda together. Then McCarthy (or whoever ends up Speaker) can’t just buy one of the two off each time a swing vote is needed.
Of the toss up House races that we targeted with our activism, 33 of them have been called so far, and we’ve won 26 of them. That’s a remarkably high percentage, and it shows that if you put in the work on these close races, you can help determine the outcome in most of them.
If we hadn’t put in the work on those 33 toss up races, how many would we still have won out of luck or happenstance? There’s no way to know for sure, but these were all supposed to be coin tosses. If we’d put in no work, it’s hard to imagine we’d have just lazily lucked our way into 26 out of 33.
If we’d ignored these 33 toss up races and lost half of them, we’d be handing House Republicans perhaps a 10-14 seat majority instead of what may be a 1-4 seat majority. That’s a huge difference in terms of whether the Republicans will be able to carry out their evil agenda.
Another thing we learned this election cycle: persuadable voters in the middle hate voting for jerks, doofuses, election deniers, extremists, loons and incompetent people. In numerous states we saw Trump-like Republicans generally did worse than other Republicans when they were on the same statewide ballot together.
And now House Republicans are looking at the “gift” of a tiny majority that’ll force them to try to come together, govern, and lead – three things the current House Republican caucus was not built for. If they look like idiots for two years, we’ll hold a huge advantage going into 2024.
So if the House Republicans do win a tiny majority, as is now widely predicted, good luck to them. Everything they ineptly and embarrassingly screw up will make them a laughingstock, and it’ll make persuadable voters hate them. 2024 will, improbably, be a “change election” in favor of the Democrats – even with the Democrats going into 2024 with a Senate majority and an incumbent President running for reelection.
That’s not “optimism” on my part. It sucks, and I mean it sucks, that we came this close to winning the House majority and failed. Many of you put in the work, and you should be very proud of that. Plenty of you just stared at your screens for the entire election cycle, and you should know that if you had bothered to get involved, you could easily have given us the House majority. Please get involved next time. We win more together!
But you know what? The hard work was worth it, because good luck with the tiny majority we saddled you with, House Republicans. You unfit inept right wing loons would have struggled to govern even with a ten or twenty seat majority. Good luck trying it with no room for error.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report