State of Play: LAT Politics Ace Goes In-Depth on New Congress; Trump Bombs as Pelosi Draws Back
When LA Times Political Columnist Mark Z. Barabak last visited Newsmakers TV, a few weeks before the midterm elections, he:
a) rolled his eyes at predictions of a "Red Wave";
b) forecast Republicans would take over the House, but gain only about a dozen seats and;
c) calculated that control of the Senate would come down to Nevada.
Nailed the trifecta.
As Barabak, whose four-plus decades of accumulated professional wisdom spared him from following the vast number of lemmings that populate the national press corps right off a journalistic cliff in pursuit of the mythical Republican "Red Wave":landslide, returned to the show on Friday, the GOP had snatched the House by gaining, at best, 10 seats (four - three in California -- are still too close to call), while the re-election of Nevada incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto ensures continued Democratic control of the Senate - regardless of the outcome of next month's runoff in Georgia.
A long-ago reporting partner of the genial host, the LA Timesman explained that perhaps the most extraordinary fact emerging from a night of election night surprises was that voters who identify as political independents favored Democrats overall by about two points, according to exit polls, a remarkable occurrence for a midterm, when the party out of power typically wins the no-party-preference vote by 10 points or more.
Key reasons behind the shift include: the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, which dispossessed women of the constitutional right to have an abortion; the high-profile appearance on the campaign trail of Donald Trump; mainstream anxiety over the "Big Lie" peddled by pro-Trump election denialists; and the revelations of the special House committee that investigated the January 6 insurrection -- all wrapped up in a bow by a large number of Republican candidates simply judged to be whack job extremists (looking at you Doug Mastriano, Dr. Oz, Adam Laxalt, Blake Masters and Kari Lake). The dynamic effectively shaped Nov. 8 as a "choice" election, rather than the typical referendum on the sitting president and his party.
That said, most of the wing nut candidates nonetheless approached 50 percent of the vote in their races; Lake, the wannabe Arizona governor considered the MAGA Warrior Queen, won 49.7 percent of the vote, for example, against Democratic winner Katie Hobbs, with 50.3 percent.
Which means that 1,267,092 Arizona voters looked at the meshuga Trump years and said -- "That, let's have some more of that."
Mark also offers his insights and analysis of two other big political events of the week, as Trump jumpstarted the 2024 presidential race, even before the final 2022 votes are counted, with a bizarre, and widely-panned, re-elect announcement at his Mar-a-Lago Club. The affair was of considerably less historic import than the decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made public a day later, not to seek a leadership position for her party in the new congress.
Plus: that time Dianne Feinstein demanded a reporter stop putting "premature ejaculations in the paper."
CARTOON OF THE WEEK
New Yorker cartoon by Ivan Ehlers.