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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Outsiderism 2024

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The 2024 race has begun.

Theodoric Meyer and Leigh Ann Caldwell at WP:
Five Senate Republican challengers have never held public office. In four of those states — Wisconsin, Ohio, Montana and Pennsylvania — the Democratic incumbents have served in public office for more than two decades. (The fifth state is Nevada, but Sen. Jacky Rosen is a relative newcomer to politics who is running for her second Senate term.)

Republicans bet this is an election in which voters will gravitate toward outsider candidates as congressional approval ratings have hovered at 15 percent for the past six months, according to Gallup.
“Voters are sick of do-nothing career politicians. That is going to be a real problem for these Democrat Senators who have been sitting in office for decades,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Mike Berg said.

The career politician attack has been used time and time again with mixed results — because of the strength of candidates and the mood of the electorate.

In 2018, the first election under President Donald Trump, annoyed voters kicked out incumbents. Nine percent of House incumbents lost, all of them Republicans except for two Democrats who lost their primaries, handing Democrats the majority. It was the third-lowest reelection rate of House members since 1994, according to OpenSecrets.

Indiana Republican Mike Braun sensed the mood in 2018. In his primary, the first-time candidate used the political outsider theme, catapulting him from behind to beat his challengers, Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer (remember cardboard cutouts?). He went on to defeat Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the red state. (Donnelly voting not to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh also played a major role in his loss.)

It was less effective in 2022

But in the last election, in 2022, voters wanted little change despite a sour mood on the economy, Republican lobbyist and political consultant Bruce Mehlman wrote in a memo after the midterms, calling it the “least change-y change election since 2002.” Every Senate incumbent won reelection, and 94.5 percent of House incumbents won.

It’s too early to tell whether this year will be a change election. One big unknown is the how the top of the ticket — the candidates for president — will play into the career politician critique.

Biden was first elected to the Senate nearly 52 years ago. Trump bills himself as an outsider but is a former president. Both men are unpopular.