ELECTION REFLECTIONS – IGNORE THE POLLSTERS, CHALLENGE THE DEMOCRATS
To let the pollsters tell it, Democrats were going to get a "drubbing" or a
"shellacking" just like the one President Barack Obama experienced in 2010 when
Dems lost 63 Congressional seats and 6 Senate seats. In contrast, Democrats seem to
have gained one Senate seat, and the Georgia runoff may push the number up to
two. There was no "wave" hardly even a red puddle. Despite President Bide's
tepid ratings and economic uncertainty, Democrats did not do badly. As of this
writing, the partisan makeup of the House of Representatives is up in the air, but
even if Republicans take the House, they'll hold onto it only narrowly. Republican
control of Congress will, of course, be a blow to the African American community as
key committees are chaired by members of the Congressional Black Caucus,
including Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) in Education, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) in Banking,
and Finance, Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) in Homeland Security, among others.
The 2022 midterm elections remind us that pollsters spew nonsense and
raise questions about the very nature of polling. It makes me wonder if the
corporate media collaborates with pollsters to maintain the status quo. The
pollsters take to the airwaves predicting, among other things, a red wave. Does it
encourage people to stay home or to get out to challenge the polls? When the drip
drip drip of negative polls is reported as "breaking news" almost every hour on the hour, what impact does it have on the electorate? Who are these pollsters talking to
anyway? How many people? What demographic? What methodology? Are they
doing internet polls? Are they properly sampling Black people? Are they stuck in the
dark ages of landline phones (many people don't have landlines)? Polling
methodology is replete with possible errors, and the voters highlighted those. No
red wave, just a red puddle. The whole polling enterprise needs to be re-examined.
The Democratic Party also needs to be examined. It relies on African
American people as its base, yet it is expert in ignoring Black people when
distributing resources. Organizations like the National Coalition for Black Civic
Participation, Black Voters Matter, and other independent organization get less
support for the Democratic Party than they should. Further, Democratic indifference
or belated focus on Black candidates has impacted the outcome of the midterm
North Carolina's senatorial candidate Cheri Beasley came within 3 percent of
winning the election. Beasley got some Democratic Party support, but it was too
late. In Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes came within 30,000 of winning, but a low
turnout in heavily Black Milwaukee condemned Barnes to a loss. Could the
Democratic Party have funded a ground game in Milwaukee? Did Mandela Barnes
pay enough attention to his natural base? It's easy to do the Monday-morning
quarterbacking about the midterm election. The process of making the Democratic
Party more responsive to Black people is more challenging.
Many of us got tens of emails daily from Democrats asking for funds. It was
always urgent, accompanied by the promise of a 2 or 3 or 4 times match. How much
money goes to candidates, and how much to pollsters and campaign consultants?
How many of these consultants work for the Democratic Party, not the candidate
directly? I prefer to give my money directly to candidate websites and to support
independent voter participation activities, especially those that target Black voters.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans have a majority among voters.
Independent voters are unwilling to declare party allegiance, and often willing to
split tickets, responding to their assessments of individual candidates, not party
affiliation. This increasing independence, especially among young voters, poses a
challenge to both parties. Both democrats and republicans are experiencing intra-
party conflict, which, when combined with gerrymandering, has caused some
Democratic losses in usually Democratic New York state. Ideological puritans say
they won't vote for flawed candidates unless they get their way. They need to
consider what happens when they fail to vote at all.
The 2022 midterm election will be discussed until 2024. However, I hope the
2022 elections taught lessons. The Democratic Party must invest in its African
American base. And all of us must ignore the pollsters.
Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author and Dean of the College of
Ethnic Studies at Cal State LA.