Home 2019 Elections Why I Believe the Futures Markets Wrong in Downgrading the Dems’ Midterm...

Why I Believe the Futures Markets Wrong in Downgrading the Dems’ Midterm Prospects Post-Kavanaugh


This piece began as a comment I posted on the Sunday news summary. I’m presenting it here expanded to include some additional thoughts.


It galls me that the consequence of the whole sordid Kavanaugh affair is that not only do the shameless Republicans get to put this creep onto the Supreme Court but they also enhance their prospects for the midterms a month from now — if the futures markets are to be believed. (Democratic chances to take over the House having been assessed, on Predictit.org, in the low 70s percentagewise before the battle, declining into the mid-60s at this writing.)

But the fact is, I think the futures markets are mistaken in their revising their assessment of the chances of the two parties. The thinking seems to be that the Republican voters — with their seemingly unlimited capacity to believe the unbelievable, so long as it aligns with their partisan interests — have been aroused by this struggle, rallying around Kavanaugh whom they manage to see as the maligned victim of Democrats, feminists, and even George Soros.

I get that.

But the election isn’t being held in the midst of all that Sturm und Drang. It is being held in a month. And my sense of how such things work with human beings is that the side that WON that battle will tend to lapse into forgetfulness and lassitude; whereas the side that LOST that battle will remain in pain and anger, and be activated a month from now to strike back.

Perhaps I’m engaging in wishful thinking, I realize. But I believe that people hold onto their range when something has been taken from them more longer than they hold onto whatever feelings they had that got ameliorated by their prevailing in the battle.

Also, I have another reason for believing that my intuition about this is not just the fruit of wishful thinking: during the whole Kavanaugh confrontation, it was my belief that there was likely a trade-off between success in blocking his confirmation and the prospects for the Blue Wave. In other words, although I hoped for Kavanaugh’s defeat, I also believed that if he were defeated it would energize the Republican base enough to reduce or even possibly eliminate the Blue Wave.

I just hope that a month is enough time for the notoriously short memories of the American public to drain away the feelings that, during this battle, may have energized the Republican base.

Another factor that bears upon the “Is a month time enough?” factor, and that is the impact of this latest defeat upon Democratic voters. More specifically, there’s the question of whether people who might otherwise have voted Democratic will stay home because this latest triumph of the forces of power-lust will leave them demoralized.

I have a couple of thoughts that make me hopeful on that account, i.e. that lead me to believe that by November 6 it will be kindled rage and determination that are ascendant in the Democratic base and not discouragement and despair.

First, I have been most heartened by the way the voices on the Democratic side — our politicians, our journalistic leaders — have immediately come forward with calls to channel our feelings into the fight to win the mid-terms. Even as they acknowledged the pain, they modeled well the idea that this should be just one more source of motivation to throw ourselves into the battle so that the ugly force we’d just witnessed again in action would henceforth be pushed back.

And second, I remember how our side responded to the shocking victory of Trump in the 2016 election. For so many people, Trump’s election plunged us momentarily into a deep pit of pain and hopelessness. That was true for me — for a day. (And when as the culmination of the Kavanaugh fight unfolded, I experienced feelings that reminded me of how I felt on that dark day in November of 2016.)

By Inauguration Day in January, 2017, huge throngs took to the streets in Washington and across the country — the Women’s March — to protest Trump’s ascendance to the Presidency. Tremendous energy for the fight then.

It is true that this was more than two months after the initial depression and despair immediately after the election. But that historic march did not develop overnight, and my sense is that the energies were already gathering well within a month.

So I see grounds for hoping that by Election Day, the weakening effects of demoralization following a painful defeat will have dissipated, and the power of anger and hope and determination will be there to be harnessed for the Blue Wave.

That seems true, surely, for the most motivated on our side — the kind of people who took to the streets in 2017. It is up to those “most motivated” to work between now and Election Day to make sure that it is true, also, for those less fully committed to the struggle– i.e. to see to it that all those whose votes would help save our democracy will get themselves to the polls and vote.


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