Beyond Occident – an opinion column by Avatans Kumar that explores a native perspective on the Indian diaspora

Democrats Lose the House, Minority, and College-Educated Voters

Americans cast their votes for the 2022 Midterm elections on November 8. But several weeks later, the final constitution of the Congress remains to be determined. 

The GOP’s underwhelming performance in the election wasn’t the “thumping” nor the “shellacking” former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had received in the 2006 and 2010 midterms, respectively. But President Joe Biden’s party ceded the control of the House to the GOP and, in the process, also lost several key constituents of its voting coalition.

The GOP failed to capitalize on a highly unpopular president’s near-bottom (37%) approval ratings. A bungled pandemic response by the Biden-Harris administration, historic inflation levels, food and energy security issues, and the looming threat of a nuclear war, too, failed to pay dividends for the GOP. 

At the same time, Mr. Biden’s party couldn’t cash in on the perceived anger against the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade or by dangling an unconstitutional dole out of student loan forgiveness just before the elections. Nor did the calculated fear-mongering by the Democrats galvanize their vote bank.

According to the Cook Political Report, Republicans garnered over 4 million more popular votes (54,135,006 votes, ) than the Democrats did, eventually taking majority control of the House with 220 seats.

Democracy in Danger?

Americans were bombarded with the message that the midterms would be one of the most consequential in U.S. history. Democracy was in “danger,” said President Biden. 

Progressives frequently raise the bogey of “Democracy in danger” and other scare-mongering tactics. Biden warned Americans about MAGA (Make America Great Again) calling them “the most extreme” group in U.S. history. He also voiced concerns about Covid perpetrating a “dark winter” in America.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, has repeatedly called Mr. Trump supporters “Domestic Terrorists.” Progressives also whined about gerrymandering by state Republicans. MSNBC host Maria Teresa Kumar claimed that gerrymandering was a key factor in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s (and the GOP’s) win in the midterms. 

But the elections passed off uneventfully, save for some malfunctioning voting machines and long lines that may have robbed many voters of their right to exercise their franchise. For example, voting machines at 70 of 233 polling stations in Maricopa county malfunctioned on election day, prompting the Arizona Attorney General to seek a formal explanation from election officials.

At the same time, gerrymandering isn’t a Republican monopoly. Democrat-led gerrymandering has turned several states, such as New York, California, Illinois, etc., into single-party democracies. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called Illinois “a case study in how democrats change the rules to limit political competition and entrench one-party, public-union rule.”

Vote Counting At Snail’s Pace

Delay in declaring election results clouds the credibility of the election process. The embarrassingly anemic ballot tabulation pace in some hotly contested seats left many races undecided beyond the third week after the elections. 

Multi-day voting, mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, etc., registration without ID, etc., complicate the tabulation of votes and adds to the confusion. Some Democrat-ruled states made the one-off, unprecedented, emergency Covid election measures from 2020 permanent. In California, like Nevada, mail-in ballots postmarked by election day are valid even if they arrive a week later. Alaska has a ranked-choice voting system.

Arizona law requires the counting of mail ballots marked by 7 PM on election day. Maricopa county received 290,000 mail ballots. By law, no one can retrieve these ballots before the polls close and until all voters have left the vote center location. After that, the ballots go through imaging and signature verification. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board stated that, “Any signatures that are flagged can be fixed by the voter (or “cured,” in elections lingo) until Nov. 16, this coming Wednesday.” 

By contrast, Florida, a large-population Republican state, counted all 7 million votes within hours of the election closing. 

Political Re-alignments

Minority and college-educated (4-year college degree) voters have been the backbone of the Democrat Party’s electoral success in the recent past. However, Democrat’s leftward shift in recent years may have ended that streak. In 2022’s midterms, the GOP increased its vote share among minority and college-educated voters to a level not seen in other recent elections.

Continuing the trend that began with former President Donald Trump, the GOP increased its vote share in most demographic categories. Compared to just four years ago, in 2018, Hispanic and Asian support for the GOP jumped 10 and 17 points, respectively, according to exit polls. While blacks voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Democrats, “their vote share dropped 4 points since 2018,” according to Politico. Fourteen percent of black voters favored the GOP in 2022, compared to just 8% in 2020 and 2018. 

A Wall Street Journal survey of nearly 115,000 registered voters revealed that more white college-educated women supported the GOP in the midterms than in the 2018 midterm and 2020 elections. Their votes had gone to the Democrats by 19 points in the last midterms and 21 points in the 2020 presidential election. That preference shrunk to a mere 6 points this year. An outright majority of white suburban women preferred the GOP over the Democrats by six percentage points.  

Hindu Indian-Americans Seek New Allies

After decades of being considered a loyal Democrat vote bank, Indian Americans, especially Hindu Americans, have started to seek new political allies. Events of the last few months – like some Democrat lawmakers’ support for anti-CAA and anti-Farm bill protests in India and the Teaneck (N.J.) Democrat’s resolution comparing many US-based Hindu organizations to foreign hate groups – has given rise to a new Hindu political activism in the U.S. that may pave the way for new political realignment.

In analyzing the midterm election outcome, it’s clear that for all practical purposes, the remaining two years of the Biden tenure will be will be a lame-duck presidency. The President’s agenda is likely to be sharply curtailed without GOP support, which will be harder to come by with a GOP-majority legislative body. With Nancy Pelosi not seeking the leadership of the Democrats in the House and Mr. Biden’s presidential run in 2024 in doubt, we can not overrule a churn in the Democrat Party leadership.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India Currents. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, organization, individual or anyone or anything.

Avatans Kumar is a columnist, public speaker, and activist. A JNU, New Delhi, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus, Avatans holds graduate degrees in Linguistics. Avatans is a recipient...