Opinion

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Closing Range

What the Heck Just Happened Again?

Just like in 2016, America’s pollsters, and their co-dependents in the “news media,” really messed themselves

While the political slime hasn’t all oozed away yet, one outcome of Election 2020 is clear: Just like in 2016, America’s pollsters, and their co-dependents in the “news media,” really messed themselves. Again.

Donald Trump, plus Republicans nationwide, were supposed to be pounded into oblivion, but weren’t. As I write this, it looks like Joe Biden will barely win the presidency. Further, Democrats won’t control the Senate, actually lost ground in the U.S. House, and gained almost nothing at the state level.

How could this happen? Well, maybe the math governing the blunt-force application of money in politics isn’t linear after all. There’s apparently an upper limit, where spending too much drives voters away. Way to go, megadonors.

Back in 1996, I took a look at the amount of dough spent for federal elections. The presidential race (Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton) sucked up about a quarter-billion dollars. The total, combining all the races for Congress (435 House and 33 Senate races) with the presidential tally, was a little over a billion dollars.

Today? I did a quick spin through the Federal Elections Commission website, poking about those entities I’ve heard of before to grab some numbers. ActBlue, the Democrats’ funding aggregator platform: $3.4 billion. WinRed, the Republican equivalent: $1.3 billion. So right there, each of these fiscal monsters saw more cash than ALL those in 1996. By those numbers alone, which went to all races at all levels, Democrats should have crushed Republicans, correct? From top to bottom, correct?

Nope. The great Washington Post, which reminds every reader that “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” has a story entitled “Democrats down-ballot misery continues with state legislative battles.” Basically, Democrats had hoped to gather majorities in at least six state chambers, but probably won’t gain at all – which kind of matters in terms of not just long-term “farm team” experience for future federal candidates, but in the short term because of our 2020 Census and associated gerrymandering, ahem, re-districting. Didn’t happen, and furthermore, the mighty Post deigned to mention a “trifecta” for Republicans in both New Hampshire and humble old Montana – both chambers and the governorship.

So much for being a “purple state,” eh? Despite almost $150 million in out-of-state dark-and-not-so-dark cash flooding in, roughly two to one Democrat over Republican, the Montana GOP swept every statewide race, not by much, mind you, but solidly. The Public Service Commissioner races all went Republican. As I write this, it appears the Montana Senate will have 30 or 31 Republicans against 19 or 20 Democrats, and the state House will have 67 or 66 Republicans out of 100.

What’s left “purple” in Montana? Easy, the haze we’ll see once the pot initiative goes into effect – a truly shameful victory for the dark-money machine.

There’s something else becoming really obvious about American politics. We are divided, deeply, split many ways between socialist/capitalist; nationalist/globalist; elites/peasants; educated/ignorant; sectarian/secular; racialist/racist – and one more:

Real Clear Politics’ Congressional district map of America shows a gargantuan Republican vastness bracketed by a solid Democratic wall on the Pacific Coast (left side of your map, of course), an Atlantic coast that is about half blue (north of the Carolinas), with a few isolated clumps of blue centered on large inland cities.

Montana itself shows a lot of the same. Montana’s larger cities (except the Flathead and Kalispell) and Indian reservations are Democratic. But the rest of Montana is solidly Republican. It’s becoming obvious to me that rural Montana is becoming separated from urban Montana, not only physically, but culturally and intellectually.

So, we in Montana are like the rest of America. No matter where we live, all of us are on one side or the other of a multifaceted rural/urban divide.

One side doesn’t understand the other side at all. Which is that? The urban side, of course. Rural America knows all about urban America’s issues and problems – that’s all America’s urban-focused, urban-based news media ever reports on to its mostly-urban audiences.

So it’s no surprise to me at all that this election was, again, a giant surprise to all the, yep, you guessed it, the big-money, big-city “experts.”