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The ‘devil-you-know’ election | CNN Politics



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CNN
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Here’s an amazing stat for you: Just 10 incumbents have so far lost their bids for House, Senate and governor in the 2022 general election.

That number includes nine House members – two of whom lost to fellow incumbents – and one governor, Nevada’s Steve Sisolak. (CNN has yet to project a winner in several House races and the Alaska governor’s race, where GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seeking another term.)

To date, not a single senator has lost reelection – although Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s race has yet to be called and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is in a December 6 runoff in Georgia.

In a slide deck seeking to understand what happened in the 2022 election, Republican lobbyist Bruce Mehlman wrote: “Voters sought stability at a time of heightened anxiety.”

Looking at the lay of the land, it’s hard to argue with that.

In the Senate, just a single seat – Pennsylvania – has switched party control so far. On the House side, Republicans could be on their way to a 222-213 majority – which would be the exact same wafer-thin margin that Democrats had in the 117th Congress.

That makes it difficult to conclude that the midterm was, in any meaningful way, a change election.

Which is, at first blush, shocking. After all, the exit polls are littered with data that would suggest the public was ready for change. Consider:

* Three in four midterm voters nationally (76%) said the state of the economy was poor or not good.

* 79% said inflation had caused them either severe or moderate hardship.

* 73% said they were either angry or dissatisfied about the the way things were going in the US.

That certainly looks like an electorate ready to make a major change. But it didn’t. So, what gives?

I suspect that Mehlman’s got the right of it. Call it the ‘devil-you-know’ election. Voters weren’t thrilled with the way things have been going, but didn’t feel strongly enough to throw the bums out.

I also think there was a strain of concern about democracy mixed in there as well. Voters saw how fragile democracy was on January 6, 2021, and were mindful of voting in inexperienced politicians – or people who flat-out branded themselves as election deniers.

The Point: Voters largely chose the status quo in the midterms – even though they were pretty unhappy about the state of affairs in the country. It’s a good reminder that how people vote is rarely determined by a single factor.

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