Our guide to totally not freaking out about the mid term election

A lot of people are freaking out about the mid term election today. At 198 methods, we do digital support for non violent, climate revolutionaries. Which causes some people to ask us why we talk about elections and voting at all, or why we don’t talk about them more. So here’s a quick video and a long thread on why voting matters, some context about this election as well as a timeline of when to expect results and how to interpret them.

TL;DR on the long post below: We vote because we’re non-violent revolutionaries, and democracy is the most effective, resilient, non-violent tool for overthrowing the government in human history. We don’t just vote, or only vote because the causes of climate change — fossil fuels, racism, capitalism, and extraction — are bigger than what’s on your ballot. We stand on the shoulders of giants like Gene Sharp, the American Civil Rights movement, and others who have shown that non violent, civil disobedience, combined with voting in free and fair elections can change the world.

Hope is an axe we use to break down doors, and voting is the fire extinguisher we use to rescue children from a burning, albeit haunted, house.

Context

Just like in 2020, there’s a real risk that Trump & Co will try and make a mess of this election, and that our rights, liberties, and our physical & mental security will suffer as a result. You may remember that before the 2020 election this blog and many friends correctly predicted or previewed a lot of Trump’s moves, including the Jan 6 insurrection. This is, in fact, a very important election and there’s a lot on the line. But no matter who wins or loses which races, our movement will need to get up, put on our clothes, and fight the fossil fueled fascists again right after. 

So, with that in mind, I thought it might help to remind folks of a few basic rules, norms and things to expect, including a short timeline up top and a little more “what to expect when you’re expecting an election that decides the fate of democracy in your country.”

Timeline

  • Nov 8. Election day! Go vote and bring 3 friends/family to the polls with you!
    • If you see chicanery, or have questions about anything, call 866-OUR-VOTE to report voter suppression, long lines, or anything like that.
    • Visit www.vote.gov (official government website),  www.voteamerica.com (nonpartisan),  www.nativesvote.com/  (indigenous led) or www.iwillvote.com (Dem partisan) to find your polling place, check your registration, and other process questions.
  • 12am ET Nov 9 – It takes time to count all the votes, and we already know that early voting is setting records in many states — so we shouldn’t expect to know the final results of most elections on election night. Stay up late if you want to see the polls close in Alaska (about 1am Eastern) and chat with all your politics nerd friends. But don’t expect most races to be called on election day. 
  • Remember the Red mirage from 2020? It’s back. Remember in 2020, when we warned that there would be a “red mirage” Where Trump and Republicans appeared to be ahead in some early counting, and then Dems would catch up and surpass them as every legal ballot was counted?
  • By ~5pm ET Nov 9 Polls will have been closed for more than 14 hours in western states (like CA, WA, & OR) and more than 20 hours in the eastern states. We will have enough ballots counted that even in tight races (PA, GA) we’ll have a lot of associated press calls and “official” results in individual Congressional and down-ballot races
    • It’s worth noting that while PA expanded access to mail-in voting this year, they still don’t even start counting absentee ballots until election day. It shouldn’t take as long as it did in 2020 (about 5 days) but be prepared to wait at least 36-72 hours to get a clear picture of who won the PA Senate and governor’s races. Likewise, WA, OR, and CA are all mail voting states now, and will not start to count a lot of their ballots until Nov 9 (pacific time). 
  • The zone of confusion This year will be shorter than 2020, but you should still expect to hear a lot about lawsuits and recounts Nov 9-Nov 11 Here are a few places where we can predict the unpredictable, with the caveat that margins will matter a lot here. Remember the County Clerk’s prayer: “Lord, may the best candidate win, by a lot”
    • GA, is expected to go to a runoff for the Senate race. It may take us 36-72 hour to confirm that outcome, during which we expect to hear a lot of tape replayed about “finding votes”
    • PA, as mentioned above, if it’s anything less than a blowout we expect to be counting, curing, and re-counting ballots in PA for a few days.
    • FL (as usual), is not expected to be especially close in the statewide races, but every hour after the poles close that things are too close to call is likely to be reported as a disaster of some kind. This is especially true since Trump (who lives and votes in Florida now) and FL Governor DeSantis are both election deniers, and because FL passed new voting restrictions this year – sow chaos, reap confusion is the usual model of fossil fueled fascists.
    • NYa billionaire (who else) Republican fucked up redistricting, and now is fucking up the general election. No, New York is not a fossil fuel hellscape. And no, voters are not rebelling because New York passed some good climate legislation in the last few years. Yes, damage, some of it self inflicted, has been done to the Democratic Party Machine – all of which is going to slow things down and muddle results for a bit.

A deep dive on what to expect and when to expect it:

This isn’t 2020, there isn’t a Presidential election, and the electoral count act does not apply. There won’t be another insurrection at the capitol in Jan 2023, because Congress does not certify its own election results. There may be lawsuits, recounts, and runoffs. Bad, election-denying, fossil fueled fascists may win some seats. You should not panic over any individual instance. But it is rasonable to wor worry about the total effect of several of these things happening at once, and the margins

A lot is at stake, but our whole entire democracy is hard to break (of fix) in one election cycle. A lot of people and organizations who spent a ton of time and money on the 2020 election have ignored the 2022 midterms. A lot of billionaires who were neutral in 2020 (Musk) have declared for fascism and Autocracy this year. We’re going to be in this fight for a long time, and if you’re packing your go-bag and planning to apply for Canadian citizenship you’re not helping.

Ranges of possibility and when to expect results. Hit me on twitter @wealsoherdcats if you want to place bets, make predictions, or generally obsess together. But a few important things to remember:

  • Dems currently have slim majorities in the US House and SenateRepublicans control the majority of Governorships, Statewide offices, and state legislatures. I mention this because, from a partisan standpoint, the federal election is mostly about defense (holding seats already held by Dems), and State elections are mostly about offense (winning back Governors’ races and trying to elect Dems to state legislatures). We’re not a partisan or electioneering group, but understanding the consequences of partisan control requires and understanding of how these things work.
    • If Republicans win the governor’s race in FL (as expected) that’s not a sign of Dems “losing” overall – it’s a failure by the Democrats to score a goal, not a goal scored by the Republicans, see?  
    • If Dems win the Senate seat and US Congressional seat in Vermont (as expected) that is a sign of Dems “winning” at their strategy of holding the House and Senate.
    • The media will almost certainly not report these things in this way, so keep calm and focus on majorities and margins.
  • If Dems hold ~the same number of seats in the House, pick up 1-2 governors, and win 1-2 more Senate senate, that is a blowout victory for Democrats. 
  • If Dems lose 5-15 seats in the House, win net 0-1 Senate seat, and pick up 1-2 governor’s races, that’s still a huge win for Democrats.
    • Margins matter here – if we hold the house majority by even 1 vote (net loss of 4 seats) it’s about the same as the blowout, but trickier.
    • If Republicans win more than net 5 seats in the House and have a majority in that chamber, it will be a huge pain in the ass for the next 2 years. But it won’t represent anything like a wave election or a change in the soul of America. 
    • Executive action (Biden declaring a climate emergency or canceling student debt) will be important in this outcome.
  • If Dems lose more than 15 seats in the house, hold the 50 seat Senate Majority, and lose a governor or two (net), that’s more like a stalemate.
    • Margins matter again, though even more-so down ballot. In this scenario fossil fueled fascists are probably gaining power, compared to 2020, so the question is where and how much? Did election deniers win 1, 2, or more Secretary of state races? Where did MAGA win Governors’ races?
    • Executive Action will still be important here, but depending on the margins a lot more attention might shift to the courts (who can, in theory, rein in the excesses of fossil fueled fascist local elected officials). But the courts have not been safe or neutral ground for us in the last few years.
  • The actual “red wave” involves Republicans picking up 20+ seats in the house, 2+ seats in the Senate, and 3+ Governor’s races.
    • First understand that this option is not the most likely. We’re not doomed to this outcome no matter how many pearl-clutching stories the New York Times writes.
    • Second, if this happens, it will be incredibly bad, but not necessarily worse than things were in 2017-2020. Hang on to your community. Buckle down for another round of resistance. But we know we can get through this, because we literally did it in 2020-2021.
    • If this is the outcome a few days after the election, it won’t be about executive action, legislative action, or the courts. This will be a moment (again) to get into the streets and get into civil resistance, non violent civil disobedience, and other forms of good trouble.

Regarding the red mirage

The Red mirage was originally created in 2020 because Democrats were more cautious about the pandemic, and more likely to vote by mail or vote early when things were less crowded. Republicans were more likely to vote in person, on election day. And since many states count or report their votes in reverse order (starting with election day voters, then working back through mail ballots) that might make it seem like Republicans are ahead on election night (the red mirage) and then Dems would catch up and surpass them as every legal ballot cast was counted. 

Since 2020, a lot of people are a lot less cautious about COVID, so there’s a chance it won’t be as big a deal – some of us are hoping (and working for) for a big surge of young voters, in particular, at the polls, on election day. If that works out, the surge of GOP votes at the end may be more of a “Purple Mirage.” In addition, some states, like WI and TX, have limited early voting options, which will limit the effect of a red mirage. Other states, like PA, VT, WA, and CA, have adopted very easy and universal mail-voting systems since 2020, which also reduces the “spike” in Republicans voting late or on election day.

One Comment

  1. Carole Cooper

    Thanks a big bunch for this summary. It does help me take more deep breaths!!

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