SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2021
Truly, it doesn't get dumber: Today, let's start with some political facts about the state of West Virginia.
In presidential campaigns, the state was reliably Democratic right through 1996. Dating back through FDR's four elections, West Virginia only went Republican during major national landslides, and sometimes not even then.
West Virginia voted for Humphrey in 1968, rejecting Candidate Nixon. It voted for Jimmy Carter both times, even against Reagan in 1980. It voted for Dukakis in 1988. After that, it voted for Clinton both times.
The state flipped to red in 2000, and it has never looked back. On that first (disastrous) occasion, we understood that the flip was largely connected to NRA ads about guns.
That's what we understood. But George W. Bush's winning margin in West Virginia was a mere six points that year. Four years later, in 2004, the Republican margin in the state grew to 13 points.
That advantage has never diminished. Obama lost the state by 13 points in 2008, by 27 points in 2012. And after that, the deluge! Donald J. Trump won the state each time by an astonishing margin:
Presidential elections, West Virginia
2016: Trump 67.9%; Clinton 26.5%
2020: Trump 68.6%; Biden 29.7%
Trump beat Clinton by 41 points. Four years later, he beat Biden by 39.
We'd love to see a full discussion of this remarkable shift in this state's political alignment. But our point today is somewhat different. Our point today is this:
Senate elections, West Virginia
2012: Joe Manchin (D) 60.6%; John Raese (R) 36.5%
2018: Joe Manchin (D) 49.6%; Patrick Morrissey (R) 46.3%
Joe Manchin didn't win by much in 2018, during his state's remarkable shift to Trump.
No, he didn't win by much, but he did hold on. And if he hadn't managed to do that, Mitch McConnell would still be running a Republican-majority Senate.
At least in theory, liberals, progressives and Democrats wouldn't be happy with that.
Sad but true! Given the current conservative tilt of "Senate math," and given the rise of partisan polarization, it's currently very hard for Democrats to gain control of the Senate. It's hard for Dems to amass a Senate majority—even a "majority" of 50 members out of 100.
How hard is it for Dems to control the Senate? Consider a few basic facts:
Last November, Biden won the nationwide popular vote by a margin our cable stars like to describe as a "landslide." In this way, our cable stars dumb us down, gaining short-term advantage in corporate earnings and personal salary enhancements.
That said, how they do dumb us down! With respect to the current topic, our basic point would be this:
Even in winning the popular vote by 4.4 percentage points, Biden won only 25 states. And it gets even worse than that:
Biden managed to win the four states where the margins were closest (Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania). And the margins were very close in those states. Overall, the winning margin in those four states was well under one percent.
It gets even worse than that. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the nationwide popular vote by 2.1 points. But good God! In the course of winning the popular vote, she won only 20 states!
These numbers suggest an obvious point. Even in years when Democrats hold a 2-5 point advantage nationwide, the alignments of the fifty states would tend to place as many as 60 Republicans in the Senate.
With a very slight shift in the political winds, Biden could have won a three-point nationwide victory while winning only 21 states! Even while winning the popular vote, he very easily could have lost 29 states—and each of our fifty states sends two people to the Senate.
Under our current system, it's very hard for Democrats to gain control of the Senate. To do so, they have to have the occasional political miracle worker—the Joe Manchin who can hold on in West Virginia, the Jon Tester in Montana.
(In 2016 and 2020, Donald J. Trump won Montana by 20.4 and 16.4 points. In 2018, Tester held on in the face of a furious onslaught, winning re-election by 3.5 points.)
Do we think it's easy for a Democrat to win a Senate seat in a state like West Virginia—in a state which twice elected Trump by 40-point margins? Even a star like Claire McCaskill couldn't hold on in Missouri last time. They sent us Josh Hawley instead!
Do we think it's easy to win in West Virginia? Plainly, our corporate-selected multimillionaire cable stars do! Or did you fail to watch Rachel Maddow's ridiculous performance this past Wednesday night?
Maddow is highly skilled at "selling the car;" it's her one spectacular attribute. At long last, it ought to be said that she's also dumb as a rock and a true believer—a hopeless self-adoring performer who persistently dumbs us down in the course of helping us learn to adore her more completely and fully.
On Wednesday, Maddow unloosed a cri de coeur concerning Manchin's announcement that he wouldn't vote to confirm Neera Tanden as head of the OMB. Along the way, she played every one of Our Town's sillier race / gender cards.
(By that, we mean that she made insinuations and charges about racism and sexism which she made no attempt to support or sustain. This is one of the major ways we manufacture Trump voters.)
We'll wait until Monday to show you what the multimillionaire corporate cable star said. But will the time ever come when we in Our Town decide to stop buying this car?
Way back when, this silly star played this same game, though less politely in certain ways, with respect to Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).
At that time, New Hampshire was a tougher state for Democrats than it is at present. Maddow showed no sign of understanding the way so basic a facts might affect the way national politics works as she bashed and trashed the vile "conservaDem" solon.
Wednesday night, it was Manchin's turn. Will the time ever come when we decide to stop buying the car this star sells?
Rachel Maddow's list of clown shows is extremely long. That said, Maddow is extremely good at "selling the car"—at her "performance of the Rachel figure," to quote Janet Malcolm in The New Yorker.
Maddow is skilled at selling the car, and the model he sells is The Maddow. Meanwhile, she's too popular to be critiqued by Our Town's career liberal journalists, many of whom know how dumb her performances frequently are.
Maddow's show gets dumber and dumber, and more and more pointless, as the years roll by. Here in Our Town, we're too busy attacking the dumbness of The Others to see the way this utterly stupid corporate game actually works.
Manchin found a way to hang on in 2018. If he hadn't found a way to hang on, Mitch McConnell would still be running the Senate today.
The current tilt in Senate math is very bad for Dems. At this site, we're hoping and praying that Manchin can find a way to hang on at least one more time, when he runs in 2024.
Manchin saved us from Leader McConnell. Does Our Town's self-adoring corporate darling understand this most basic of all basic facts?
Monday: Most pitiful cable speech ever?