Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
My Interview with George Takei on the 2022 and 2024 Elections
Actor, activist, humanitarian and fellow Substacker George Takei reached out last week and asked me some questions about the 2022 elections and what I am seeing so far this year. Today he published our discussion, and I share an excerpt below. To read the whole conversation visit George’s Substack, The Pig Picture, and perhaps give him a subscribe while there.
In the weeks and months leading up to the midterms of 2022, there was much talk of a massive “Red Wave”—one that would sweep the Democrats from power in Congress and put Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in charge with sizable majorities in each chamber.
But a few lonely voices, including today’s guest Simon Rosenberg, were saying, “Hold on, that’s not what the data is telling us.”
We all should have played “Simon Says” a bit better.
He was absolutely on the money with his predictions, and now the Senate remains in the hands of the Democrats, and Kevin McCarthy’s House majority is paper thin.
Considering his success at prognostication, we wanted to ask Simon Rosenberg what he thought about the past few special elections as well as the big 2024 election ahead. It’s an honor and privilege to have him share his thoughts with us today.
— George Takei and Team
1) In 2022, you were one of the only experts out there saying the Red Wave was really going to be a Red Meh.
What gave you the confidence to make that prediction, in the face of all the warnings coming from nearly everyone else?
My colleague Tom Bonier and I looked beyond polling to other data—our strong performance in the 5 House specials and the Kansas ballot initiative, improving voter registration figures, historically strong fundraising, and an early vote which outperformed both 2018 and 2020.
All that data suggested Dem overperformance and a close competitive election, not a red wave. We also only looked at high-quality independent polls and did not allow a flood of bad, GOP-heavy polls at the end to move us from our close, competitive election take.
Those floods of bad GOP polls in the final few weeks caused many analysts to buy into the false red wave narrative which ended up driving the coverage in the final days. If you bought into those bad GOP polls you were seeing a different election than the one we were seeing, and that election is not the election that happened.
So the most important thing we did was to expand the data we were looking at beyond polls, and that data all pointed to the same thing—Dem overperformance.
Which is the election that happened.
2) Where did Democrats perform better than everyone expected, and where were there trouble spots?
Is there a connection to larger issues in our country?
There were two elections in 2022. A bluer one inside the battlegrounds, a redder one outside.
We ended up performing at the upper end of what was possible in 2022, picking up a Senate seat, governorships, and state legislative chambers. It was one of the best midterm performances by a party in power in American history.
We outperformed 2020 in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. We got to 59% of the vote in Colorado, 57% in Pennsylvania, 55% in Michigan, 54% in New Hampshire.
It was an amazing performance and everyone who worked to bring it about should be very proud. It also means that the battleground, which has gone our way in 3 consecutive elections slipped a bit further away from the GOP in 2022.
Their 2024 hill is a bit higher to climb.
But where we didn’t run these big grassroots-fueled, muscular campaigns we fell back a bit, and we lost ground in the four biggest states—California, Florida, New York, Texas. Our stumbles in California and New York were particularly worrisome and may have cost us the House.
The key to our gains is that Joe Biden has been a good President and we had a lot to run on; they remain extreme and dangerous, way too much MAGA; and the millions of people who donate, text, call, canvas and write postcards have given us the best-funded campaigns and most robust field operations we’ve ever had, and that is helping push our performance to the upper end of what is possible in state after state, election after election.
3) Many outlets reported, anecdotally, that enthusiasm among young voters and women seemed up, in part because of the Dobbs decision on abortion.
Did you see this in your data, and what is it telling you now?
Yes, we saw a huge spike in women registering to vote after Dobbs, and we saw Democrats outperform our 2020 numbers by 7 points in 5 House special elections and even more in Kansas. There was an immediate, positive spike in Dem performance for us after Dobbs. We also know from a new Catalist report and others that youth performance in the battlegrounds was very strong for us.
To me young people are the big opportunity for Democrats this cycle. We keep winning under 45-year-old voters by 13-15-20 points.
But we can no longer accept that the part of our coalition that is most Democratic votes the least. We need to make growing the youth vote a very high priority this cycle which is why I’ve called on the Biden campaign to launch a national youth voter registration drive as soon as possible.
We need to drive youth turnout through the roof this cycle.
Visit here to catch the rest of the interview.
Keep working hard all - Simon