Ordinarily, it’s not possible for a party to win the presidency and have a bad election night, but the Democrats managed it.
Pending the outcome of two Senate runoffs in Georgia, Joe Biden looks set to become a caretaker president who won’t be signing any legislation that doesn’t pass muster in Mitch McConnell’s Senate first.
He isn’t riding into the White House on the strength of a Blue Wave, as was so often predicted, but a Blue Trickle that saw Democrats fail to win control of the Senate (they need to win both Georgia seats in January to get to a 50–50 tie), suffer shocking setbacks in the House, and lose ground in state legislative races after investing heavily in them.
Biden clearly owes his victory (which President Donald Trump, of course, is still contesting) in large part to Trump’s personal unpopularity. In races where the president wasn’t on the ballot, in contrast, the weakness of the Democratic Party stood exposed and it paid the price.
If the former vice president succeeded in making the presidential race a referendum on Trump, Republicans succeeded in making House races, in effect, a referendum on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the woke socialism that animates Democratic activists and draws so much attention. (Nancy Pelosi posed for a cover of Rolling Stone with members of the Squad, and Ocasio-Cortez is on the cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair.)
Bolstered by the media, Democrats were so certain they were riding the tide of history to inevitable pickups in the House that they didn’t pause to take note of the unpopularity of their agenda and the left of their party.
Republicans took the socialist label and hung it around the neck of Democrats.