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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

OPINION:

While Democrats held the Senate (barely) in the midterm elections, they lost the House, where all spending legislation originates. For the next two years, Republicans will control the agenda and Senate Democrats will either have to compromise or settle for gridlock.

President Biden took a victory lap Monday while on a trip to Asia. “There was a strong rejection of election deniers at every level, from those seeking to lead our states and those seeking to serve in Congress and also those seeking to oversee the elections,” the president said in Bali.


Sure, that was part of it — a very small part.

But that’s not at all the whole story. Mr. Biden lost the House — and make no mistake, it was Mr. Biden who lost the House. Why? Because Americans are fed up with soaring inflation, skyrocketing food and gas prices, out-of-control crime, and the ongoing crisis at the southern border.

Now, Republicans didn’t pull off the massive margin predicted by pollsters (how do these guys get it so wrong every time?!). But they will take over the House and slam the brakes on the president’s runaway spending train.

The day after the election, clueless Joe revealed that he had gotten exactly the wrong message from the midterm elections.

“You mentioned that Americans are frustrated,” a reporter said at a White House presser. “And, in fact, 75% of voters say the country is heading in the wrong direction, despite the results of last night. What in the next two years do you intend to do differently to change people’s opinion of the direction of the country, particularly as you contemplate a run for president in 2024?”

“Nothing, because they’re just finding out what we’re doing,” Mr. Biden said. “The more they know about what we’re doing, the more support there is.”

“So, I’m not going to change the direction,” Mr. Biden said. “I’m not going to change anything in any fundamental way. … We’re just getting started. While the press and the pundits were predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen.”

But Joe, you lost. Your party lost the House. Sure, the red wave turned into a pink trickle, but you still lost.

Clearly, he hasn’t looked at the exit polls, which show that Americans are furious about inflation, but Democrats were able to stem losses because voters opposed the candidates handpicked by former President Donald Trump, many of whom claim the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Here’s how The Associated Press put it: “About half of voters say inflation factored significantly in their vote, as groceries, gasoline, housing, food and other costs have shot up in the past year and raised the specter of inflation. The economy was an overarching concern for voters, about 8 in 10 of whom say it was in bad shape. A slim majority of voters say Biden’s policies caused inflation to be near 40-year highs.”

Mr. Biden‘s approval ratings have been in the dumper for months, and a pre-election poll by the A{ found that 85% of Americans felt the country is “headed in the wrong direction.”

“A majority of Republicans have been unhappy with the direction of the country since Mr. Biden’s election. Democrats had been positive about how things were going, but now 78% say the country is headed in the wrong direction,” the poll said.

Mr. Biden got extremely lucky that his party didn’t lose 40 seats in the House and five to seven seats in the Senate.

Despite his crushing loss in 2020, former President Donald Trump remained the titular head of the party. But except for the deepest red states, nearly every candidate Mr. Trump backed lost. And Trump picked big-time losers in winnable races, most of whom were election deniers, claiming that Mr. Trump actually won in 2020. Voters simply said nuh-uh.

Mr. Biden spent the waning days running against Mr. Trump, claiming democracy will die if the Trump-backed candidates win. But that’s not the reason Democrats stemmed the losses — terrible candidates like Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania were.

Mr. Trump was also the big loser on Tuesday, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the big winner. But Mr. Biden needs to understand he‘ll likely be facing Mr. DeSantis — not Mr. Trump — in 2024, and if he doesn’t change something, he’ll get squashed like a bug.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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