From Notable and Quotable in WSJ (12/27/20022).

From “The most underdiscussed fact of the 2022 election: how historically close it was” by Harry Enten for, Dec. 26: An examination of the data reveals that 2022 was a historically close election in a historically divided era. . . . Post-election, neither party dominates. Republicans have maintained the thinnest majority of governorships (52%) and House seats (51%). Democrats will control the Senate with a bare majority (51% of the seats).

It’s not unusual for any one of these (governorships, House seats or Senate seats) to be narrowly split. After all, we’ve just had two years in which each party has held 50 Senate seats.

What is unusual is to have all three be so closely divided. By my count, this is apparently the first time since the popular election of senators (1914) when neither party will hold more than 52% of governorships, House seats or Senate seats. . . .

We have not had a presidential election in which the popular vote was decided by double-digits since 1984. This streak of single-digit elections is the longest since most states began popularly electing presidents in the 1820s. The largest margin in the House popular vote since 1984 was the nearly-11-point win Democrats notched in the 2008 election. In fact, the last time the House popular vote margin was 11 points or more was 40 years ago, in 1982. We haven’t seen such a string of close results in the House popular vote in 200 years.


When the parties are this closely divided, small, sometimes extreme elements can exercise far more power than their numbers would justify.  The solution is either to win with larger margins to relegate extreme minorities to the sidelines or to secure strong party leadership that can control errant minorities.  The latter, at the moment, is like putting the toothpaste back in the tube.  We apparently are one of the few countries where the political parties exercise no control over who runs under the party label.

To win with larger margins requires a level of compromise that the GOP is hard pressed to enact. In the last election candidates catering to a cohesive minority could win a primary but could not win a general election.  Party leaders were caught in a catch 22.  If they supported the primary winner, they lost and if they did not they risked losing their support in a tightly divided race.

It is the job of the party leaders to win races, not to secure the most ideologically or tribally pure primary candidate.  In this light Donald Trump is a very poor party leader.

Using radical means to secure conservative (or democratic) ends does not make you a better conservative; it more likely makes you a less effective conservative. (Jonah Goldberg)

“When illiberal means are used to create or impose liberal ends the nature of the means will determine the resulting ends.” -Don Boudreaux

The political reality of this close split is that progress comes in steps.  This does not mean that the objectives of the small minority are wrong; it only means that they must face political reality to be effective.  “Crazy does not beat crazy, sane beats crazy”.  If the base is not a majority, then a focus in turning out the base, while ignoring the independents is a losing strategy.