by Marshall Auerback
Wednesday, 9
November 2022
Debate
07:00

Florida was a Covid referendum

All the major issues were downstream effects of the pandemic response
by Marshall Auerback
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis won his re-election campaign comfortably. Credit: Getty

To paraphrase a famous Sun headline, it was Covid Wot Won It for the Republicans in at least one of last night’s midterm races, even if the widely predicted “red wave” turned out to be more of a dribble. It’s true, in the strict sense, that the immediate focus of voters featured concerns about the rising cost of living, spiralling crime (especially in many blue cities), immigration, and abortion. But all of this must be seen in the context of a pandemic response that ultimately created the conditions for these issues to take root and spread. 

The lockdowns precipitated huge economic dislocations, notably supply-chain gaps that in turn created significant inflationary pressures. The stimulus package succeeded beyond policymakers’ wildest dreams, but those same policymakers, from Biden to the Democratic-controlled Congress downward, ignored the changing economic context as the country came out of the pandemic. Instead, the White House and Fed fuelled inflation further by spending nearly $5 trillion in Covid relief.

It’s therefore easy to see why Joe Biden focused on the supposed threat to democracy posed by ‘MAGA’ Republicans rather than inflation during campaigning. That charge might have had more force had Democrats not engaged in a cynical game of intervening in Republican primaries, using party funds to promote some of those same far-Right candidates in GOP primaries. 

The strategy has worked better than expected, but the economy has not improved. In fact, it has steadily deteriorated, particularly after the Federal Reserve (which had long dismissed price pressures as “transitory”) belatedly responded by aggressively raising rates. This move created havoc in the housing market and added additional stress to American consumers, who in 2021 increased their personal debt by $1 trillion, the biggest annual increase since 2007.

No wonder, then, that the economy was a top concern for a majority of US voters. But Covid also exposed something else to Americans: the policies pushed by social justice advocates during the pandemic. Being at home with their children, parents were able to see in a way they never had before the hyper-liberal curriculum being foisted on their children: Seattle public schools using K-5 gender lessons to teach kindergarten-age children about transitioning and pronouns being one prominent example. As difficult a time as it was for adults, a plethora of studies showed that young children and adolescents were clearly among the people most negatively impacted, in various ways, by the pandemic lockdowns. These were key factors contributing to Republican Glenn Youngkin’s surprise defeat of the heavy favourite Terry McAuliffe in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial race. It was an early warning ignored by the Democrats.

That is why Republicans were so keen to beat the Covid drum on the eve of the election. Conservative columnist Ann Coulter sent her readers a succinct reminder by linking to a host of lockdown measures that created unprecedented disruptions to American lives for almost three years; likewise, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem a possible Vice Presidential candidate for Donald Trump, made hay of this issue. Noted lockdown sceptic Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, long treated as a punching bag by the media for eschewing “expert” advice, is likely to use Florida’s recovery as a signature policy to promote his own presidential run, especially after romping home in his gubernatorial re-election race.

If this wasn’t enough to remind Democrats that voters are sick and tired of being scolded about mask-wearing and incessant reminders that Covid is still very much with us, then consider that we are now a few months into the bivalent booster vaccination campaign, and uptake remains less enthusiastic than ever.

It may not be called a Covid election, but these midterms are a clear snapshot of how the pandemic has reoriented American politics. The Democrats may get away with it this time. They will not be so lucky in 2024.

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Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
22 days ago

The “Covid & vaccine paranoia” consequence is being felt economically & politically worldwide. You can pull wool over the public’s eyes only for so long. It’s comical that the democrats thought they could get away with their Covid propaganda & subsequently enforcing a torturous vaccine tyranny .

The reality is that corruption of politicians happens all the time of both sides . At least you can see the obviously loud and flawed ones for what they are and take your chances with them & discount some of their outspoken rubbish. It’s the quiet and sinister ones I am more vary of, you never know why their nice words don’t match their actions. It’s all that polite cow-towing to the press and it’s biased reporting and institutionalised thinking. Totally without originality and lucid thinking. Instead of empowering the public with positivity and energy, they seem to want to keep them in serfdom and lethargy. Hence the lockdowns, the distancing, the vaccines etc.

Our young ( actually we all have) have suffered this Covid tyranny for too long and now the consequences will have to be faced.

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
21 days ago

I suspect that the Covid affect hasn’t been as great as I would have hoped. Many Americans still believe the official narrative. However it’s reassuring that Ron Johnson rwon in Wisconsin. Hi was/is one of the few Senators holding the Federal government to account and defending those harmed by the ‘vaccine’.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
22 days ago

Why are you linking to Germans news with you very last two links?

Marshall Auerback
Marshall Auerback
22 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Mistaken link.

Thanks for pointing out. It has been amended

Michael Sinclair
Michael Sinclair
20 days ago

We know that it was government policy in treating covid, mirrored world wide, and not covid in essence that has brought inflation. This cannot be afforded admission, and how would that materially help now?
There was never a consensus amongst scientists as to how best manage – each country beholdent to their ‘specialists’. However, for those that did the research we did have ‘The Great Barrington Declaration’ (Profs. Gupta, Kulldorff and Bhattacharya – Oxford,Harvard and Stamford) – focus protection and avoid lockdowns at all cost.

Bernardo 0
Bernardo 0
21 days ago

If this was a COVID election, why did lockdown lovers like Gretchen Witmer of Michigan perform so well?
While there was no red wave or red tsunami, as predicted by many, Tropical Strom Ron performed far better than expected

Jim Stanton
Jim Stanton
17 days ago

The Covid issue is not over. As more and more people die from the shots, many of them children, than actually died from Covid we will see a wave of angry parents, moms in particular, who normally vote Democrat. These women are moms first and Democrats second. Once they realize the powers that be that forced or coerced them into injecting their children have caused some of them to loose their children look out!
Don’t mess with the Mamma Bears!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
18 days ago

An open goal, and the Republicans ballooned the ball over the bar. Hopeless.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
22 days ago

As soon as I read the words “hyper-liberal” I couldn’t be bothered. What a joke and this is supposed to be some considered opinion piece. You wouldn’t have a clue.

Zirrus VanDevere
Zirrus VanDevere
21 days ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Touched a nerve, did it? “Hyper-liberal curriculum” makes perfect sense to me, and I’m not a partisan. You sound awfully triggered…