The Most Important Race That Will Absolutely Change the Course of American Politics

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Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 29 2014 2:57 PM

The Most Important Race That Will Absolutely Change the Course of American Politics

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Governor Scott Walker, dreaming big

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Wonks! Politicos! Pollsters! Come, gather ‘round, and let us find the most important race of the midterm elections, the race that will prove that midterm elections are not to be ignored, but rather closely examined, read like tea leaves in the cup that is the future of U.S. politics.

The gubernatorial race between Scott Walker and Mary Burke is hugely important. It is so important that it could shape the future of U.S. politics for years to come. So writes Noam Scheiber in his analysis of the race for the New Republic. If Republicans lose the Senate and Walker wins, he writes, then “Walker, the governor who managed to destroy the left and live to tell about it in a swing state, will loom as an incredibly appealing model.”

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All right! To Wisconsin!

But wait! Scheiber himself admits that the only race that truly matters is the race for who will control the Senate. Indeed, and in the Senate race in Georgia, Democratic senate candidate Michelle Nunn has, in an effort to distance herself from the least popular elements of her party, hinted that, if elected, “she wouldn’t necessarily vote for keeping Reid as leader.” There could be ramifications for Democratic Senate leadership if the Democrat from Georgia wins office! (But there probably won’t be.)

Friends! To Georgia!

Georgia? Is Georgia the state in which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate is “bringing along enough of the center-left working class white male vote while maintaining strong support among women and young people and the future of Texas politics?” No, because that state is obviously Texas. Wendy Davis could be turning Texas blue, or at least purple. That could shape the future of Texas politics—and Texas politics shape American politics, and so, by the transitive property, your eyes should be trained on Texas.

Don’t mess with careful observation of the race in Texas!

Actually, if you’d really been paying attention, you’d have seen that the Washington state primary foretold the midterm elections, and thus the future of U.S. politics, already, according to Real Clear Politics. And what does that future look like? “Right now, it doesn’t look like a full-on GOP wave…But it isn’t a very good environment for Democrats, either.” (The future, it turns out, looks a lot like the present.)

Give it up. The Washington state Primary may have told us all we need to know.

Wait, no! Actually, Rev. Al Sharpton says that the 2014 midterm elections might be more important than the 2016 elections, writing, “A few months away from the midterm elections, and at a time when so much of our progress is under threat, this just might be one of the most pivotal moments before us.”

Whatever you do, do not stop caring about these elections.

But if you do stop caring, it’s OK. Nate Silver, expert of predictions and well-timed burrito storiessays that the 2014 election is the least important in years.

Stop. Stop with the 2014 elections. Don’t even think about them. (Why are you still reading this?)

Wait, no, sorry. Come back. Jim Geraghty of the National Review says that the elections do matter. (Actually, he says, “Heck Yeah, the 2014 Midterm Elections Matter!”) Geraghty’s point is actually not dissimilar from Silver’s: Silver writes that these elections are mostly important in how they position U.S. politics for 2016, and Geraghty notes that that is indeed important. (Or, rather, that “that sure as heck is important!”)

2016 is important. 2014 is important, too. Wisconsin is important. Georgia is important. Texas is important. The Washington state primaries were important. And, certainly, getting people to care about them through dramatically headlined pieces of journalism is important, too.  

Emily Tamkin is an M.Phil. candidate in Russian and East European studies at Oxford. Follow her on Twitter.  

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