Just a few hours into Fox Information’ protection of the midterm elections on Tuesday evening, commentators started to acknowledge the anticipated Republican rout wasn’t occurring, with host Martha MacCallum noting that the so-called “purple wave” appeared “to be a bit tempered, at the very least at this second.” That was simply earlier than 11 PM; by 1:30 a.m. Wednesday—at which level Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, had flipped the seat in his state by defeating TV celeb physician Mehmet Oz—these on Fox’s panel have been extra blunt of their assessments. “That is an absolute catastrophe for the Republican Occasion,” mentioned former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen. Pointing to Joe Biden’s low approval rankings, together with inflation and crime, Thiessen known as the outcomes a “searing indictment of the Republican Occasion…of the message that we now have been sending to the voters.”
Republicans weren’t the one ones caught off guard by the dearth of a “purple wave” or “purple tsunami”—the dominant media narrative this cycle. On MSNBC Wednesday morning, veteran Democrat strategist James Carville was “puzzled,” HuffPost’s Igor Bobic famous. “The consequence we acquired final evening was beautiful. It appeared like a tie race. That is some incomprehensible upset—it is laborious to think about,” mentioned Carville.
These “purple wave” headlines appeared to overshadow the precise numbers (which, as Cook dinner Political Report Dave Wasserman famous Monday, remained pretty constant). “There is a tendency for forecasters to get caught up within the doom/momentum narrative that takes maintain late in a cycle when one occasion is forward, and switch predicting positive factors into an arms race,” he warned.
That storyline blew up Tuesday evening. Outcomes are nonetheless coming in—each chambers of Congress stay in play—however the anticipated Republican surge didn’t come to cross; Democrats flipped aggressive Home seats and held onto others, received a number of key gubernatorial races, and flipped a Senate seat in Pennsylvania. “Nationwide polling confirmed abortion and democracy turned out to be large points with voters. Protection within the run-up to midterms had centered closely on pocketbook points,” Axios reported.
Some journalists highlighted this discrepancy. “Placing how disconnected the dominant political media narrative of this election cycle—a purple wave pushed by inflation, “defend democracy” not being a mobilizing message, and voter worry of rising crime and defund the police demagoguing—appears to have been from actuality,” Wesley Lowery tweeted simply earlier than midnight on Tuesday. “One take that appeared like Twitter craziness however now feels proper—Rs flooded the zone with narrative-friendly polls within the final week, outcomes not matching up,” wrote Semafor’s Dave Weigel. Amid wins for reform prosecutors across the nation, The Nation’s Jeet Heer mentioned, “This completely goes in opposition to the narrative pushed by not simply the GOP however a lot of the mainstream media that the general public has purchased into the robust on crime backlash.” And as Elizabeth Spiers famous:
Maybe essentially the most stark instance of the political media’s herd mentality within the lead-up to Election Day was in a Politico article printed Monday, as coverage researcher Will Stancil identified. The article centered on the findings of the ultimate Politico-Morning Seek the advice of ballot earlier than Tuesday’s election. “Voters usually deal with midterm elections as a referendum on the president and his occasion, which means that assist for Democrats is on the wane, and many polling averages point out that voters are extra inclined to vote for Republicans because of this,” the outlet reported, earlier than noting that its personal ballot consequence “is an outlier on this query, exhibiting assist for Democratic congressional candidates at 48 %, 5 factors above assist for Republican candidates.” Put one other method by Stancil: “The article fairly actually says ‘Please ignore our personal ballot consequence, take note of the media narrative as a substitute.’”