The Democrats did better in the US mid-terms than was widely reported at the time

It is almost two weeks since the mid-term elections were held in the United States and we still do not have the full results. The day after the elections, it was widely reported that the Democrats had underperformed compared to expectations but, over the following days, the true picture emerged of more victories for the Dems than was apparent at first.

Americans who follow the news might appreciate this, but people outside the US could well have missed the evolving picture.

As the “Guardian” newspaper put it in this piece:

“As the returns poured in on the night of last week’s midterm elections, a narrative swiftly began to take shape: although Democrats succeeded in retaking the House of Representatives from Republican control, the vaunted “blue wave” had failed to materialize.

But just over a week later, the assessment has evolved just as rapidly amid a series of gains by Democrats in contests that on election night were too close to call. Democrats have now picked up 34 seats in the House – a tally that may inch closer to 40 with a number of results still outstanding.

On Tuesday, the party was given another reason to rejoice when Kyrsten Sinema became the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate seat in 30 years. Sinema’s hard-fought victory over her Republican opponent, Martha McSally, not only flipped a reliably red seat blue, but also countered the notion that Democrats had taken a beating in the Senate.”

So why did the media at first fail to appreciate the strength of the Democrat performance?

As this posting on the Make Me Aware blog explains:

“Part of the reason was that the first results happened to come from areas where the Republicans had done better than average – Florida, Indiana and Kentucky. The areas where Democrats had done best reported their votes later, either because their voting hours were longer or because like Arizona and California they were in western time zones. This distorted the way the results were reported overnight.

Another reason for bad reporting is lack of understanding of the complexity of American electoral law and vote-counting. In some states many Democratic-voting groups (particularly young people) prefer to vote by mail quite late in the election, while Republicans turn out more in early voting and on the day (these patterns also vary between states).”


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