Jerry Kremer

Time to throw out the political trash


Happily, the midterm elections are behind us. They were, at best, stressful, and overall they were ugly. Once again, the pollsters were more wrong than they were right, predicting all kinds of results that never happened. There were many lessons to be learned from the results, and any politician who ignores them does so at his or her peril.
Any candidate who calls for a ban on abortions in a red, blue or purple state is asking for trouble. There were five states in which abortion was on the ballot, and those that proposed a ban in one form or another were shot down. Women want to make their own choices, in consultation with their physicians, and attempts to take away that right will meet stiff resistance. Defeated Pennsylvania senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz suggested that elected officials should have a voice on abortion, and that didn’t help his campaign.
Most political observers thought the issue of gun control wouldn’t have an impact on people’s thinking, but many voters who were questioned stated that their decisions factored in their concerns about the need for much stronger gun laws. There is a constant fear that there will be more school shootings, and pro-gun legislators who are supported by the NRA may have to rethink their position, even if that costs them a few gun-rights supporters. Guns are an issue that won’t go away, and will re-resurface in the 2024 elections.
Any pollster who tells you that young people are uninterested in elections should be banned from poll-taking. This election brought out a record number of so-called Gen-Z voters, millions of them college students. On Election Day there were reports all over the country of enormous lines of students waiting to vote, well after the polls were scheduled to close. The youth vote is now alive and well.
Crime was an issue that helped a number of candidates get elected, but the vast majority of voters had other concerns on their mind, including voting rights, preserving the Constitution, saving Social Security and Medicare and stopping candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump from winning key elections. Plenty of MAGA candidates won their races, but their tenures may be very short when their new constituents catch on to their lack of substance.

We learned in the midterms that election denialism is not a winning strategy. The Republican candidate for New York governor, Lee Zeldin, ran a spirited race, but his resistance to acknowledging that President Biden was fairly elected hurt him with swing voters. New Yorkers are pretty sophisticated people, and the majority of them weren’t ready to buy into a candidate who opposed the certification of election results in Pennsylvania and Arizona. There are still plenty of election deniers who won their contests, but once they’re in office, their positions won’t help them do the required work.
From the ads that flooded the airwaves, we could all agree that the tone of this year’s races was more dishonest and mean-spirited than ever before. In a lust for power, many candidates — incumbents and challengers alike — made false claims about their opponents, accusing them of criminal conduct and making other outrageous allegations. But the slanderers didn’t fool most of the voters, who rejected the partisan poison.
Year after year, we have been subjected to stories about suspect polling results, in contests ranging from dogcatcher to president. Political columnists and reporters, in print and on the air, have spend countless hours delving into the polling results, dissecting the numbers and often trying to divine trends that don’t exist. Over the past 10 years, I have challenged numerous pollsters who have wrongly claimed that they have reached people whose only phones are cellphones (which pollsters must dial manually). It’s time to ignore them and the commentators.
Now that the big red wave never happened and the experts will be scratching their heads for months trying to figure out why, it’s time to do a reset and focus on 2024. Future candidates will have to prepare for major changes in the electoral terrain, and be aware that they will suffer if they ignore the 2022 warning signs.

Jerry Kremer was an Assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column?