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The Best Explanation for Why Democrats Did Better Than Expected in the Midterms Comes From … Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz speaks on stage at a political rally.

Despite persistent predictions that Republicans would sweep the midterms in a “red wave,” or even a “red tsunami,” that outcome didn’t materialized. Democrats didn’t do phenomenally in the midterms—they will likely lose control of the House and the Senate remains extremely close as Georgia’s race heads to a runoff—but every narrative out there said we were doomed to be absolutely crushed.

There are a lot of reasons why those “red wave” predictions might have been so far off. Some are blaming Trump. Some are pointing out the ways the media benefits from perpetuating an anti-progressive narrative. It’s also hard to gauge what young voters are going to do when so much of polling still relies heavily on actual phone calls.

But the best, most comprehensive explanation for why Democrats outperformed expectations in this midterm election comes from—incredibly—Ted Cruz. Speaking on Fox News, the Texas Republican senator explained that Democrats motivated voters by, essentially, doing things voters like.

“Here’s a lesson to take from last night,” Cruz said. “Why did the Democrats do better than expected? Because for two years they have governed as liberals. They’ve governed as whacked-out lefty nut jobs and you know what that did? That excited their base. That excited a bunch of young voters that came out in massive numbers because when you actually stand for something, your base gets excited.” Cruz ended by saying Republicans would do well to remember that if/when they have a majority in Congress.

I hate agreeing with Ted Cruz but … yes! There is so much we wish the Democrats could and would do but between the massive social spending package passed earlier this year and the recent pushes to protect abortion, forgive student loan debt, and legalize marijuana, Democrats have given voters plenty to be excited about. Cruz can call it “whacked-out lefty nut job” stuff, sure. Personally, I think “overwhelmingly popular common-sense policies” is more accurate but to each their own.

On top of that, the war on abortion being waged by Republicans and the Supreme Court has given those voters an enemy to push back against, which is likely as much a motivating factor in getting people to the polls, if not more so. (It’s definitely more so.)

Republicans can take this as a lesson if they want but I just hope Democrats are learning from this themselves: Voters—especially young voters, whom you desperately need—like when you do stuff! So keep doing that!

(image: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.