I was doing the electoral math to figure out the new makeup of the U.S. Senate. The numbers just didn’t add up. According to CNN, the ‘"most trusted name in news," the Democrats won 51 seats in the Senate, giving it a majority. The Associated Press also messed it up. AP Writer Jim Kuhnhenn fed misinformation to hundreds of news sources by reporting that Democrats won their 51st seat in the U.S. Senate. As allegedly objective news sources, millions rely on for accuracy, both CNN and AP need to be taken to task for misreporting.
Last time I checked, Vermont and Connecticut elected senators who ran as independents, Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). While both men caucus with the Democrats, neither is a Democrat. After all, Joe Lieberman, who was ousted by Democratic voters in the Connecticut Democratic Primary, who nominated Ned Lamont (D-CT) to be their candidate. Sanders ran unopposed by a Democratic candidate. While the Democrats will effectively control the Senate for the next two years because the two independents will side with Democrats on a majority of issues, CNN and AP misreported that the Democrats won a majority. They did not. This distinction is important, not just semantically, but politically as well. It means that senators from both parties must work together to avoid gridlock, because neither party has a majority. The true power in the new Senate will lie in the hands of two independents, one who leans far to the left (Sanders), and the other towards the center. Mr. Lieberman should be commended for turning lemon into lemonade by becoming a key independent who can swing votes. His role as an independent will be as critical as Jim Jeffords’ was when Jeffords switched from Republican to independent and upset the balance of power in the Senate. CNN and AP should acknowledge this distinction. Anything less merely makes them look like partisan cheerleaders. ElectionProjection.com got it right, as did most serious elections news sites. It’s a shame the big news sources didn’t.
On a related note…you read it here first. What happened last night is not the true test of the next decade. The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election and presidential coattails are what will count. The next president–and their coattails–will determine whether the Democratic majority is fleeting or will find traction in the next decade. Stay tuned.