Like any self-respecting politics nerd, I spent the night of the midterm elections glued to the Steve Kornacki cam on MSNBC, watching my favorite khakis-wearing gay break down election results as they came in.
Kornacki nabbed a new level of national attention (or maybe obsession) in the hours and days following the 2020 presidential election, when he was on TV nonstop for days as election officials slowly counted mail-in ballots.
There’s something about the vaguely frantic manner Kornacki has when he shuffles through his papers that speaks to those of us who follow politics closely.
Kornacki has a knack for numbers, and not just the numbers from this election: I’m talking decades of election data. On the days following elections and select events throughout the year, Kornacki gets to grace our television screens to share his impressive statistical knowledge. Kornacki uses his know-how of recent elections to help watchers understand what the numbers coming out of individual counties mean for the election as a whole.
One race that garnered national attention thanks to Kornacki’s coverage was between Democrat Adam Frisch and Republican Lauren Boebert for Colorado’s third congressional district. On Friday, Nov. 18, Frisch announced that he conceded the race to Boebert. This close race remained too close to call as votes were tallied and came as a surprise on Friday, as expressed by Kornacki after it looked like Frisch could have had the numbers to beat Boebert a week prior.
While Frisch conceded the race, the election is close enough that there will still be an automatic recount of the ballots as required by CO law.
So far, the only Senate seat flipped by Democrats is in Pennsylvania, won by John Fetterman. I cannot quite explain the thrill I experienced when I watched Kornacki explain the differences between Trump’s 2020 performance and Fetterman’s opponent Mehmet Oz’s performance this year. Kornacki’s ability to break down different electoral scenarios provided comfort to many people (myself included) who were anxiously awaiting election results.
Speaking of anxiety watching election results, Kornacki saw signs of Florida going for the GOP early in the night on Nov. 8, with mail-in and early ballots favoring incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in the historically democratic Miami-Dade County. These ballots served as an early indication of the statewide swing for the Republican Party. Florida was not all bad for Democrats, though. West of Orlando, Democrat Maxwell Frost won his bid for the U.S. Congress. Frost will be the youngest (and first Gen Z) member of Congress at 25 years old.
Before officials called the Arizona governor’s race for Democrat Katie Hobbs, Kornacki discussed her opponent's, Kari Lake, potential paths to victory. Kornacki’s understanding of electoral data shines through in these moments as he discusses how potential paths to victory for each candidate fit into historic electoral data as well as the trends of the night.
Despite the race being called for Hobbs on Nov. 14, Lake is refusing to concede. Lake claims that her voters were disenfranchised, but there is no evidence that her voters were more disenfranchised than any other voter.
Another close race was Georgia’s Senate election, which will go into a runoff set for Dec. 6 between Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R). When we compare the performance of Brian Kemp, the Republican governor of Georgia, to that of Walker, we can see Kemp consistently outperforming Walker, even in counties they both won. What's more is that the libertarian candidate did significantly better in the Senate race than in the Governor race, so that while libertarian voters tend to lean conservative, their votes likely will not go to Walker in the runoff.
This election was a mixed bag for Democrats as they maintained their majority in the Senate but lost in the House of Representatives. With the upcoming runoff election in Georgia on Dec. 6, it's not quite time to pack Kornacki back up into the attic. I, for one, know that I will be sitting on my common room couch, eyes glued to the Kornacki cam, waiting for his analysis of the first round of ballots out of Georgia. He provides comfort through an excessive amount of information and the internet’s commentary on him gives me just the right amount of entertainment as I anxiously await election results.