The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, November 7, 2022

It’s Monday, November 7, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

With Election Day Looming, What is the Landscape and What Is at Stake?

Well, buckle your seat belts tomorrow is officially election day in the United States, midterm elections 2022, and I think most Americans are probably going to be glad that election day will eventually be over and eventually, the results will be in. And if nothing else, that means that there will be at least a temporary pause in the avalanche of television ads and other sorts of messages that have simply been a barrage on the American people, particularly in some of the most important critical states over the course of the last several months.

This has been a record-breaking campaign, record-breaking in terms of the amount of advertising, record-breaking in terms of the amount of money spent on this election. We’ll look at that in retrospect after the election’s over, and we’ll have some more information so that we can speak on more finalized data, but at this point, it’s really clear that just about everyone in the United States knows that the election is happening, and we can only hope that Americans will go out to the polls and vote, although tens of millions have already voted one way or another in terms of early voting opportunities.

But it’s also interesting that even with so much at stake, and we’re going to talk about that in terms of the election, it is also true that politics remains a favorite parlor sport of sorts for many Americans. It is also a bit of the oxygen on which the major media will feed, and it’s also, by the way, when it comes to the major media, a major source of their income because of advertising.

In the old age, that was radio and newspapers, television, but now, of course, vast millions and indeed billions of dollars spent in terms of digital advertising as well. There is virtually nowhere in the United States of America where you have been safe in recent months, not just to say in recent days and hours from this absolute avalanche of advertising and messaging. We’ll be looking at that also in retrospect once we have a clearer view of the election. But right now, let’s look in prospect. Let’s look forward what is going to be happening.

First of all, as we are thinking about the midterm elections, more than half the governorships are up for election, and that’s also interesting because we’re talking about the midterm elections. That means the two-year elections between presidential elections. Now, why would that be the case? 36 of the 50 governorships are up in this midterm election cycle. Why would that be so? Well, the easiest answer is this. It would be even less practical to consider that a majority of governorships would be open at the same time that you have a presidential election cycle.

The presidential election cycle understandably uses up so much of the oxygen in the entire system. It would be very, very difficult to have all those gubernatorial elections at the same time. Now, there’s about a third of the Senate up every two years because the Senate terms are six years, and they are now staggered so that roughly one-third of the Senate comes up every two years. That’s also a big challenge.

But when it comes to governorships, again, 36 are on the ballot this midterm election. They include the governorships of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, lots of ins up for election, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, lots of new governors perhaps, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and don’t leave out Wyoming.

Now, some of those, including incumbents running for reelection and in the main, as you’re looking at the incumbency, it is a huge political advantage, but we’re also looking at the fact that some of these states are just incredibly predictable in terms of being either red or blue. You usually don’t have to stay up late trying to figure out which party is going to win the Texas Governor’s seat, and even though it’s in the interest of the media to try it to make every race look like a close race, it’s unlikely that at the end of the day, Texas will be all that close just because of voter registration.

But then you compare that to California, and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is basically going to be coronated, not so much reelected, because it is just about implausible that a Republican gubernatorial nominee in California these days will have much traction ever.

In some of the other states, it is a real battle, and a lot of the attention has been directed towards the very big and closely watched contest between Kari Lake, the Republican nominee, and Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee there in Arizona. Very interesting race, lots of attention given to it, lots of attention to yet be given to it, especially when the polls start closing and the numbers start coming in.

As I said, roughly a third of the United States Senate this year, it’s 34 Senate seats open. Again, some of the most significant races of political attention this year have to do with the question of the Senate and who will control the Senate.

The big Senate races to watch are located in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Florida. Some of those may not be so close, but all of them will be really important. And the question is to, which party controls the United States Senate? And remember, that’s just a question of the majority of seats. If you have 51 senators for your party, you have a Senate majority, but it would be most comfortable if there is a larger margin, and Republicans are quite hopeful of taking control of the House and also of the Senate.

A shift in momentum towards the Republicans is something that has been noted even by the mainstream media and by democratic consultants and authorities over the course of the last several weeks. But will that turn out to be indicative of the vote? Well, it’ll take some time to get there, but in those crucial battleground states, the Senate elections are perhaps the most frenzied of all those that are being watched because control of the United States Senate, in one sense, is even more important than the United States House. Why? Why would that be so?

Well, it is because not only does the Senate deal with legislation, it also deals with confirmations, presidential appointments that require Senate confirmation. Whether or not the Senate is in the hands of the Republicans or the Democrats means a very great deal. There are other issues in terms of the various responsibilities assigned to the Senate and the House, but let’s turn to the House for a minute.

435 seats by definition, two-year terms. So every two years, the entire House of Representatives is up for election or reelection, and that’s a big number, 435, but don’t worry, you don’t have to look at them all in order to understand what’s going on because the other thing you need to note about the House is that it’s not only larger 435, not just a two-year term, but of those seats, given the political process and the polarization in the United States, given decades of redistricting by whichever party is in power, at least the majority of those years in the respective states.

The reality is of those 435 seats, most of them are incredibly safe. If you win the Democratic primary and one of those Democratic districts, you’re going to be elected. If you win the Republican primary, unless the Republican nomination and a Republican-dominated district, you’re almost sure to win there.

Even as you look back in American history, you go back, say, a matter of four or five decades, there were a lot of swing districts, not so much now by some of the most generous estimations, only about 80 of the 435 are actually swing districts, and even as you’re looking at the 80, it’s really something more like 30 or 40, and even as you’re looking at the House, there are probably, as in the Senate, about 10 seats that will tell the big story. What 10 will they be? Well, we may not know that until after the election.

Now, what about the momentum game? That’s something else to watch just as you’re thinking about the election, and in the run-up to the election, here is a pattern that you will note in most midterm elections. You’ll see it also in the every four-year general elections that include the presidency, but especially in the midterm elections, watch for this pattern. Over the course of time the mainstream media says, “This is a big, consequential election, but here is the pattern.”

But as the election looms closer, the mainstream media start to report, “You know we see a break in the pattern.” Maybe there are some interesting new stories here, but at the end of the day, the big thing is they want you to care about this election. Both parties want you to care about this election, and the mainstream media has every commercial reason to tell you that this is going to be a really, really big, really, really close election. And it often turns out that’s not only commercially powerful for the media, it also turns out to be true.

One of the reasons it often turns out to be true is because voters often do not take the vote all that seriously until you get closer and closer to election day, which is to say the percentage of the electorate that is undecided or admittedly undecided is a much larger group of the electorate until you get closer and closer to the election.

Now, there’s another big story here, and that is the fact that voters routinely mislead pollsters. One of the problems in the polls taken before the elections is that many people, and by the way, there’s human nature that is invoked here, and by that, I mean not that voters even intend to lie, is just that there is a mirror effect. When up pollster asks a question, many Americans simply respond with something they think will be right or close to right, popular or close to popular.

Sometimes even when it comes to pollsters, they give an answer, which is what they think the pollster wants to hear. Americans, in this sense, tend to be nice, and you don’t walk up to someone and say, “That’s a really ugly dog,” and even when you’re talking to a pollster, sometimes you don’t really want to say something that you think might not be understood, might not be affirmed.

Many Americans, when it comes to answering these kinds of questions, actually are very conflict-averse, and that turns out sometimes not to be a very good indication of what’s going to happen on election day, but it is not an evenly distributed problem. This is one of the reasons why Republican candidates, conservative candidates typically perform better than the polling.

Now, why is that so? Well, they might not trust pollsters because, after all, pollsters have traditionally undercounted conservatives. You say, “Well, that leads to a further undercount.” Well, yes, that’s why the polls are interesting, but the only polls that really matter are the ones that take place on the ballot.

So, in summary, for this part of The Briefing today, as you’re thinking about swing elections, swing states, swing seats, just recognize that really is where the action is, but we won’t know how it all turns out until sometime in coming days. That’s another part of the story. Election day is right now an election process.

We’ll be talking more about that as the events unfold, but as you’re thinking about the House, 435 seats, only about 80 of them ever in any kind of political doubt, only about half of those absolutely crucial, and you’re probably looking at about 10 to 20 really, really important electoral questions in the House.

When it comes to the Senate, of course, Senate seats are absolutely important. There are 100 of them, 34 of them are up. Every one of them important, but about 10 of those probably the most important and crucial when it comes to the 2022 election and the question of control of the Senate.

Part II

‘Democratic at Both Ends But Alabama in the Center’: Why a Fraternity of Presidents Made a Pilgrimage to Pennsylvania in the Last Weekend Before Election Day

When it comes to governorships, again, 36 of the 50, a lot to watch there.

But one of the things I was watching over the weekend is the fact that it was just one state that attracted three presidents. That means the current President of the United States, Joe Biden, his predecessor in office, former President Donald Trump, and his predecessor in office, former President Barack Obama, remember Joe Biden served as Vice President to President Barack Obama. All three of them were in one state just over the weekend. What was that state? Pennsylvania. No accident.

Pennsylvania includes several congressional seats that genuinely are in the swing seat margin, but the most important issue in the state of Pennsylvania is not the gubernatorial election or the House. The most important issue is the future the United States Senate.

When you’re looking at that race between former television, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Oz is the Republican nominee, by the way, and the Democratic nominee, the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, well, that’s an epic race. We’ve talked about different dimensions of it, but the presence of three presidents of the United States, two former presidents, the incumbent President in one state at one time, that tells you a great deal about how much is staked on just one state, and in this case, Pennsylvania.

Given the low polling numbers of the current President in terms of presidential popularity or favorability, the White House has been pretty controlled about where President Biden has gone out. But Pennsylvania is, of course, closely associated with Joe Biden. He, at one point, even as a senator from Delaware, described himself as the third Pennsylvania senator.

He often talks about being Joe from Scranton, but when it comes to Barack Obama, it’s interesting that in the last cycle, he wasn’t brought out all that much, but he was in this case when the Democrats in Pennsylvania put it all together, very, very interesting. But then again, you also had former President Donald Trump speaking there for the Republican ticket and doing so quite enthusiastically. You’re talking about two different regions of the state, and you’re also talking about a very interesting state.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who’s also a former chairman of the Democratic Party, once described the state that was his own state in which he had served as governor as being Democratic in the East Philadelphia, the Eastern seaboard, and in some portions of the west think Pittsburgh, but in his own words, Alabama in the center.

The presidents of three presidents in one state at one time, and that being the weekend before the election, called the attention of the New York Times. Of course, the paper reported, “The two parties’ strongest messengers, a fraternity of recent presidents, would descend on the pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania to open the last weekend of this year’s midterms, hoping to rally their voters in a proxy battle that would define both parties well beyond the election.”

Later in the article, we read this, “Pennsylvania has emerged as a central focus of both parties with a narrow Senate race between Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Republican that could decide control of the chamber.” Now, listen to this, “In the House where Republicans need to flip just five seeds nationwide to gain power, the party could flip three from Democrats in Pennsylvania alone,” and as the article says, “In 2024, Pennsylvania is likely to reprise its crucial role in determining presidential elections.” In other words, that’s all that’s at stake, that explains the presence of a fraternity. I like that term by the New York Times of recent presidents in Pennsylvania in one weekend.

Meanwhile, Peter Baker of the same newspaper noted this, “There was a time not that long ago when Joseph R. Biden Jr. could go where Barack Obama could not an emissary to parts of the country, not exactly gushing over the 44th president that was President Obama.” Now, says Baker, “the tables are turned, and it is Mr. Obama who jets from one battleground state to the next, while the 46th president that will be President Biden sticks largely to safe blue areas where he is still welcome.”

It’s also interesting to see a liberal newspaper like the New York Times described the contrast, “Mr. Obama, the urbane, soaring orator from Hawaii, and Mr. Biden, the backslapping blue collar pole from Delaware have always been a political odd couple born of different generations, demographics, and mentalities for years says the times in the White House, they sought the same goals with contrasting methods amid periodic tension, but now they come to this point in their relationship with Mr. Biden, reliant on his former running mate to validate his own presidency and persuade the country to embrace his leadership.”

Back during the Obama presidency was not unusual to hear those who knew television history refer to the duo of Obama and Biden as something of an odd couple. Meanwhile, former President Trump, as he was speaking for Republican candidates in Pennsylvania, did what he often does. He started naming or nicknaming his political adversaries on the Republican side, and he also ended up predictably talking about as much about himself as he did about the Republican candidates in Pennsylvania.

But I caught something else that was really interesting, and that was that President Biden, former President Obama, and former President Trump actually agreed on one thing. All three of them, in their own way, repeatedly told voters in Pennsylvania, with the rest of the country listening in, that the 2022 election cycle was the most important or consequential of their lifetimes. That was the message from those three presidents that fraternity a president says the times to the voters of Pennsylvania and thus to the country. Is it true?

Well, the importance of Pennsylvania was certainly underlined by the fact that the three presidents were there, but it’s also very significant that, at least in this sense, they were saying exactly the same thing. “This election, they said to voters, is the most consequential election of your lifetime.” Now, it’s easy to roll your eyes at that kind of comment. It’s easy to say that’s just political propaganda. That’s just the way the game is played. But I want to argue that, at least on that point, those three presidents were not only saying the same thing, they were all absolutely right: “This is the most consequential election of our lifetimes.”

Now, how can you say that? How can you justify that kind of historical judgment? Well, it comes down to this. This election is more important than the last election, and at that time, in 2020, that election was the most important election, the most consequential election of your lifetime, 2022, just more so. 2024, even more so. Why would that pattern be true? That pattern is almost certain to continue, by the way. Well, why is it? So let’s look at a little historical perspective.

Now in the first place, let’s not say that 2022 is the most consequential election in American history. That would not make a great deal of sense. But we are having to look back to, say, 1788 with the election of George Washington as the nation’s first president, or 1860, a moment of maximum tension in the United States that would eventually lead to civil war. That was, of course, the election that brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House.

So let’s just put those in a special historical category. The most important part of the statement that this is the most consequential election of your lifetime is probably those last words of your lifetime. But then again, those words about the most important election are actually very, very crucial and, in truth, very, very sustainable. I think this is the most consequential election of our lifetimes, and the next one will be, as I said, even more so.

Let’s look back again the historical perspective. This doesn’t mean that this is the most important election in American history, but our own era has brought about a political dynamic, a new dynamic, and Christians need to understand what this means for our citizenship. If you have a little bit of time on your hands, I’ve suggested this before. Look at the platforms adopted by the Democrats and Republicans in 1960.

John F. Kennedy squared off against Richard M. Nixon. Now, that election was famously close, but the two party platforms were, if anything, even closer. Then Alabama Governor George Wallace looked at the two parties and said, “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them,” and on so many issues, there actually wasn’t much difference.

Arguably, the Democratic Party in 1960 was, if anything, slightly more conservative than the Republican party, especially when it came to some economic issues. The Democrats, by the way, on military issues, were accusing the Republicans of having allowed the development by the Soviets of a missile gap to the disadvantage of the United States. Within a short amount of time, the Democratic Party was actually calling for tax cuts, a cut in the capital gains tax.

Well, you fast forward to the end of the 1960s. Things are beginning to change and very fast. What explains that? Well, it’s the political, moral and cultural, sexual, and other revolutions that took place in the 1960s. Those revolutions aren’t even mentioned in the 1960 party platforms of either party. You don’t see feminism there. You don’t see abortion there. You don’t see what would later become LGBTQ issues there. You don’t see religious liberty on the line. You don’t see the great moral cleavages and political divisions that now mark America’s political landscape.

Back in 1960, it took a skilled political eye to tell the political platforms apart, but everything began to change in the 1960s, and a pivotal year was 1968 when Richard Nixon, who had lost the 1960 election to John F. Kennedy, won the election in 1968, defeating then Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate. After the loss in 1960, the Democrats swerved far left. By 1972, they had nominated Minnesota Senator George McGovern, who was one of the most liberal characters on the entire American political landscape.

Basically, since, say, 1968, the Republican Party has been moving progressively more conservative, no irony intended there, and on the left, you see the Democratic Party moving in a far more progressive liberal or leftward direction during the same time.

You fast forward from 1960 to 1972, from 1972 to 1980, you take just one issue, like the issue of abortion. By 1980, the two parties are in a very different position on a question as basic as the sanctity of human life, which neither party had even imagined to address in 1960. You fast forward from 1980, say to 2016, and the Republican Party platform is clearly pro-life. The Democratic Party platform is not only calling for basically unrestricted abortion but is demanding that American taxpayers pay for it. You add to abortion, the LGBTQ revolution. You add to that the issue of religious liberty. You add to that all the different issues that have emerged.

At this point, the two parties face off over an entire constellation of issues ranging across moral, cultural, social, economic, and political issues. The two parties agreed on most things in 1960. They don’t agree on much of anything in 1922. Take LGBTQ issues, religious liberty, affirmative action, immigration. At this point, the two parties can hardly agree even on what time it is.

We’re now looking at the fact that Congress is going to address issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and thus those issues will be decided in the question of which party has control in one or both houses in the Congress. President Biden has promised that if he has a Democratic majority in both Houses, he said the first legislation he will sign is pro-abortion legislation. In his words, codifying Roe v. Wade, the reality is the text of the legislation is far more radical even than that.

The bill proposed by the Democrats when it comes to, in their words, codifying same-sex marriage, it actually explicitly precludes any religious liberty appeal by citizens on the basis of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. You talk about a divide. That divide is just getting deeper, it’s just getting wider. And this is where Christians understand that divide is not just moral. It’s not just cultural. It’s not just partisan. It is a worldview divide.

So when three presidents tell you that the 2022 election is the most consequential of your lifetime, well, they’re actually representing two different parties, two different agendas, but one truth, they’re right.

This election is the most important and consequential of your lifetime, and I can just about promise the next one will be even more so.

Part III

Politically Right and Politically Gracious: An Approach for Faithful Voting on Election Day

One final thought. It really is important to be right in terms of our political decisions, our political votes, our political assessments. It’s also important to be nice, and by that, I mean gentle and kind and gracious. And those are not incompatible.

I mentioned George McGovern, that incredibly liberal Democratic nominee of 1962, who lost in the landslide to Richard Nixon, and by the way, Nixon won 49 of the 50 states. George McGovern won just one out of the 50 states, and yet, at one point, my daughter and I went to a public lecture by George McGovern as he was toward the sunset of his life, and he wasn’t a bitter man. He was a quite gracious man. His politics absolutely awful, but his kindness pretty remarkable.

When I walked up with my daughter, Katie, and there was Senator McGovern, Senator McGovern rose from his chair in order to greet my daughter, spoke to her so graciously, and was just incredibly kind standing there, talking to a teenager and her father at the end of a public lecture.

When it comes to positions on the issues, I am absolutely certain that Richard Nixon was more correct than George McGovern, but when it comes to personality, there aren’t that many people who speak wistfully and graciously about some fond memory of Richard Nixon. On the other hand, I just shared one with you about Senator George McGovern.

Maybe we should have the goal of combining the right position with the right kind of graciousness as well.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can call follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow, election day, for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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