The only two letters that matter | Eastern North Carolina Now | Fewer than four weeks remain before the midterm elections. Seasoned political pundits always await the “October Surprise,” some last-minute revelation that impacts the outcome.

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Tom Campbell

    Fewer than four weeks remain before the midterm elections. Seasoned political pundits always await the "October Surprise," some last-minute revelation that impacts the outcome. Short of the Herschel Walker expose, this has been a relatively quiet campaign season.

    Election polls are frequently dead wrong in predicting outcomes. Polling is difficult today. Since landline phones are all but abandoned, phone surveys, especially mobile phones, don't give a conclusive reading. We won't answer calls from callers we don't recognize. Online polls also have problems and mail is fraught with its own sampling problems. Besides, things can change so quickly that even an accurate poll taken three weeks ago can't be trusted.

    Two things we do have trust in. First, the closeness of state and national races. But the biggest reveal is that only two letters seem to matter in how people will vote. The letters "R" or "D" beside a candidate's name predicts how the vote will be cast.

    We are so tribal that sticking with the party, or the party with which we most closely identify that little else matters. Issues don't matter. Truth doesn't either. Facts are fungible. Character isn't a consideration. Not only is education not important, it is scorned. Those with higher education degrees are mocked as the "elite."

    Republican candidates are in the bag for Trump, loyally denying the 2020 election results and paying obeisance to the high holy one. Here in North Carolina that list includes incumbent Congressmen Greg Murphy, Virginia Foxx, David Rouzer, Dan Bishop, Richard Hudson and Ted Budd, as well as Courtney Geels, Tyler Lee, Bo Hines and Sandy Smith.

    People on team Trump say they worry about whether the elections will be fairly conducted without interference. They should be. It is Republicans who are conducting intimidation and harassment campaigns against election officials, coordinating records requests that waste time and resources, then demanding partisan poll watchers to confront those trying to count the votes. No wonder so many election workers are refusing to work this cycle. And guess who is taking their places? We all should be worried about election interference.

    Let's examine some of the rogues in the GOP gallery. In the first district there's Sandy Smith, accused of hitting one husband with an alarm clock, threatening another husband with a frying pan and trying to run over him with her car. She's also accused of punching her daughter. She denies those charges, of course. Smith says if elected she will demand that anyone who stole the 2020 election from Trump should be executed. Does that include all 81 million Biden voters?

    Then there's ex-football player Bo Hines in the 13th district, who said, "You know, a lot of people have likened the situation that's going on right now as, you know, they say we're in a banana republic. I think that's an insult to all the Banana Republics across the country. I mean, at least the manager of Banana Republic - unlike our President - knows where he is and why he's there and what he's doing." If elected Bo will push for a 10-year moratorium on all immigrants. Good luck trying to get our universities, corporate America, construction companies, yard maintenance firms and others to join. Maybe it's not Bo time?

    And don't forget Herschel Walker and Marjorie Taylor Greene. She said those who stormed the capitol on January 6th were "civically engaged American citizens exercising their constitutional freedoms." Or Iowa's Senate candidate Zach Nunn, who was mystified the Capitol Police couldn't "stop a bunch of middle-aged individuals from walking onto the floor."

    Are these the Republicans' best and brightest candidates? I'm not saying Democrats don't have their own crazies, but we now understand why Kevin McCarthy says that should he become House Speaker he will initiate a "Commitment to America." Columnist Dana Milbank says she gets it. Some of McCarthy's '22 candidates should be considered for commitment.

    We won't deny Democrats have their own crazies and we don't know who or what they're in the bag for. It isn't Joe Biden. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley appears to be running away from, not with the president. We do know Dems are vehemently opposed to the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, but that issue alone won't get them to the winner's circle.

    Let me ask you. When was the last time you truly felt like the states were United? When we were all pulling together? Was it 9/11? I would never want us to endure what they are currently experiencing, but I admire the people of Ukraine. Against all logic they are fighting one of the most powerful countries in the world. Their steadfast belief in themselves, their cause, their trust in their leaders and fierce fighting for freedom demonstrates what can happen when a nation is united.

    We've lost our moral compass. I don't recognize the America we live in and worry about our future. I do know that the most important factor in an election shouldn't be the letter beside a candidate's name.

      Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina Broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the statewide half-hour TV program NC SPIN that aired 22 1/2 years. Contact him at
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