Midterm Elections: The Flippable 5

Connor Foote, In-Depth Editor

Tuesday, Nov. 8 is shaping up to be one of the most influential election days in modern America. After Joe Biden’s election to the presidential office in 2020 was fraught with claims of fraud by the then-president Donald Trump and the infamous Jan. 6 riot disrupted ballot counting at the U.S. Capitol, many saw the country as being somewhat stabilized; a leader many thought to be immature was replaced with someone more palatable. However, Biden’s approval rating currently sits at 41.8% after a July bottom of 37.5% (FiveThirtyEight), reflecting the American public’s refusal of a moderate politician whose agenda has been largely stymied. This leaves the Democratic Party stuck between two options: support their current leader, or embrace a new wave of progressives. A group of Democrats running for Senate represent this new, progressive left-wing front: the Flippable Five.

Back in August, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasely tweeted that she, along with Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Florida Rep. Val Demings and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, was launching the “Flippable Five Fund” in an effort to support all five of their campaigns. The term was coined because all candidates are running in swing states where they have the potential to flip Senate seats currently occupied by Republicans. Besides that, they all share two important characteristics: their progressive nature, and their more powerful opponents. Key issues such as affordable healthcare, equal housing opportunities, and criminal justice reform all ride near the top of their platforms.

Barnes in particular is fighting one of the most disputed elections this year. Against incumbent Senator Ron Johnson, he currently holds a 47.0% disadvantage, while Johnson is slightly higher with 49.6% (FiveThirtyEight). Neither candidate has held a majority, and positions have fluctuated throughout the campaign, signaling a near toss-up. Coming from honest roots, Barnes credits his father’s membership in a union as the reason he was able to grow up middle class in Milwaukee. Much of his campaign, like his Flippable Five peers’, rests on supporting working families in a time where the divide between rich and poor has only widened. The Hawk Talk reached out for comment.

“In order to pass bold legislation to help working families, codify Roe v. Wade, and bring opportunities back to Wisconsin, we need to elect Mandela Barnes and expand the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” his campaign said in an email. 

These are platforms his peers share, hoping to express the growing progressive faction in this upcoming cycle. However, their chances are slimming as Election Day approaches, uncertainty showing that America is still far from being the undivided union of its inception.