Ed Kilgore: Pacific Grove Author Talks About His Book "Election 2014"

Nov 6, 2015

Pacific Grove resident and political commentator Ed Kilgore has a new book that examines the 2014 mid-term election. It was an election in which the Republicans achieved a majority in the Senate and now control Congress.

The first thing you notice about Ed Kilgore is his infectious laugh. His round gentle face, smooth southern drawl and easy manner stands in stark contrast to his frantic life.  Every day he grinds out 12 essays for an online blog at the left of center Washington Monthly.  It’s incredibly demanding.

“It’s the perfect profession for the born procrastinator, cause I do well with frequent deadlines. Well this is very frequent,” says Kilgore.

The blog is called the Political Animal, which describes Kilgore perfectly. He was born in the Deep South, majored in an interdisciplinary humanities program, or as he calls it the “pre-unemployment curriculum.”

“I spent many years as a political staffer; mostly in writing. I was a speech writer for three Governors and a Senator. And then worked for a think tank in Washington, and that organization allowed me to start a blog,” says Kilgore.

And it was the freedom of writing an online blog that brought Kilgore to the Monterey Peninsula.

“Once I decided I could live anywhere I wanted, why not live in paradise? And I also followed the woman to whom I am now married. So it was the perfect move for me and I am very happy here,” says Kilgore.

He wrote the book about the congressional midterm elections titled, “Election 2014, Why the Republicans Swept the Midterms” because of what he calls a new puzzling phenomenon in politics: Democrats tend to pick up Congressional seats in Presidential elections and Republicans pick up seats in mid-terms.

“So a big part of what I wanted to do in the book was explain why this keeps happening and what it means for the future,” says Kilgore.

In his book, he writes there are two reasons for this cycle. The first is opportunity. Are there seats up for grabs in states that tend to favor one party but have an incumbent from the other?

And The second has to do with the voters themselves. According to Kilgore, the voters in a Presidential election are different from the voters in a congressional midterm election.

“The people most likely to turn out in midterms are now highly correlated with the tendency to vote Republican, and the opposite is true for the Democrats.  So this has a lot to do with this back and forth oscillation,” says Kilgore.

He adds this back and forth cycle is likely to continue for at least the next couple of congressional elections.

“There is going to be a similarly strong Democratic landscape in 2016 in Senate.  2018 may be the best Republican landscape in history,” says Kilgore.

As for the partisan warfare going on in Washington, Kilgore says some of the conflict is natural since Americans disagree on some fundamental policy questions. So naturally that division in the country is reflected in Congress.

“The delusion, however, that getting more and more excited about politics is what wins elections I think is a problem. You do not get additional votes for being psyched out of your skill when you go to the polls,” says Kilgore. 

And Kilgore says there is a lot of money being made by people and media outlets in getting voters psyched out their skulls.

Kilgore’s book “Election 2014; Why the Republicans Swept the Midterms” is published by University of Pennsylvania Press. It is 118 pages.