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Five Lessons to Be Learned from the GOP’s Sad Night in the Red Wave That Wasn’t

No red wave occurred. Republicans underperformed, despite still being in a position to win the House, while Democrats exhaled a big sigh of relief. Joe Biden had a great night, but Donald Trump had a terrible one.

Here are five conclusions from a midterm election that the public polls, in contrast to two years ago, mostly correctly predicted: Although there is still a chance for both parties to win control of the Senate, the GOP’s chances of doing so have diminished. Dems’ control of the House remains precarious.

If, as anticipated, Trump decides to run for president again, he will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican nomination. But after Tuesday, Trump’s standing in the party is significantly worse. Truth be told, the GOP’s night could have been much better if not for the former president’s interventions.

Just take a look at how the candidates who were closest to Trump performed in states where more establishment Republicans were also running. Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, were neck-and-neck in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp easily defeated Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who enraged President Trump with his opposition to annulling the 2020 election results.

Republican Don Bolduc was defeated by Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire in a contest that didn’t really appear competitive, while Gov. Chris Sununu, who once called Trump “fucking nuts,” easily won reelection. J.D. Vance, the preferred candidate of Trump in Ohio, fared better, defeating Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by a sizable majority in the election for the U.S. Senate in that state. But he fell far short of the margin achieved by more conservative Republican incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine.

It was still early in Arizona, with only approximately half of the anticipated votes cast. However, Katie Hobbs was being followed by Kari Lake. Even if she wins, the outcome will be closer than what political experts from both parties had projected if a more conservative Republican, Karrin Taylor Robson, had prevailed.

Chuck Coughlin, a seasoned Republican strategist based in Phoenix, remarked, “I mean, come on.” “Republicans should find this to be a piece of cake… This cycle would be an ass-kick if Karrin Taylor Robson was the [gubernatorial] nominee. But our candidates are so awful they don’t have a broad appeal.

Additionally, this is a non-presidential cycle, which, according to Coughlin, is biased against the White House and the ruling party. That won’t be the case during an election cycle. Trump no longer benefits from that support.

The Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who could challenge Trump for the White House, was reelected by a margin of 20 points. Trump won the state by slightly over 3 percentage points in 2020.

Biden has a scheduling issue.
Given that Democrats’ chances on Tuesday appear to be far better than predicted, it’s feasible that some Democrats will support Biden. Second terms were won by presidents who endured significantly harsher midterms.

Give Biden his due, then. But it’s difficult to claim that Democrats outperformed expectations on Tuesday either because of or in spite of Biden. His terrible approval rating has been at 41% for the entire year. This month, he will turn 80, and a majority of Democrats polled earlier this year said they’d prefer someone else to be the party’s nominee.

However, the calendar and Democrats’ hesitation to take any action that may harm him — and, by extension, the party — before the midterm elections did work in Biden’s favor. That command has since vanished. A growing amount of pressure will be placed on Biden to resign, especially from the left, even though it is unlikely that any major Democrats will mount a credible challenge to him.

It’s already taking place. A left-wing organization that tried in 2020 to get progressives to endorse Biden will begin airing digital advertisements in New Hampshire on Wednesday that emphasize his “very low approval rating” and paint him as a weak incumbent. This initiative was first disclosed to POLITICO.

One advertisement from the “#DontRunJoe” campaign by RootsAction.org states, “We cannot risk losing in 2024.” “We shouldn’t stake our future on Joe Biden’s dismal popularity,. Extremism is also a problem for Democrats.

Democrats positioned themselves as a centrist alternative to the excesses of the GOP throughout the year, but especially in the final weeks of the campaign. Voters on Tuesday did not seem to believe that, however, despite the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned and the hundreds of election fraud candidates that Republicans put on the ballot.

In early exit polls, about similar numbers of voters believed Republicans and Democrats were “too extremist.” The exit poll results were consistent with a study conducted immediately before the election by the center-left organization Third Way, which revealed that respondents saw Republicans and Democrats as being equally out of the middle.

Republicans were hampered by the fact that voters’ top issue, right after inflation, was abortion. And a number of the most well-known Republican election skeptics lost, including Doug Mastriano, the party’s candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. Few political analysts anticipated that Lake may lose in Arizona.

But it’s not like Americans thought of Democrats as the rational party. That was related to crime in some way. Republicans launched advertisements around the country linking Democrats to “defunding the police,” bail reform, and growing crime rates. The ads included grainy, black-and-white photos and CCTV footage of crimes in action.

It wasn’t effective everywhere, and it wasn’t effective as well as Republicans had hoped. But Democrats continue to face obstacles due to the legacy of “defund the police.” Cheri Beasley, a former member of the North Carolina Supreme Court who was the target of vicious Republican campaigning focused on crime, was defeated by Rep.

Ted Budd is in the race for the U.S. Senate there. And in Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson didn’t overtake Mandela Barnes in the polls until the GOP started running advertisements portraying him as an extreme on crime. Late on Tuesday, Johnson was just ahead of Barnes.

The Democratic map doesn’t expand. Despite a generally successful night for Democrats, geography more than a particular candidate may have been the cause of the party’s largest setback.

Yes, the Democrats defended a sizable portion of their map of the 2020 election. But in two significant states where Democrats had sought to compete for years, the situation was quite different. DeSantis destroyed his Democratic opponent, former Governor Charlie Crist, in Florida, a once-swing state, and Sen. Marco Rubio did the same to Rep. Val Demings in his reelection campaign.

The same thing happened in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott easily defeated Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke embodied Democrats’ hopes that Texas would soon turn blue due to demographic changes in his unexpectedly successful fight for the U.S. Senate in Texas four years prior. When the race was called, he was trailing Abbott by more than 10 percentage points, and Democrats were in danger of losing every statewide election in the state.

Given those outcomes, Democrats in Texas and Florida in 2024 will find it difficult to claim that their states will be up for grabs anytime soon. Late on Tuesday, a Democratic consultant who counsels significant party financiers called the two states “huge money drains.”

There’s nothing we can do about those places, he continued, given the Republican advantages there. McCarthy and the Republicans are in for a challenging two years. The odds are still in favor of the Republicans taking control of the House. And the political challenge a party has whenever it comes to power is that it will be expected to lead.

However, next year will be considerably more challenging for Republicans than normal. One benefit is that the GOP conference’s hardliners will now make up a majority. The GOP’s Matt Gaetzs and Marjorie Taylor Greenes won’t be tweeting in the wind anymore.

Because of this, Kevin McCarthy, the likely next speaker, will find it challenging to govern. That goes for his party’s lackluster showing on Tuesday. He had very high standards for himself. The investigations that House Republicans plan to launch next year include those into the financial practices of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, the response to the coronavirus, and the American pullout from Afghanistan. McCarthy will have to deal with requests for Biden’s impeachment from within the party.

Let the probes start, a Republican campaign strategist for the House said. It will be quite brutal. Democrats are betting on the possibility that it will backfire on Republicans as well. According to longtime Democratic adviser Pete Giangreco, “Once they’re in charge of something, they own it. And these Republicans are the most radical political party in the history of the country, and they will do things like national abortion bans.” These people “run every red light,” I said.

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