Why Red Wave Failed – Republicans Not Clear on Plans, Dems Delivered Legislatively, Trump Plays Role as Spoiler
Mobilizing and energizing a base and throwing muti-millions at a campaign are not guaranteed strategies of winning. Unless there is something more that campaigns are offering – real concrete ideas for an electorate to believe in and vote for.
For Republicans to regain power nationally, the GOP cannot be doing what they had been, wading through elections without a solid platform and just talking up a Trump return to the White House. That’s hardly a winning plan, arguably not a plan at all.
Republicans did not offer enough specifics, real plans
Say inflation is the number one reason why Democrats should be replaced, as Republicans have been saying. Then shouldn’t Republicans be offering a policy blueprint on to how they plan to reverse inflation. Or that securing the nation’s borders is a goal, besides building a wall (unpopular idea), has anyone heard of any other plan of deterrence? Bottom line is Republicans have not articulated concreate solutions, specific policy on either inflation or border security – the two big issues they ran on.
This purposeful vagueness is why the GOP got a shellacking, again.
How big a loss was the midterm, what was expected?
Traditionally in a midterm where one party is in power and holds the presidency, the other political party would regain both chambers of Congress, or at the very least, win the House by a large margin. That party would gain on average a net gain of at least 20 seats in the House, and likely 3-4 in the Senate.
Republicans – candidates and pundits – were predicting a red wave, a red tsunami. An example, Sen. Ted Cruz said Republicans would pick up 30 to 50 House seats for a huge majority. He said in the Senate it would be a 54 majority for the GOP.
Neither happened. It turns out Democrats will hold its majority in the Senate and potentially improve their standing from two years ago should they win Georgia’s Senate runoff in December. The House is still up for grabs (as of press time) and whoever wins the majority, it would be by the slimmest of margins. Democrats also surpassed expectations winning in governors and state legislature races in key battleground states.
Democrats delivered enough legislative wins in two years
While one half of the midterms had to do with what Republicans failed to do, the other half is most likely that Democrats did enough in Congress to extend their power. President Joe Biden’s executive order to cancel federal student loan debt up to $20,000 went a long way to getting Gen Z and millennials’ votes.
Exit polls showed this demographic overwhelmingly voted Democrat. And it doesn’t help that this debt cancellation executive order is now being held up in court and challenged by Republicans. Changes to Medicare that will make prescriptions drugs more affordable through Medicare’s new negotiating power, putting a cap on out-of-pocket drug expenses, capping the cost of insulin – these were all major pluses for voters this election.
What was the Republican alternative? Threaten to dismantle Medicare and Social Security. There are other tracks of accomplishments that Democrats presented to voters from the CHIPS Act (boosting high-tech manufacturing) to the Infrastructure bipartisan bill (rebuilding American highways, roads, bridges, airports, etc. and boosting jobs), to the COVID-19 bill that made vaccinations free to everyone and propped up small businesses (saving many from going under) with loans, many of which were forgiven, and so on.
On COVID-19 what was the Republican response? Resisting mask mandates, questioning the science of vaccines. Talks of government overreach when more than 1 million Americans died from COVID-19.
The danger that is Trump looming
The midterms was also swayed by Trump, but not in a good way for Republicans. Outside of hardcore Trumpers – most Americans are just exhausted with Trumpism, the vitriol, the division, the chaos, the racism, Trump’s ego and ultimately his threats to democracy and the rule of law. Unless a voter is gung-ho for militias, insurrections, and white supremacy – besides Trump’s most ardent followers, who wants to go back to that mess, to that dark chapter in American history?
Are Republicans done with the Trump cult?
It’s arguable that many Republicans entertained Trump as their leader – with all his flaws and facts-bending — to hold on to power leading up to 2020. But if political fealty means losing the House and Senate in 2018, losing the presidency in 2020, and now losing in the midterm (again). And worse yet, the high probability of losing in the 2024 presidential race, perhaps the Trump train is running on its last tracks. How much losing can a party tolerate?
In the aftermath of the midterm flop, Republicans are in the thick of a mini-Trump revolt. Conservative media such as Fox News, the New York Post and Wall Street Journal are turning their backs on Trump. Talks of a new leader for the Republican party — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – are gaining prominence. It’s not just conservative media wishing upon a star. A new Texas poll shows 43% of likely Texas Republican primary voters say DeSantis would be their first choice for president, while fewer than one-third of likely voters said they would select Trump as their first choice.
More reflection and cooperation
With Republicans now in control of the U.S. House, it would be refreshing finally to see true bipartisanship. Not just on one or two major policies, but a streak of successes for both parties to take credit and for Americans to benefit. The last thing our country needs is for a House leadership (under Trump’s behest) to launch investigations into Hunter Biden or Dr. Anthony Fauci as what’s being reported.
If Republicans decide to choose this course of action, then they can expect more of the same: losing elections.