The 2022 midterms are almost in the books. The large red wave did not materialize, although Republicans did pick up some congressional seats and, apparently, the House. There are significant and important reasons why a large red wave didn’t occur and one large warning for Republicans.
First, before anyone says Republicans had bad candidates, keep in mind that the Democrats won the Senate with John Fetterman and Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-AZ, before him. Bad candidates didn’t stop them, and this article addresses why.
It is important to remember that in 2010, the first midterm election after President Barack Obama was elected, Democrats lost 63 seats in the House of Representatives – two less than I predicted at that time. Before the election, Democrats had 256 House seats and the Republicans only 179. The pendulum swing of 63 seats in favor of Republicans was historically large.
The economy of 2010 was not favorable to Democrats. The unemployment rate peaked at 9.9% in March of that election year and wound up at 9.6% average for the year. Politically, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House. They spent historically high amounts and pushed through Obamacare without a single Republicans vote in Congress. Importantly, Republican voters were more enthusiastic and under all of those circumstances, the Democrats lost those 63 seats.
Even though the economy of 2022 was also quite bad, and a crime wave gripped the country, the pendulum swing was more muted than in 2010. Here are the six reasons why and the huge warning facing Republicans.
In the last 12 years, America has become even more divided. That has occurred, in part, because we continue to sort ourselves out by red states becoming more Red, i.e. Florida, Ohio and Iowa, and blue states have become more blue, i.e. California and now Pennsylvania and Colorado.
In the process, we created congressional districts within those states that are more favorable to the dominant party in those states. As a result, Senate and House seats have become less likely to flip. That means large pendulum swings are less likely in the foreseeable future.
We also have a divided media. The left’s media tells a completely different story to their customers, including incredibly false claims about inflation and crime.
In 2022, there were 212 House Republicans. Given that starting point, expecting a red wave of 40 additional seats was most unlikely. It may well be that a high of 230 seats, for either party, is the new normal in the years ahead.
In this Midterm Election, 21 Republican seats were up for election and just 13 Democrat seats. If that wasn’t difficult enough, in six of those 21 seats, the Republican had retired. That meant contested primaries would decide the Republican candidate. That process did not work out well for Republicans – consider Pennsylvania.
Obviously, that meant 2022 was going to be an uphill climb. The 2024 election, on the other hand, features only 10 Republican seats up for election versus 21 Democrat seats. Perhaps 2024 could see Republicans pick up more Senate seats.
Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman. Period. Full stop. Democrat voters will vote for the Democrat almost regardless of who it is.
In California, the unknown, appointed Democrat Attorney General Rob Bonta (who had no law enforcement experience before he was appointed) is set to garner almost the same percentage of the vote as the nationally known Governor Gavin Newsom. In plain terms. the Democrats are far more loyal to their candidates than Republicans.
Government spending was 44% of the economy in 2020. Countless Americans are cashing those checks. As I wrote here, the Democrats long game is to create dependency on government to ensure future constituents and voters. In 2022, that worked.
In modern American politics, Republicans not only have to beat their Democrat opponents, they also have to defeat the local and national Democrat media. That latter task often proves harder than the former.
In 2022, like in many elections before, the Republican Party strategy was simply to watch the party of the White House fall. In years past, that has worked.
In this divided era, Republicans simply cannot count on that strategy anymore. They should have told the nation, in bold and unmistakable terms, how they were going to combat crime and inflation. They should have said they would rescind the 87,000 IRS agents and would stop the flow of drugs across the open border.
Those are majority positions. While it is true that the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered an agenda – it was not known to voters. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell famously refused to provide an agenda at all.
If you want someone to follow you, it is a good idea to tell them where you are going. Going forward, to be competitive, Republicans have to do that every election, now just in presidential years. Republicans simply have to try harder than Democrats.
All of that leads us to one, very large warning for Republicans in this election.
Divided parties do not win national elections – just ask late President Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats of 1968. Republican infighting in 2023 and 2024 will doom elections for Republicans.
Going back to Pennsylvania, the fight over who should have been the Republican candidate for Senate could well have cost Republicans the seat. Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz was former President Donald Trump’s choice and that did not sit well with the Pennsylvania Republican establishment nor with the Washington establishment. That rift never healed, and now we have Senator John Fetterman.
In the final analysis, the 2022 midterms proved Republicans can have the issues dramatically on their side and still not create a wave. They need a strategy overhaul and to realize that a Republican civil war for the presidency in 2024 will result in a Democrat White House.