What, if anything, did the midterms tell us about the country — other than underwhelming Republicans could still take the House and Senate?
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, American elections radically changed to mail-in and early voting. They did so in a wild variety of state-by-state ways. Add ranked voting and a required majority margin to the mess and the result is that once cherished Election Day balloting becomes increasingly irrelevant.
Election Night also no longer exists. Returns are not counted for days. It is intolerable for a modern democracy to wait and wait for all sorts of different ballots both cast and counted under radically different and sometimes dubious conditions.
The Democrats — with overwhelming media and money advantages — have mastered these arts of massive and unprecedented early, mail-in, and absentee voting. Old-fashioned Republicans count on riling up their voters to show up on Election Day. But it is far easier to finesse and control the mail-in ballots than to “get out the vote.”
—Columnist Victor Davis Hanson
No excuses, Republicans. Everyone thought you had just about the ideal issue environment for a midterm election, and the exit polls verified it. Seven in ten voters said they were “dissatisfied” or “angry” with the state of the country. Around three-quarters of voters nationally characterized the state of the economy as “poor” or “not good,” and the same amount said that inflation has caused them severe or moderate hardship. About two-thirds said that gas prices have been causing them hardship. You had parents livid about the learning loss in schools because of the long closures for Covid-19 and inappropriate materials in the curriculum. You had an unpopular president, who was such a liability that Democrats couldn’t let him go anywhere near a swing state.
And the nation, deeply dissatisfied with the way the Democrats were running things, looked at what the GOP offered as the alternative and concluded, “Nope, I’ll stick with what the Democrats are giving me” in a lot of key places.
If you can’t elect a lot of Republicans in an environment like this, when can you?
—Veteran political analyst Jim Geraghty
We will probably end up with the House. We might get the Senate, maybe after a run-off in Georgia. Gee, familiar? But we are not going to obliterate the Dems.
Here’s a big factor – much of America is more liberal than we want to accept, and a whole lot of Americans are willing to tolerate the garbage policies Democrats push. Some people just don’t want freedom – they liked the COVID crap and support woke fascism. There are a lot of these people, though not in Florida, and liberals are gonna be liberal no matter how poor and miserable that makes them and everyone else.
A lot of voters will never vote for us. We have to fix that.
Election night 2022 sucked, and that’s not what we were expecting. The Democrats, for their part, will be able to put off a much-needed personal inventory for a couple more years. The lesson they will take is that nothing matters – they can screw up and move up, and that seems to be true. Biden certainly runs – that senile weirdo thinks this is a personal vindication. It’s not, but that does not matter. We conservatives, however, need to think through clearly how the hell we can keep election night 2024 from being another letdown.
—Columnist Kurt Schlichter
Big government pays off for far too many Americans. Far too many Americans either have government jobs or receive extensive government entitlement funds. A vote for Republicans puts their standard of living in jeopardy. We remain deeply divided as a country by party. Those voting for Democrats don’t want smaller government; they receive a lot of money from Democrats. It’s understandable in these challenging times. The pandemic has impacted the confidence of citizens. They’re seeing inflation impact their standard of living, and they look to government for relief. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 57% of U.S. households paid no federal income taxes for 2021, up substantially from the 44% before the pandemic. They have gotten used to free money from government, rent relief in tough times, and the promises of student debt relief. When you get more from government than you put in, you’re not sure you want a party in control that commits to ending the entitlements you depend on.
—Terry Paulson is PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker
Democrats still voted for Democratic candidates, regardless of Fetterman’s clear cognitive inability to serve in the Senate and despite President Joe Biden’s failures, harm to the middle class, and unpopularity.
Most Republicans are similar party loyalists, but not quite to the same degree — at least if some feared supporting a hardcore Trump-endorsed candidate might give them grief among family and friends.
Winning or losing means revving up party bases, not running as much on a variety of issues. Biden’s vicious attacks on conservatives as semi-fascists and un-American worked. When he recklessly warned that democracy’s death was synonymous with Democrats losing, he further inflamed his base.
—Victor Davis Hanson
“Much as I think it’s despicable the Biden strategy of demonizing Republicans, and attacking Republicans, and defaming Republicans, I think did have an impact and will probably become the definition of the Democratic Party.”
Democrats used the pandemic in 2020 as an excuse to expand access to voting. This expansion has been going on for years, of course, and the result is that it’s easier than ever to cast a ballot. Thanks to bulk-mail ballots, millions of Americans don’t even have to leave their house to do so, much less truly authenticate who they are.
Unfortunately, that’s how you end up with millions of poorly informed people voting, largely for Democrats. If citizens took their responsibility seriously, if they were knowledgable beyond the misinformation and disinformation blaring through mainstream media outlets, they would vote for candidates who treasure our Constitution. Instead, we get Democrats, in large part because what uninformed voters do hear is that Republicans “don’t want you to vote.” That’s not true, but lies are powerful.
Meanwhile, the Democrat strategy of running against Donald Trump apparently worked to firm up their base, as did Joe Biden’s two big speeches about “protecting democracy.” Yes, most voters care a lot about how inflation is torching their household budgets and how criminals are literally stealing their wallets, but Democrats and their media super PAC were able to paint key Republicans as “election deniers” and stooges of the Bad Orange Man, which equaled “scary extremist” to the voter who listens to NPR or only occasionally tunes in to mainstream news.
—Columnist Nate Jackson
Biden also goaded young people to vote by temporarily lowering gas prices through draining the strategic petroleum reserve, offering amnesty for marijuana offenses, and canceling half a trillion dollars of student loan debt. He told young women that they would die without unlimited abortions. And most of that mud stuck.
In contrast, Republicans wrongly assumed all voters, red and blue, sensibly cared most about spiking inflation, unaffordable food and fuel, an open border, and a disastrous foreign policy.
Americans do worry, but also demand concrete solutions that they often did not hear from even insightful critics of Biden’s ruinous agendas.
—Columnist Victor Davis Hanson
Somewhere out there, there’s an alternate universe where Republican primary electorates nominated clean-cut, articulate state legislators and state attorneys general who knew a lot about the issues and had some governing accomplishments to point to — you know, normal candidates — instead of daytime-talk-show hosts, football stars, and tech investors, based upon whoever proclaimed their absolute loyalty to Trump the loudest. I would love to see how that batch of candidates did. There’s a good chance that a bunch of normal GOP candidates would have performed considerably better. Normal works. Normal wins. Normal gets stuff done.
— Jim Geraghty
“The lesson thus far from the non-wave election: bold leadership, with a clear policy plan, matters. Conservatives, as I’ve said all year, needed a bolder plan, and much earlier.”
President of the Heritage Foundation Kevin Roberts
Democratic opposition to a flawed and impaired Biden running again in 2024 will recede. Republican loyalty to the unpredictable Trump could fade.
And both those realities will empower DeSantis.
—Columnist Victor Davis Hanson
There is a silver lining here for Republicans. Democrats, who should have been taught a lesson by voters, were saved by Republican incompetence and pusillanimity; that means they’ll keep doubling down. President Joe Biden is, barring actual incapacity, the prohibitive 2024 Democratic nominee. And the fundamentals will continue to move against Democrats as they pursue a woker and woker agenda.
This means Republicans will get another bite at the apple—but only if they get serious. The time for frivolity is over. The laws of political gravity apply. Nominate good, sober candidates capable of governing and earning the trust of Americans. Pick your culture war battles and hit them hard. Make it hard to vote for Democrats and easy to vote for you.
This isn’t tough stuff. But if Republican leadership is unwilling to pursue the obvious, the shipwreck of 2022 will be only the beginning.