Well, that sucked. And the hits keep on coming.
One of the favorite pastimes of the political class is finger-pointing – when a candidate bombs the fingers come out, mostly because the alternative would be to take some responsibility themselves. In the case of the 2022 election, there is plenty of blame to go around as there was a whole lot of feces hitting a very powerful fan. Pretty much everyone got hit with their share of splatter.
Trump supporters blame Mitch McConnell, and non-Trump supporters blame Trump. But where does most of the blame belong? Honestly, everywhere.
People didn’t show up where people needed to show up to flip races. Oh, they showed up elsewhere. You’ll hear about the “national popular vote,” the total number of votes cast for each party. Republicans received almost 52 million votes, Democrats only around 47 million. It’s an interesting stat that means absolutely nothing.
For the past few cycles, Democrats were roundly mocked by conservatives for citing how they’d won the NPV, as they should have been, so it can’t be a source of comfort now. Everyone knows where the votes are needed. If the candidates, campaigns, and party can’t work within that reality they deserve to lose.
So what the hell happened? A lot. And it wasn’t all just Donald Trump vs Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, but that was some of it and I will start there before I get to what I believe deserves the largest slice of responsibility for the losses.
First, Donald Trump.
Where to be with Trump? The former President is very influential…with an ever-smaller slice of the electorate.
Putting aside the absolute fortune he raised and the tiny amount he spent helping candidates, the problem for Trump is one of reality vs feelings. It feels like there is a lot of passion across the entire country for him because there is deep passion across the country for him. There’s a difference between the two. One is widespread and popular across the whole population, and the other is sincere and fervently held in every fiber of the being of a small percentage of the people. Unfortunately, each of these options can give the impression of the other. But make no mistake, it’s always one or the other, never both.
The love of Trump does not transfer, even when he tries to transfer it. Add in a massive ego and no sense of appropriateness and you have a small number of fans (relative to the population) coming out for a fun rally but fewer coming out to vote. No reason is given to voting for someone other than he wants them to win. There’s no discussion of policy, no “Vote for this person and they’ll pass” whatever piece of legislation.
And there’s no common thread either. Dr. Oz is not a conservative, JD Vance is. It’s like telling people to vote for Mitt Romney and Mike Lee simply because you said to, but mostly because they said nice things about you. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and people notice.
The McConnell/McCarthy wing of the party suffered from Monday Morning Quarterbacking, more than anything else. Did they not send some money where it could have done more good? Of course. Should they have poured more into some races and less in, say, Alaska? Yes, no question. Everyone knows what the right thing to do was once something is over – it all makes sense in the rearview mirror.
But you can’t live in the rearview mirror, you have to make decisions about what’s in the windshield. It’d be nice if they had unlimited money. Since they don’t, choices have to be made and no one makes the right decision all the time about the future, it’s simply impossible. But they made their choices and have to face the consequences.
That being said, the real problem for Republicans was Lindsey Graham.
The senior Senator from South Carolina, for reasons known only to him, decided to introduce a nationwide 15-week abortion ban in September. Think what you will of the concept, it was a stupid strategic move.
When the Dobbs decision leaked, Democrats went nuts. When it was released 2 months later, liberals were energized and took to the streets. A month later that energy had petered out. Gas prices made it too expensive to drive to the protests and inflation made even packing a lunch for it became cost prohibitive. The anger was redirected. Then Lindsey Graham happened.
After decades of conservatives saying if Roe v Wade were overturned all it would mean is the issue would return to the states, Graham decided to take a dump on that concept and go against federalism, reenergizing those liberals who’d moved on.
Add to that the fact that Democrats were smart enough to put referendums on abortion on the ballot in key states, and Graham excited Democrats again on the issue. What seem an unnecessary concept had a new sense of urgency. They showed up where Democrats needed them to. (See the Michigan Governor’s and various House races and the referendum that overwhelmingly passed in support of abortion.)
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but a big chunk of it belongs on the head of Lindsey Graham. Whatever you think about abortion – if you’re strictly pro-life or just thought Roe was decided law – Graham’s bill wasn’t ever going anywhere in this Congress (or the new one, thanks to the GOP’s failure). Even if it did pass, Biden would veto it. If Lindsey was so compelled to introduce it, he could have done so now, not before the vote. Then every Republican wouldn’t have had to answer for it and the motivation it caused among Democrats never would have happened.
Great work, Lindsey. But maybe next time stick to trying to start wars overseas or at least wait until after people vote when pushing something that isn’t going anywhere.
Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses, and host of the weekly “Week in F*cking Review” podcast where the news is spoken about the way it deserves to be. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.