Victor Davis Hanson
Who or what was responsible for the Republican nationwide collapse in the midterms? After all, pundits, politicos, and pollsters all predicted a “red tsunami.”
Moreover, the average loss of any president in his first midterm is 25 House seats. And when his approval sinks to or below 43 percent—in the fashion of Joe Biden—the loss, on average, expands to over 40 seats.
Barack Obama in 2010 lost 63 seats. Is Biden, therefore, more charismatic or more energetic than Obama? Was his agenda more successful and popular?
Given such high Republican expectations, the blame game for the loss is as strident and confusing as was the election itself.
Here are some of the most common targets of criticism.
Donald Trump is being blamed on various counts. Before the midterms, he strangely attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And he loudly hinted that he would run again.
Those histrionics supposedly took attention away from Republican candidates. Trump turned off some DeSantis fans from Trump-endorsed candidates, and energized Trump-hating left-wingers to go out and vote to stop the momentum for a second Trump presidency.
Yet the idea that Trump was erratic or reckless was not really new and surprised no one on either side of the political divide.
Two, Trump promoted many losing candidates, often on the narrow basis of whether they had accepted his charges of a rigged 2020 election. His critics countered that while his MAGA candidates won primaries in states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, they had little chance of going on to win general elections.
Yet, some important Trump-supported candidates did win, including J. D. Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina. At the same time, many centrists and moderates, such as Joe O’Dea in Colorado, lost.
Three, why did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the fossilized Republican hierarchy short candidate Blake Masters in Arizona, while pouring money into an internecine fight in Alaska on the side of the less conservative Republican candidate?
Nevertheless, Republican House and Senate coffers probably gave MAGA candidates more than Donald Trump did from his $100 million-plus campaign stash.
Four, are we not in the midst of the greatest political revolution of our age? Election Day voting in most states has been reduced to about 30 percent of the electorate. What replaced it is an utter mess of early balloting, absentee balloting, mail-in balloting, ranked voting, run-off voting, and endless counting.
The Left saw winning advantages with these radical changes, many made under the pretext of the COVID-19 lockdowns. And it has mastered them to such a degree that most Republicans with small leads at the end of Election Day now expect to lose over the subsequent days and weeks.
Yet, the Republicans already got burned in 2020 by these ongoing radical changes. Did they not have ample time to avoid their recurrence?
Five, this time the silent and undercounted voters were not disillusioned MAGA supporters who hung up on pollsters’ calls.
Instead, pollsters missed the 70 percent of those under 30, along with single women, who voted straight Democratic tickets.
Mannered Republicans may have scoffed at how Biden and the Left demagogued the abortion issue, or slandered Republicans as semi-fascists, and un-American insurrectionists. They shrugged at Biden’s hokey efforts at buying off young voters with amnesties for marijuana convictions and student loans or offering slightly cheaper gas by draining the strategic petroleum reserves.
But all those low-minded strategies resulted in high left-wing enthusiasm and turnout.
Six, usually reliable conservative pollsters forecast a huge Republican victory. Apparently, they oversampled conservative voters, reasoning that left-leaning pollsters usually undersampled them.
They were not just wrong, but way off. And the ensuing hubris of certain victory led to nemesis as Republicans let up the last few weeks. Thousands of conservative voters may have passed at the chance to go to the polls deeming their votes superfluous.
Seven, the Left smeared conservatives as democracy destroyers and violent insurrectionists. So, when the Republicans offered nonstop negative appraisals of Biden’s failed policies without commensurate alternative positive agendas, they unknowingly fed into the Democrats’ false narrative of cranky nihilists.
Could not Republicans have offered an upbeat and coherent contract with America that offered uplifting, concrete solutions to each of Biden’s messes?
Finally, Democrats are now the party of the very rich. The neo-socialist Democratic Party has more billionaire capitalists than do the free-market Republicans.
In almost every important Senate or gubernatorial race, the Democratic candidate was the far better funded of the two. In some races, like the New Hampshire U.S. Senate election, the Democrat outspent his Republican counterpart by a staggering 17-1.
Has the Republican Party of capitalism forgotten the power and role of money in politics? Why is it once again so easily outfunded, outspent, and outsmarted?
All these writs variously explain the otherwise inexplicable dismal Republican performance.
Yet there is a common denominator for Republicans to all these multifaceted problems: either different leaders or different strategies—or both—are necessary to ensure different results.
33 thoughts on “Let The Blame Games Begin?”
Republicans need to start giving voters what we are FOR, instead of the relentless message of what we’re against.
It’s not a blame “game”, as if we make it up as we go. And yes, it’s obvious, two reasons, Mitch McConnell and cheating.
This article is so on spot it hurts. But still the feckless Republican congressmen re-elect the rhinos and non-Trumpers McCarthy and McConnel to be their leaders. Their stupidity is staggering. Once again, they have fallen into the left’s trap.
The amount of money spent on by the Democrats is astonishing. In New Hampshire, incumbent Maggie Hassan received 332,667 votes, defeating General Buldoc who received 277,332 votes. Hassan spent over $32 million dollars to claim that victory. That works out to $96 per vote. This is level of spending per vote has been repeated over and over in various states in the last two years. This amount of money allows the Democrats to swamp the commercial media airwaves with a narrative that bears little resemblance to reality. But far too many Americans now mistake those visual and verbal messages as reality. And the messages are everywhere. In Washington State, the Murray campaign placed ads in the WSJ’s podcasts over the last week. And Democrat ads for Congressional campaigns were placed in selected YouTube channels that were apparently of interest of voters in specific Districts. Any voter who used electronic media in pretty much any form were treated to endless repetitions of nonsense. One might expect the Law of Diminishing Returns to come into play, and the last $50/voter spent this way might indeed be wasted on the targetted audience. However it does guarantee a certain sympathy and “respect” from media that “earns” these exhorbitant fees which provides a much more long lasting benefit to the Democrats.
I think you missed the fact that many decades of public education is now bearing much fruit as the education machine is churning out many Leftist voters. This could take more than one generation to fix. We better start honing in on this problem. School choice should be a major item now with republicans. And we must dismantle or otherwise defund the dept of education. The red state governors need to quickly form a coalition to work on public education.
Also, we should be looking into the future to the evolution of two Americas.
I think the time has come for 2 Americas. Both sides are so far apart right now, and there is no end in sight. The Midwest and the South as one country, and the West and Northeast as another. I already know where I would rather live…
There is only one logical reason for such meager House and Senate Repub gains and that clearly is that the Dems cheat/swindle the final counts, in key swing states and in those w/ small blue dot metro heavy populatedd areas w/i predominant (90%) red geography (eg MN, WI, MI, PA), where there are the most mail-in ballots bagged, ballot harvesting.bribing are allowed and count stoppages + delays are now common place, even quite predictable, since Nov 2020 – plain to see! …but if you’re a paid pundit and or commentator, you see it or write about it at great peril to your livelihood and career in our already very Orwellian/Jacobin/A Randian controlled country!
Can’t agree more.
“Finally, Democrats are now the party of the very rich. ”
I don’t know if that is true, but Joel Kotkin often refers to the differences between the intangible economy (software, law, finance, media, academia, and the like) vs the tangible economy (ag, manufacturing, resource extraction, logistics, construction, etc). The Democrats are clearly the party of the intangible economy, though Peter Thiel is a notable exception. The Republicans are still the part of the very rich in the tangible economy. Elon Musk crosses both worlds but seems to have shifted right politically. The hostility many Democrats feel for the tangible industries seems to have aligned blue collar workers with their bosses in the simple interests of mutual survival.
The pollsters were wrong, but the current environment appears to be akin to looking at a tornado in process and predicting just where the flying cow will land. But there are bright signs for conservatives. They do control the House so the worst of the Democrats’ goals will be thwarted. Should Walker win the runoff in GA you’ll still have a 50/50 Senate with Harris as the tiebreaker but with Manchin still in place to apply some brakes. Walker is a terrible candidate, but as with a parliamentary system, he’ll provide votes that are helpful.
And, a majority of people voted R with increased support from minorities. It ain’t all gloom unless Trump winds up running as a 3rd party and throws 2024 to Gavin Newsom.
Ironically the Democrats increased their fortunes by degrees that would not have been possible without the “Trump Economy.” Big Tech is in a bubble that’s about to burst!
All of your points here are good, but the most important – new leadership and new strategies is unexamined. As I read this the Republicans in the Senate just elected Mitch McConnell to be their leader – again. He actively worked as hard as he could to remain the MINORITY LEADER and not become the MAJORITY LEADER because he more than anyone kept the Senate from a Republican 51. Why because he wanted to remain LEADER for what reason God only knows since he’s not leading anything and Biden and his merry band of misfits will keep appointing lunatics to various posts in the government – most notably the bench. Yes, the make up of the current Supreme Court is largely due to a collaboration between Trump and McConnell and he did save us from Merrick Garland. For now. With the Senate still in Democrat hands what happens if God forbid one of the conservative Justices retires, becomes ill or God forbid passes away? Here comes Merrick. Again. And how do you keep him or any other embittered crazy person off the Supreme Court. Until the outrage of the 2020 and now 2022 elections are fixed; unless we stop counting for weeks until the Democrats can make up phony ballots; until the Republicans develop a strategy for 1) preventing these looney voting ideas – ranked choice, 50%, etc. or 2) learn to figure out how to play this game the Republic is doomed. There was no Republican collapse. They overhyped themselves and forgot that bribery works.
Salient points were made but I disagree with some such as high voter turnout by young people was a factor because Biden swayed voters by appealing to pop culture issues. That isn’t usually effective when you’re already the party in power and everything seems to always be going your way. I think the Democrats have captured the electoral process from beginning to end, and has introduced new twists like voter harvesting, which is the practice of recruiting a certain demographic to move to swing states in order to vote in their elections. This happened in both Texas and Arizona in this election. Undoubtedly, these voters were well-compensated/funded for their trouble which raises legal issues as well as ethical ones. And it doesn’t help when the leadership of your own party is actively working against some candidates so they will fail. Not to mention the uphill battle Republicans/conservatives always face trying to get their message out via the mainstream media to counteract Democrat/Leftist “disinformation”.
You said it, without saying it. Mitch McConnell is the problem, and also the best argument for term limits.
The rules of the game has changed under week republican leadership. We have to face it, the Dems played a better game, using those new rules to win, twice! The moment Hillary lost in 2016, the Dems made damn sure it wouldn’t happen again and with COVID striking when it did, it created the perfect storm. Unless our leadership on the right wakes up, it will be more of the same in 2024. Victor your assessment is right on.
Smart people on this thread.
Recall that team Red already won 14 seats in 2020, unheard of when the top loses the election. Thus, fewer seats to pick off. This may have stifled the heavily forecasted tsunami. Maybe.
Nobody pays attention to Joe anymore. He’s just kind of there. Like a babbling idiot.
T hade nothing to do with it. When all the lefties and rinos are singing off the same sheet of music, at fortissimo levels, you know they are just making stuff up. Hogwash. It would have been odd if T had said nothing about Ron. As Gene Kelly once sang, “Gotta Dance!”
Mitch did not support ppl who would not support him, personally. Simple.
AZ was rigged, so no amount of $ would have helped. When the counting stops, the fix is in. We all know that, right? Same w/NV.
We are still bringing a knife to a gun fight. Must master early voting rules. It is what we have to deal with, like it or not.
Young votes were likely due to ballot harvesting. Do you really think that they are engaged?
Apparently, low-minded strategies work. Is anybody listening? PT Barnum, once again.
Biggest issue, by far? 99% of academia and 95% of media is almost impossible to beat. Mass hypnosis is quite effective. Just keep repeating — “Trump is a racist!”
Hard to get to enthusiastic for winning (E.g. the Senate) when a large percentage of the Elites in the Republican Caucus show exactly the same disdain for “working class” citizenry as their counterparts across the aisle. Leadership appears to both feed this attitude and promote it.
An estimated 180 million Americans are being hammered by inflation. The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and tightening money supply in order to bring inflation down. A large percentage of the Republican Caucus joins hands (with leadership support) with the Democrats, in shoveling helicopter money out, that will make the inflation problem significantly worse.
Major cities are erupting with violent crime and disorder. Yet our Republican Caucus and leadership, focus, with their counterparts across the aisle, on gun control aimed at the law abiding citizen.
The only real difference between the two parties is velocity. One will have us hit the wall sooner and at greater speed. The final destination however, is not in question. Nor is the shared arrogant disdain for the “masses.”
Finally, a functioning democracy requires an informed citizenry. This appears to be a vanishing breed, thanks to a variety of initiatives from our expert betters.
Love how these guys attack Trump. This man (in spite of his abrasiveness) has done more for this country than any post WW II president. I can think of three different accomplishments that should have won him a Noble Peace Prize, but won’t because of his poor likability.
1. The decimation of Isis in a matter of a couple of months. His predecessor got a Noble price on what they thought he would do for world peace, not any accomplishment. Isis was ignored under his watch and consequently we have a 1,000,000 refugees in Europe and countless 10’s of thousands of people in their early graves.
2. The Abraham Accords. If he stayed on as president we would likely finally have peace in the Middle-East and the PLO would be more or less irrelevant .
3. How about energy independence in the U.S.? In time I imagine the benefits of this feat both directly and indirectly would have flowed to our allies, making all safer. We would no longer have to look to our enemies for our energy needs.
The weakling Jimmy got such a once prestigious award for bringing Sadat and Begin together. Empty suit Obama got it on pure spec as to what his charm would do in making a peaceful world. But don’t hold your breath that Trump will ever get the Nobel Prize.
This man deserves and we desperately need him in the #1 seat for four more years. Shame on you Pence , Pompeo, and all the others for trying to diminish him now. He need only to run on his accomplishments, and nothing else to win in 2024.
Well said and totally agree!
The current administration had vastly superior funding and election method strategy.
The hope is in voices such as yours, election reform, and Ron DeSantis.
The Republicans have the House and Pelosi has been taken out. Not a bad day’s work.
I’ll take what we can get.
Comer and Jordan are loudly bursting out of the barn with loaded guns and much bravado.
We will see if they are shooting live rounds or just blanks.
The dems, DOJ and lying media have a way of disappearing such enthusiasms.
Hi Jim, the Hunter Biden laptop can no longer be “debunked” along with numerous whistleblowers and suspicious banking activity reports. I applaud those Congressmen and am sad to say I fear for their safety. Will they be raided, shackled and paraded in their underwear in front of their families and CNN on some absurd “secret” DOJ/FBI charge next?
“Strangely”? Nothing could have been more predictable.
Desantis has as much grit as Trump and more grace and discipline. He is demonstrating it now. Desantis has two years to use those qualities to turn Trump supporters to him.
Can anyone make a case for who could effectively replace Mitch? He’s an unsavory character, but a genius at senatorial procedure (which is Byzantine!). He’s been doing what he’s supposed to do: use mastery of Senate procedure to enact Republican priorities and hinder Democratic ones. He is NOT supposed to be the face of the Party or its master strategist. Traditionally, that job should be split by the President/former President and the actual Party machinery. Mitch is going to die someday, and replacing him is a serious conversation for both his supporters and detractors. I’m drawing a blank when it comes to someone who could effectively replace him as LEADER OF THE SENATE REPUBLICANS, not de facto Party Head.
P.S.- If you say “J.D. Vance,” I am permanently subtracting one imaginary cookie from your stash.
Decades ago, fresh out of school and working at my first job, I was struggling to figure out why a device I was working on had stopped working. I asked my long-timer boss if he had any suggestions. He said “the last thing you did broke it”. I found his advice unhelpful – there was absolutely no way what I had last done could have caused the problem I was having. You can see what’s coming – he was right, of course, I was just too deep in the weeds to see it.
The last thing the country did election-wise was no-excuse mail-in voting, where postage-prepaid ballots are mailed out to all registered voters, and elections stretch out for weeks. As they say, well, there’s your problem.
Many people, I would say even a majority of people, shouldn’t be voting. The interesting thing to me is that these people know they shouldn’t be voting, and the slightest inconvenience will dissuade them. I live in a state that has had 100% mail-in voting for many years. At first, the voter was required to use their own stamp, or make their way to one of the ballot drop-boxes. Democrats hollered about the unfairness of this, of course, and they changed the ballots to pre-paid. This increased turnout significantly. What does that tell you? Can we trust people who aren’t motivated enough to “waste” a postage stamp to put forth even a minimal effort to educate themselves on the issues?
Oh, yeah, one more thing – R’s don’t win elections in my state, and haven’t for years.
Mr Hathaway, of course you are right.
In order to harvest votes you need a sufficient and consistent crop.
Fits right in with VDH’s farmer narrative.
This crop, however, does not need water, cultivation, fertilizer, bug spray, or crop-dusting biplanes.
It just requires a mailbox and an organized group of “farmers” to bring the crop in and deliver it to the nearest dropbox.
Much easier than trying to make a living by growing raisins. More profitable, too.
As the bloodred tsunami roared toward the continent,, the mainland rose up 1000 feet toward heaven. With the wave now spent , the land returned to middle earth. Astonished witnesses claimed it was an illusion, a mis-franchisement, a meta-hallucination. The polis belched, reaching for a fork.
Here’s your mind back. Thanks for the loan.
VDH- you are one of my most favorite people in this country but this time I am concerned that you are concerned about the cancel culture. I knew little about
Donald Trump in 2015 but he won me over. There are many words to describe him that are the opposite of who I am but to me he became the best President since Lincoln. The left hit him with every horrid thing they could dream up for almost 8 years and he did a wonderful job. You seemed to agree when you wrote about the country. I am a fan of Ron De Santis because my husband and are snow birds in Florida during the winter but he is very young and has plenty to
to do for Florida in the next two years and more. You mentioned election deniers but the opposition party has so much more money and so many tricks and tricksters that I am not sure Republicans have and chance to win in the future unless something can be done. I am fearful for 2024 but if it is still possible for me to vote I will vote for Donald Trump.
So we let single women who want abortions rule our elections now? What does that say about our society? The media has destroyed the morals of our youth with TV Shows, Movies and Music that is inappropriate for children. Now they put it into public schools. It’s an uphill battle for parents.
The Supreme Court should have waited until after the midterms.
‘So we let single women who want abortions rule our elections now? What does that say about our society?’ It says that Democrats have learned that they can manipulate most women through fear. It is deceitful, but it works. And that fear mongering to women can win elections. Republicans could have produced ads that showed homeless drug camps, the open border and the destruction of Americans retirement savings. Ronna McDaniel’s should be the first head to fall. We need much better marketing. And a host of solutions to the rampant ballot fraud. Agree that the S.C. should have waited on the abortion ruling. But some activist leaking at the S.C. who should be prosecuted is still not even identified.
Senator Marco Rubio is a great candidate. He is very passionate and YOUNG! He has great charisma and has my vote if he runs in 2024.
I am 65 years old, voted for Trump every time, white, Chicago area, third generation from Polish immigrant, factory and steel mill workers.
Senator Rubio won his midterm race by a very wide margin. He is a great speaker. Ron Desantis may be “too white” to win.
President Trump deserves to live the rest of his life without being under undue scrutiny and allow the young members of the party to carry on his genius ideas and America First Agenda.