The night was disappointing for Republicans. However, they will likely still take the House, albeit by perhaps single digits, which was the major goal. The Senate, while a Republican victory is still possible, remains elusive.
A lot of pundits and prognosticators got it wrong, me included. I handicapped 25 races, got 4 wrong. A 90 percent win rate isn’t bad, but I got all of Arizona and the Senate race in Pennsylvania wrong. Ouch.
The Senate is still out, but I said Republicans would win the House at 243. Likely to be 225. Oh joy.
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What are the takeaways from Tuesday night?
1. Bad casting- The Republicans must stop nominating populist candidates in purple and blue states. Granted, a lot of it was due to Dem interference in GOP primaries. But the Dems knew they wanted to run against populists for obvious reasons. They got their wish in New Hampshire, Maryland, and Arizona and they won. Do the math. Time to wrest party control from the Pitchfork Brigades.
2. Trump can’t win nationwide in 2024. DeSantis can- Florida and Arizona were experiments last night and they went horribly wrong for Trump. His people got clobbered in Arizona and the man he trashed the week before the election went on to a resounding victory in the Sunshine State. DeSantis changed Florida politics, taking counties Republicans haven’t won in years. And Georgia and the big wins of Kemp and Raffensperger are a serious rebuke to Trump. True, many Trump-backed candidates won. But he lost several marquee races in swing states. The Republicans can’t win that way. The Party needs to be rid of Donald Trump, but keep most aspects of his administration. DeSantis can do that without the Trump baggage. So could Tim Scott.
3. Predominately negative campaigning doesn’t work- The reason Ronald Reagan was an election winner is because he wryly went after the opposition, but also offered positive alternatives to Dem policies. This year’s Republican campaign message needed to be evened out with more optimism and aggressive plans for what the GOP would do with congressional majorities. Too dour is not smart politics.
4. A new star in the House- Republican Derrick Van Orden won the Wisconsin 3rd and goes to DC as a freshman in January. Given the Republican House majority will be low, every vote will count. Van Orden should emerge as a major player in the freshman class and a GOP message star.
5. If only the Supremes had waited until December for the Hobbs decision- While Dems did not flock to the polls on the abortion issue alone, it had an impact. This was especially true in close races.
So the major Republican goal should be met, control of the House. The Senate probably stays status quo. It was a good Republican night that could have been a lot better. Let’s learn from this year and act accordingly in 2024.