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The red wave we expected is, as of this writing, a red splash at best, and we need to rigorously evaluate exactly why the ferocious grizzly bear we expected turned out to be a gentle little bunny. 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 the thing – Biden is not only terrible, but most people think he is terrible. Yet even with that, plus the historical trends, and a powerful issue set, we did…okay at best, and lots of us are already howling. The problem is not that we did not advance – we probably will in the House at least, and as Warren Buffet once observed, you never go broke making a profit. The Senate…hmmmm. Our problem is that we set huge expectations, and they simply did not pan out.
How realistic were our expectations? In hindsight, which is the clearest and most accurate sight, not particularly realistic at all. People were talking about 50 House seats. It looks like maybe a dozen or so. The fact is that we had won a lot of the red seats in prior cycles and consolidated them – we were reaching for blue seats in 2022. To the extent we failed to hit our goal, it was a pretty hard goal. We were just not realistic about that.
This cycle's Senate map was always tough. The polls indicated they were close pretty much the whole time. Was polling inaccurate? Yes, where it gave us false hope. For example, Bolduc in New Hampshire was supposed to be close. It was…not close. This is a teachable moment, like getting hit by a car teaches you to look both ways. We need to ask ourselves what we can learn because when life gives you lemons, you must juice them and mix that juice with some sort of clear liquor, and after you sleep it off, you need to think about what went wrong.
We mentioned expectations. We need to manage them in the future. It was great to think there was a red tsunami coming, but that left us primed for disappointment. And we were.
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 liberal no matter how poor and miserable that makes them and everyone else.
They say candidates matter, of course, but how much do they really? The fact is that Pennsylvania elected a bizarre ogre. Here's the thing – party allegiance is enduring in ways it never used to be. That Fetterman won is an indicator. You vote for that freak of nature only if you are purely partisan. I do not begrudge them that. It's about getting the Senate seat. But appeals pointing out the fact that Fetterman is a mutant did not get it done. Sure he's a mutant, they thought, but he's our mutant.
There will be a lot of talk about "bad candidates," which is usually started by people whose chosen candidate lost in the primary. But there is a lot of evidence that voters will vote for anybody on their side. "Good" candidates lost, too; "bad" candidates won.
There will be talk of money, and who supported which candidate sufficiently. Mitch McConnell wanted to be the Senate Majority Leader, and he might not have gotten it done. That's on him. You can argue he should not have stiffed this candidate or wasted money on that one, but it does not really matter. He had one job, and it's not clear as of this writing that he did it. This doesn't excuse other people who had a part in this clusterfark, but his job is to get the majority, and it's not clear he has.
And, of course, there's Trump. My DMs and texts are exploding with people who are all done with him, people who do not want him to run in 2024 and think he's a liability. They are quick to blame him for much of this. I think that's justified, but I think it's also too easy. If we toss him out, that doesn't solve the GOP's structural problems. A lot of voters will never vote for us. We have to fix that.
Trump certainly should own the losses of the candidates he pushed in the primaries – like Dr. Oz – just as he takes the accolades for the ones who won. He was planning to announce next week, according to many people of varying reliability. That would be a huge mistake; Republicans have a bad taste in their mouths right now, and the last thing they want to do is hear from him. Republicans are going to want to win more than ever in 2024, and the big knock on Trump is that he won't. After the results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin in 2022 (not to mention 2020), how does he argue that he can win these states? What's the plan? More and meaner nicknames? There's no sugarcoating it – Trump was a huge loser yesterday.
What went right? The big winning theme was competence. That was really the heart of Ron DeSantis's appeal in leveling the Democrats in Florida. He's a good governor. So are Brian Kemp, Glenn Youngkin, and Greg Abbott. They get the job done – not perfectly, of course, but well enough that both normal people and some Democrats will vote for them. No drama, no trauma. Look for Ron DeSantis to wait to announce until long after Trump does, keeping his powder dry and racking up points for doing his job competently even as Trump exhausts the party with his antics, which are kicking up again in the form of fake announcements or picking dumb fights.
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.
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