Republicans still grappling with why ‘Red Wave’ was a barely a trickle

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


The fall-out from the 2022 midterm looks to continue well into the New Year for conservatives, who are still trying to find a primary reason why Republicans failed to sweep into greater power.

As of today, perhaps better stated “for now,” power players in the Republican Party have narrowed the problem to three factors: split-ticket voting, unfavorable polling with young women, and the fielding of weak candidates.

Likely, the last two items informed the first. A combination of weak candidates and a message that failed to resonate with young women led to a situation in which voters went with Republicans in some, but not all, elections within individual states.

“Ticket-splitting was everywhere,” GOP chair Ronna McDaniel told the Washington Examiner. “We won eight races statewide in Georgia, but then Warnock wins the runoff. Ron Johnson wins in Wisconsin, but Evers holds the governorship. It’s not one size fits all.”

In reality, a split state is in keeping with American historical traditions. Outside of the American South from Reconstruction through the 1960s, few states have ever voted top-to-bottom, width-and-breadth for a single party for any sustained length of time.

Both California and New York are home to numerous Republican-held districts and even Mississippi and Alabama have their Democratic strongholds.

The key, then, becomes the candidates who represent a given party in a given area and the message they deliver to prospective voters, a fact Republicans have begun to hammer home in the wake of Herschel Walker’s loss to Raphael Warnock in the Georgia senate runoff.

Much like the fallout from Mehmet Oz’s loss to John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Republicans have emerged to blame former President Donald Trump for having boosted the primary prospects of a political newcomer who ultimately proved incapable of defeating his opponent.

“We all remember in 2016, he said, if he got elected, there was going to be so much winning and winning and winning and winning, they’d get sick of winning,” Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” program. “None of us knew at the time he was actually talking about the Democrats.”

Christie later added, “Herschel Walker is his creation. And so he’s got to own the fact that Herschel Walker so vastly underperformed.”

It is important to remember that Christie is not exactly a neutral observer. He ran against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016 and could be mulling another run at the White House in 2024.

Still, the former New Jersey governor spoke to a political fact of life. When a candidate fails to win office, one must assess if the failure was with the candidate, the message, or both.

Democrats seem to think national messaging was the key factor in their success, if gaining a seat in the Senate and losing the House counts as success.

According to Global Strategy Group, a Democratic research firm, young people — specifically, young women — swayed races in favor of the left. Women ages 18-29 voted Democrat 2-to-1.

McDaniel attributed much of this swing to the matter of abortion.

“We’ve got to get conversant on that,” McDaniel told the Examiner. “It was probably a bigger factor than a lot of people thought. We can’t just do an ostrich method and pretend that it doesn’t exist when Democrats are spending $30 million on that message. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, that was a huge issue.”

But this puts Republicans in a tough spot. The bulk of conservatives are pro-life, but key districts and races occur in areas more amenable to abortion.

The real discussion going forward for Republicans is likely to become less about why a red wave failed to materialize and more about how to field electable candidates who won’t also turn off the national conservative voting base and/or prove counterproductive to the GOP agenda once they are sworn in.