Midterms a flop for GOP except for DeSantis Florida win

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
Archive |

Republicans failed to capitalize on historic trends and President Biden’s historically low approval ratings in the 2022 midterm elections. The GOP fell short in its attempt to regain control of the Senate. And while Republicans are inching toward victory in the lower chamber, the fate of the House remains unsettled. Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten says the midterms overall were a flop for the GOP, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ resounding win was a notable silver lining that should give the party reason to be hopeful.

Florida’s gain may have been New York’s loss given the exodus of Empire State voters who may have cost gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin his race, but the fact of the matter is that the GOP had a historically good night in a historically bad state, including flipping congressional seats likely to clinch the House majority for Republicans.

Other incumbents towards the top of tickets tended to hold serve. Down-ballot, Republicans prevailed in many school board races — which long-term is critical. And then there’s the pending gubernatorial and Senate races. It’s an abomination that as we record this, days after the election, we still don’t have final results in Arizona and Nevada. For virtually the entirety of our history we voted in-person, with ID, on election day and got results that night. 

That we live in the most technologically advanced civilization in world history and now we won’t get results on election night invites all manner of questions about the integrity of these elections – on top of machine breakdowns and other glitches in-person voters faced on the one day errors couldn’t happen, from Maricopa County, Arizona, and everywhere in between. Florida’s population is two times the size of Arizona and Nevada, and delivered results on election night. The Sunshine State of Florida has a population two times the size of Sun Belt states Arizona and Nevada combined. Florida’s results were in on election night, yet we’re still waiting on the Southwest. 

This is purely a function of the less secure, less safe processes embraced in these states, which Florida rejected. The further we get from voting in-person on Election Day, and the longer it takes to get results, the more it will sap the confidence among millions of Americans, in the process of voting, and therefore the results, and with it, our republican system.

By most measures election night was a big disappointment for Republicans given the predicted Red Wave. The conditions certainly seemed ripe for one. We have a historically unpopular president.

After inflicting a world of pain on Americans with crippling lockdowns, and other Covidian tyranny, Democrats stoked a massive inflationary spiral the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 40 years. They unleashed violence on America’s streets with anti-cop and effectively pro-criminal policies like cash-free bail. They opened our borders to drugs and crime. They turned America from energy independent to energy dependent. They oversaw the utterly disastrous Afghanistan pullout. And they supported a whole host of Woke, radically leftist policies out of touch with everyday Americans and pitted us against each other by policy and rhetoric. We were made poorer, less secure, and more divided, and it shows in the utter dissatisfaction we saw in polling with the president, and therefore presumably his party. So why didn’t Republicans capitalize – particularly in midterms that are usually terrible for a president’s party? Let’s start with what Democrats did. Knowing that their progressive agenda was a loser, they defined Republicans as fascists and regressive theocrats.

They said our democracy was under threat by MAGA terrorists, and that women were being sent to the stone age because abortion was now a matter for the people to take up in their states; they got in-kind contributions from every cultural institution. To drive turnout, they pushed related ballot referenda with tens of millions of dollars. They perhaps did better in redistricting than was assumed— to the point that Republicans were up by several million votes nationally as we cut this video, yet the House majority still was not clearly held by them. And Democrats worked doggedly to make temporary, emergency voting measures implemented during COVID permanent. 

They built a machine, first controlling voting processes and infrastructure, then exploiting it with myriad outside groups to get out the vote and drive victories. Last cycle they used hundreds of millions in private Zuckerbucks to fund public election offices who then hired often left-leaning nonprofits to drive mass mail-in voting, and even manage the elections. This one, the Biden administration itself ordered every federal agency to become a vote registration/participation center — in concert with third-party groups like those funded by Zuckerbucks last time. So Democrats fear-mongered about Republicans to stoke their base, developed the system, and worked it to maximize their odds.

Now let’s talk about what Republicans didn’t do:

They didn’t articulate a compelling vision and nationalize the election. Leadership stymied candidates in critical contests by withholding millions of dollars.

Republicans lacked in a GOTV infrastructure to match Democrats’ – failing to invest billions like Democrats have over the years in building an election machine. They didn’t have an effective counter-messaging push to the Democrats’ abortion messaging. Many have lamented Republican candidate quality, but consider that John Fetterman could barely form a sentence, and he won on election night. If the other side can put up anyone, and you need a “perfect” candidate to have a fighting chance, something’s seriously wrong. It underscores something: Democrats control every influential institution. They arguably control the election infrastructure. They have an infinitely better ground game. 

They have a Republican Party that in large part — as reflected in how it conducted this race — seems to be controlled opposition. Given all that, it’s maybe remarkable we’re still about a 50-50 country. And there were some silver linings for Republicans. The most resounding win of course was in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis turned a longtime swing state bright red. He showed that a conservative message with the right messenger who gets things done can be a political powerhouse.

Florida’s gain may have been New York’s loss given the exodus of Empire State voters who may have cost gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin his race, but the fact of the matter is that the GOP had a historically good night in a historically bad state, including flipping Congressional seats likely to clinch the House majority for Republicans.

Other incumbents towards the top of tickets tended to hold serve. Down-ballot, Republicans prevailed in many school board races — which long-term is critical. And then there’s the pending gubernatorial and senate races. It’s an abomination that as we record this, days after the election, we still don’t have final results in Arizona and Nevada. For virtually the entirety of our history we voted in-person, with ID, on election day, and got results that night. 

That we live in the most technologically advanced civilization in world history and now we won’t get results on election night invites all manner of questions about the integrity of these elections – on top of machine breakdowns and other glitches in-person voters faced on the one day errors couldn’t happen, from Maricopa County, Arizona,  and everywhere in-between. Florida’s population is two times the size of Arizona & Nevada & delivered results on Election night. The Sunshine State of Florida has a population two times the size of Sun Belt states Arizona and Nevada combined. Florida’s results were in on election night, yet we’re still waiting on the Southwest. 

This is purely a function of the less secure, less safe processes embraced in these states, which Florida rejected. The further we get from voting in-person on election day, and the longer it takes to get results, the more it will sap the confidence among millions of Americans, in the process of voting, and therefore the results, and with it, our republican system.


Get unbiased straight facts, context, and perspective!