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Yes, Republicans have a Trump Problem, But They Also Have a Policy Problem

As the final votes are being tallied, control of the US House of Representatives still hangs in the balance. Democrats have already netted one Senate seat, and several state legislatures and Republicans are left to figure out why they fared so poorly in the 2022 midterm elections despite high inflation, President Joe Biden's rather mediocre job approval rating, and such high expectations.

CNN: "President Biden’s first midterm performance for president is one of the best in modern history: Only in 1934 (FDR), 1962 (JFK), 2002 (Bush) did the president’s party not lose Senate seats and fewer than 10 House seats."

Much of the blame is being heaped on Donald Trump's shoulders because of the clown car of unqualified candidates he endorsed in the GOP primaries [Dr. Oz, Kari Lake, Don Bolduc, and Herschel "Chinese air" Walker, to name a few]. In some high-profile Senate and Gubernatorial races, candidate quality was certainly an issue for Republicans, but if that's all they take away from the election, they may miss important lessons.

Democrats fared much better than anyone expected because voters that identify as Independents broke their way this election cycle and that's generally unheard of in midterm elections when your party controls the White House.

MSNBC: "Independents, who historically go double digits away from the party that has the White House, also voted for Democrats."
Wall Street Journal: “Independents favored Democrats by 4 points nationally… and by a far more substantial 18 points in Pennsylvania, 28 points in Georgia and more than 30 points in Arizona…”

Many political scientists and pundits believe that independents, who are largely political moderates, were as incensed as Democrats with the Dobbs Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, but it's more than that. Once the Supreme Court issued its opinion, GOP legislators in red and purple states began formulating plans to ban abortion outright, often without exceptions. And in Washington, Republicans like Lindsey Graham openly discussed a national ban on the procedure that would impact women across the nation. It was a classic case of political overreach, too much, too fast, too soon.

Political Wire: "New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) told Julie Mason that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rick Scott (R-FL) cost the Republicans in the midterm elections with their respective comments on abortion and Social Security."

But, as Gov. Sununu alludes to in his comment, there were other factors that undermined the GOP on Tuesday. Republicans spent the entire election cycle ranting about inflation, but failed to lay out any real strategy to address the problem. And, to make matters worse, in the waning weeks of the election, when pressed on plans to address inflation, GOP Senators Rick Scott and Ron Johnson along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid could be necessary to reduce the budget deficit. Entitlement reform is certainly an important issue to debate in the coming years, but it has nothing to do with the current inflationary cycle caused by pandemic-related shortages and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There was absolutely no reason to suggest entitlement cuts right before the election.

And, there was an additional reason for the GOP's failure to make substantial gains in the election. About 27% of voters between the ages of 18-29 cast a ballot in the midterm election this year, the second-highest voter turnout among young voters in decades. And they preferred Democratic candidates by a 28-point margin according to polling data. It's too early to determine all the factors that drove young voters to the polls this year, but it's a good bet that Republican opposition to student debt relief and GOP overreach on abortion contributed to their decision. And, the GOP's current obsession with book bans, trans kids, and critical race theory just sounds like a lot of Boomer nonsense to most younger voters.

The Hill: “Exit polls show 72 percent of women ages 18-29 voted for Democrats in House races nationwide. In a pivotal Pennsylvania Senate race, 77 percent of young women voted for embattled Democrat John Fetterman, helping to secure his victory.”

There's one final lesson Republicans should draw from their poor showing last Tuesday; no one in America wants to hear one more word about 2020 election fraud. It's been thoroughly litigated and has as much validity as their kids pooping in litter boxes conspiracy theory. Enough, already.


By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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