With the exception of Florida and New York, the 2022 midterms were a disaster for Republicans. They managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in an electoral environment that gave every conceivable advantage to the Republican Party. But more accurately, a specific type of Republican snatched that defeat.
It wasn’t a red wave, but it wasn’t a blue wave either. There were shades of watching Missouri and Auburn play each other in college football. One team can’t figure out how to run an offense, while the other drops a fumble before going in for a score. You’re left wondering if this is a sport or a marathon of masochism.
The Florida tsunami.
The only departure from this trend was Republican rockstar Ron DeSantis, who obliterated Charlie Crist and Florida Democrats by nearly twenty points. DeSantis’s governorship has turned Florida from a competitive swing state into a Republican stronghold, decimating the Democratic Party.
And it’s Ron DeSantis that national Republicans need — they need that DeSantis Florida tsunami to crash over the entire country. Because right now, Republicans with Trump endorsements couldn’t translate 40-year highs in inflation, a weakening economy, and angry voters into election results.
Nate Silver noted afterward that candidate quality was crucial for understanding the 2022 midterms. High-quality candidates won, or in the case of Ron DeSantis, won with landslides. The number one task of Republicans moving into 2024, as we await to see who controls Congress for the next two years, is recruiting the best candidates.
Democratic meddling cost Republicans.
Democrats understood this aspect well. The Democratic Party poured $44 million into Republican primaries to elevate Trump acolytes that few liked. That strategy, while cynical and hypocritical, paid dividends on election night. Every Republican candidate that Democrats supported lost on election day. Let me repeat: every single Trump-Republican that got Democratic support lost.
The key to understanding the Democratic strategy was simple. The crazier the candidate sounded, or the most closely they stuck to Trump, the more support they got. This strategy likely cost Republicans a Senate and Governorship in Pennsylvania and a Senate seat in New Hampshire. With this success, Democrats will attempt the plan again.
Before the election, polling suggested that Republicans could overcome this strategy. But as election night went on, it became clear that candidate quality mattered. What’s also clear is that Donald Trump remains toxic in every sense of the word. He’s hurting Republicans across the board in national races. Furthermore, he likely couldn’t win a Presidential race against Joe Biden, a guy who makes John Fetterman seem coherent.
Charles C. W. Cooke noted in National Review, “Clearly, the GOP’s incoherent worldview remains a big electoral problem. Clearly, Donald Trump’s continued unpopularity remains a big electoral problem. Clearly, the Right’s persistent preference for cranks and oddballs remains a big electoral problem. In essence, the electorate did this year what it tried to do back in 2020: It chastised Donald Trump and his cronies; it divided power between the two parties; and it instructed the president that, for now, it wants him to do nothing more interesting than play caretaker.”
Strike while the iron is hot.
When an election presents wave conditions, you have to strike immediately. Those conditions don’t always return; it can be a decade or more before you get them. 2022 was a wasted moment for Republicans and left us with a closely divided government. Even worse, these midterms breathed new life into Joe Biden and the Democratic agenda. The irony is that there were already articles about pushing Biden out. That push is on ice for now.
After this disaster, the 2024 Presidential race and the primaries ahead of it loom large. After subpar performances in 2018, 2020, and 2022, the Republican Party is picking up the pieces from another disastrous outing. In 2018, you could excuse some of the losses as stereotypical midterm losses.
But after the 2022 midterms, that excuse has vanished. Republican advantages are dissipating into thin air as voters reject crackpot candidates connected to Donald Trump. A red wave turned into a ripple outside one state: Florida.
DeSantis is the answer.
The path forward for the Republican Party: nominating Ron DeSantis for President in 2024. No other Republican candidate can boast the victories that DeSantis has stacked up in a short time in Florida. His governance has gone so well that people are fleeing New York and California for the beaches of freedom in Florida.
Conservative governance works. We have countless examples of it performing well in states across the United States. Ron DeSantis and Republicans like him in other states were rewarded in these midterms. Donald Trump and his endorsed crew of misfits are anathemas to future Republican gains.
Ron DeSantis is DeFuture, as the New York Post coined him. Fixing the mistakes of 2022 starts now, and it begins with elevating Ron DeSantis as the new leader of the Republican Party.