Although most polling firms predicted that Election Day would see House Democrats build on their majority, voters had other plans: rather than gain seats, the Democratic Party lost at least a dozen of them. That outcome has led many to examine how Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), could have done better.
But according to the Washington Examiner’s chief political correspondent Byron York, Democrats’ poor performance may have less to do with Pelosi and more to do with the man opposing her.
In a piece for the Examiner, York wrote that “perhaps the GOP is the real story of the moment, and especially Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, the mastermind of the 2020 strategy, and the man who might one day become speaker.”
According to York, McCarthy (R-CA) took careful stock of why Democrats performed so much better than Republicans in the 2018 midterms and then worked to replicate their success.
York noted that McCarthy had observed the way Democrats successfully made use of the fundraising firm ActBlue to fill their war chest.
York explained that this inspired McCarthy to create “new fundraising machines, such as ‘Take Back the House’ and ‘Win Red,’ to challenge Democrats in seeking online contributions.”
Those efforts brought a major financial payoff, with the result being a billion dollars raised over the course of just 15 months.
What’s more, York noted that “McCarthy was determined to overhaul GOP candidate recruitment,” adding that Republicans needed “more women, more minorities, and a general increase in candidate quality level.”
Inspired by Trump
Another factor in turning the tide in 2020 for Republicans was a “secret weapon” that McCarthy said was an idea thought of by President Donald Trump: telephone rallies.
According to the House minority leader, Trump was “a workaholic” when it came to hitting the phones, even continuing to do so while he was in the hospital recovering from COVID.
York said that McCarthy also made a point of highlighting rhetoric from Democratic members of the so-called “Squad” about defunding law enforcement and embracing socialism — issues that do not play well in suburban swing districts.
“Put all the factors together, and Pelosi nearly lost her majority,” York wrote. “Though a few races remain undecided, it appears Democrats have lost at least nine seats, after predictions she would pick up as many as 15.”