Jim Hartman: The GOP Election Disaster

On Nov. 4, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich bragged to Fox News’ Sean Hannity about a “blowout” in the GOP election. Gingrich predicted that the Republicans would certainly win 44 seats in the House of Representatives and three to five seats in the Senate in a “red wave”.

Not correct.

But it wasn’t just Gingrich and Fox Nation who misjudged the surprising result. Pollsters working for mainstream media USA TODAY and the New York Times also noted that Republicans are on the rise.

The result was unexpected.

The final results of the house remain uncertain. The Democrats are guaranteed control of the Senate with at least 50 seats. The narrow victory of Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada (9,007 votes) over Republican Adam Laxalt was the decision.

Over 70% of voters on Election Day told pollsters they were dissatisfied with the state of the nation. Biden is an unpopular president, inflation is at 8%, real incomes are falling, crime is rising and chaos reigns on the border.

As a result, the Republicans should have picked up an easy halftime win.

The GOP’s failure to do so was their own fault. Millions of swing voters found GOP candidates too extreme. Americans are unhappy with Democratic governance, but they rejected far-right, crazy GOP alternatives.

Democrats have successfully mobilized women and young voters on the abortion issue. More than a quarter of all voters identified abortion as their top priority in this election.

The fall of Roe vs. Wade gave Democrats a tool to reach out to moderates and independents.

Conservative voters in Kansas in August and voters in five other states in November (including conservative Kentucky and Montana) held a plebiscite referendum on abortion issues. The pro-choice side won in each case.

In 1990, Nevada voters passed a referendum (by 63.5 percent) that secured state legislation legalizing abortion. Current voter sentiment is at least as decidedly pro-choice. The abortion issue worked against Republican candidates.

Candidate quality matters, and the GOP nominated too many bad candidates who owed their allegiance to Donald Trump. They fed his ego via an unproven stolen choice and won his approval.

The extremism of Trump-backed candidates took many forms, including delegitimizing our voting system and condoning the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The weirdness of some Trump-Wackadoodle candidates — their inexperience and fixation on conflict — was asking too much of swing voters, who said no.

The MAGA movement and Donald Trump took it by the chin.

Regular Conservatives and Republicans did well. Trump-backed candidates went under.

In Senate races, the message couldn’t be clearer. Trump-backed candidate Don Bolduc lost in New Hampshire, Blake Masters in Arizona, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Hershel Walker in Georgia.

In the gubernatorial races, Trump-backed Doug Mastriano was a landslide loser in Pennsylvania, Tim Michaels lost in Wisconsin, Kari Lake lost in Arizona and Tudor Dixon lost in Michigan. Everyone was fumbling winnable gubernatorial races.

Meanwhile, regular Republicans thrived from East to West. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu won by 15 percent, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp by 7 percent and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by a 19 percent landslide win.

In Nevada, Republican Governor-elect Joe Lombardo defeated Governor Steve Sisolak. He was the only candidate in the nation to defeat an incumbent governor or senator in 2022.

Lombardo is the first candidate to defeat an incumbent Nevada governor in a general election since Governor Bob List was defeated in 1982.

The biggest loser in the election was Trump.

Since his unlikely 2016 victory over an unpopular Hillary Clinton, Trump has had a perfect record of electoral defeats.

The GOP was defeated in the midterms of 2018, losing 41 seats in the House of Representatives due to its low approval ratings. Trump himself lost in 2020. He then undermined Georgia’s 2021 Senate runoff by blaming party leaders for failing to reverse his defeat.

Now Trump has botched the 2022 election and handed the Senate to the Democrats for another two years.

This election proved that Trumpism has become toxic — not just for the Never Trumpers or RINOs, but for the broader American electorate.

Email Jim Hartman at [email protected]