Finger-pointing is one of the political class’s favorite past times; when a candidate fails, fingers are pointed, mostly because the alternative would be for them to accept some of the blame. There is plenty of blame to go around in the 2022 election case because a lot of feces were hit by a strong fan. Almost everyone was struck by spatter at some point.
Both Trump fans and non-Trump supporters blame Mitch McConnell. But who should bear the brunt of the blame? Absolutely everywhere.
Where people needed to show up in order to flip races, they didn’t. Oh, they appeared somewhere else. The “national popular vote,” or the overall number of votes cast for each party, will be mentioned. Democrats only received about 47 million votes, compared to about 52 million for Republicans. It’s an intriguing statistic that indicates nothing at all.
It can’t be consoling now since in previous cycles, conservatives would openly mock Democrats for pointing up that they had won the NPV, as they should have. Everyone is aware of where votes are required. Candidates, campaigns, and the party deserve to lose if they are unable to operate within that reality.
What the heck happened, then? A lot. And while it wasn’t all simply Donald Trump vs. Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, it was a part of it, so I’ll start there before moving on to what, in my opinion, should bear the lion’s share of the blame for the defeats.
Where should Trump be? Even while his share of the electorate is getting less, the former president still has a lot of power.
Leaving aside the enormous sum of money he raised and the pitiful sum he spent aiding candidates, Trump’s issue is one of reality vs. sentiments. There is intense enthusiasm for him across the nation, which gives the impression that there is a lot of passion for him. The two are different from one another. One is widely accepted and popular throughout the entire population, but the other is sincerely and vehemently held by a small portion of the population. Unfortunately, all of these possibilities have the potential to appear to be the same. Never the two, though; it’s always one or the other.
Even when Trump tries to transfer his affection, it does not work. Few supporters (compared to the population) get out for a fun rally, but fewer turn out to vote when you factor in a huge ego and a lack of regard for propriety. Voting for someone is done solely because the voter wants them to win. There is no policy discussion or “Vote for this person and they’ll pass” promise on any legislation.
There is also no connecting factor. JD Vance is a conservative; Dr. Oz is not. It’s comparable to urging folks to support Mike Lee and Mitt Romney just because you told them to, primarily because they complimented you. People realize that it doesn’t make much sense.
More than anything else, Monday Morning Quarterbacking hurt the McConnell/McCarthy wing of the party. Did they not give money where it may have had a greater positive impact? No doubt. Should they have spent more on some races and less on others, like Alaska, for example? Yes, without a doubt. When something is over, everyone can see what the appropriate decision was since it all makes sense when looking back.
You cannot, however, make decisions based solely on what you see in the rearview mirror. If they had endless resources, that would be fantastic. Since they don’t, decisions must be made, and nobody consistently chooses well for the future, it is simply not feasible. However, they are responsible for the results of their decisions.
Having said that, Lindsey Graham was the actual issue for the Republicans.
In September, the senior South Carolina senator made the decision to introduce a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks for reasons that are only known to him. Whatever your opinion of the idea, it was a poor strategic choice.
The Dobbs judgment was leaked, and Democrats lost it. Liberals were inspired and flocked to the streets when it was released two months later. That enthusiasm had worn off a month later. Driving to the protests became too expensive due to high gas prices, and inflation made even bringing a meal for it unaffordable. Redirected rage was produced. Lindsey Graham then materialized.
Graham chose to take a dive on that idea and go against federalism, reenergizing those liberals who had lost interest in it after decades of conservatives claiming that if Roe v. Wade were overturned all it would mean was that the matter would return to the states.
Graham re-energized Democrats on the topic by including referendums on abortion on the ballot in important states, which was a wise move by Democrats. What had before seemed to be a pointless concept now gained fresh urgency. Wherever Democrats needed them, they appeared. (See, for example, the contests for governor and several House seats in Michigan, as well as the referendum that decisively supported abortion.)
There is plenty of blame to go around, but Lindsey Graham should bear the lion’s share of it. Graham’s plan would never pass in this Congress (or the next one, because to the GOP’s failure), regardless of how you feel about abortion. Whether you’re firmly pro-life or just believe Roe v. Wade established the law, you can rest assured that it won’t. Biden would veto the legislation even if it passed. If Lindsey felt driven to do so, he might have done it right now rather than right before the vote. The motivation it gave Democrats would not have occurred, and no Republican would have been held accountable.
Fantastic job, Lindsey. Next time, however, perhaps stick to attempting to ignite wars abroad, or at the very least wait until after the election before pushing an idea that won’t get any traction.