The much-anticipated Red Wave didn’t turn out to be a tsunami, or a tidal wave, but rather a trickle. As of this writing it appears republicans will regain control of the House and hopefully push Nancy Pelosi into retirement, while the Senate is still up for grabs. The obvious question is, what went wrong? Every election cycle contains many moving parts, things pollsters don’t ask about, but issues nonetheless important to a certain segment of the voting public. Case in point, in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania young people came out in large numbers to support democrats. Wisconsin democrats saw a 350 percent increase in support among young people this mid-term compared to 2018. In Pennsylvania, Senator-elect John Fetterman, unapologetically progressive, who ran on a campaign to legalize marijuana, received most of the support from those 45 and under.
One of the talking heads on CNN, a former Obama staffer, said democrats were successful at localizing inflation and abortion, while distancing themselves from polarizing national figures. Maybe. Although republicans can boast that they have at least one check and balance on an Administration run amok, why weren’t they able to deliver the knockout punch they had promised their supporters? Conservatives may not want to hear this, but the country on the whole is not center-right; it is at best, center. The narrow margins of victory on both sides support this view.
And then there is the Trump factor. Like it or not the former President is a lightning rod. Many of the high-profile Trump-supported candidates either lost or are losing. Dr. Mehmet Oz came up short in his bid for a senate seat in Pennsylvania. In the Arizona Governor’s race Republican Kari Lake is down by about 12,000 votes but is surging and may eke out a victory. Republican Blake Masters fell short in his bid against Democrat Mark Kelly in that state’s Senate race. In Nevada, Trump-backed Adam Laxalt maintains a slim lead over his democratic rival. And in Georgia, Hershel Walker and Raphael Warnock will face each other in a December 6 runoff as neither candidate was able to garner 50 percent of the vote. So republicans need to win both the Nevada and Georgia Senate races to wrest control from the democrats of the upper chamber.
Here in New York, there were a lot of comparisons between Lee Zeldin and George Pataki’s 1994 campaign in which Pataki unseated a three-term Governor. Many believed the L.I. Congressman would have the juice to defeat accidental governor Kathy Hochul. It didn’t happen. Yes, republicans made gains in the Assembly; yes, Alexandria Cortez is calling for a change in leadership of New York’s Democrat Party due to republican gains across the state. But overall, the G.O.P. failed to deliver the goods.
Despite the under-performance of some republican candidates there is reason for optimism.
Florida is becoming deeply red. Governor Ron DeSantis won re-election in a landslide. He will be working with republican supermajorities in each house. Even Miami-Dade County, long a democratic stronghold, went red.
There are any number of reasons for republicans failing to deliver on the shellacking many in the G.O.P. were promising, but one thing appears certain: come January 1, Nancy Pelosi will once again become the House Minority Leader. And that’s a good thing, considering what she and her Party have put Americans through these last two years.