On Nov. 4, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich boasted of a GOP election “blowout” to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Republicans were sure to pick up 44 House seats and three to five Senate seats in a “Red Wave,” Gingrich predicted.
But, it wasn’t just Gingrich and Fox Nation that miscalculated the surprising result. Pollsters working for mainstream media, USA TODAY and the New York Times, also found Republicans surging.
The outcome was unexpected.
Final House results remain uncertain. Democrats are assured of Senate control with at least 50 seats. Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto’s narrow victory (9,007 votes) over Republican Adam Laxalt was the decider.
Over 70% of election day voters told exit pollsters they were unhappy with the state of the nation. Biden’s an unpopular president, inflation’s at 8%, real incomes falling, crime rising and there’s chaos at the border.
As a result, Republicans should have won an easy midterm victory.
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 kooky GOP alternatives.
Democrats 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 overturning of Roe vs. Wade gave Democrats a tool to reach moderates and independents.
Conservative Kansas voters in August and voters in five other states in November (including conservative Kentucky and Montana) featured ballot referendum on abortion questions. The pro-choice side won each.
In 1990, Nevada voters passed a referendum (63.5 percent approved) safeguarding a state law legalizing abortion. Current voter sentiment is at least as decisively 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 about an unproven stolen election and won his endorsement.
The extremism of Trump-endorsed candidates took many forms including delegitimizing our election system and excusing the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
The weirdness of some Trump wackadoodle candidates — their inexperience and fixation on conflict — asked too much of swing voters, who said no.
The MAGA movement and Donald Trump took it on the chin.
Normal conservatives and Republicans did well. Trump-endorsed candidates went down.
In Senate races the message couldn’t be clearer. Trump-endorsed candidate Don Bolduc lost in New Hampshire, Blake Masters lost in Arizona, Mehmet Oz lost in Pennsylvania and Hershel Walker trailed in Georgia.
In governor’s races, Trump-endorsed Doug Mastriano was a landslide loser in Pennsylvania, Tim Michaels lost in Wisconsin, Kari Lake lost in Arizona, and Tudor Dixon lost in Michigan. Each fumbled winnable gubernatorial races.
Meanwhile, normal Republicans flourished 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 landslide 19 percent.
In Nevada, Republican Gov.-elect Joe Lombardo defeated Gov. Steve Sisolak. He became the only candidate in the nation to defeat an incumbent governor or senator in 2022.
Lombardo’s the first candidate to beat an incumbent Nevada governor in a general election since Gov. Bob List’s defeat in 1982.
The biggest election loser was Trump.
Since his unlikely victory in 2016 against an unpopular Hillary Clinton, Trump has a perfect record of electoral defeat.
The GOP was pounded in the 2018 midterms losing 41 House seats owing to his low approval ratings. Trump himself lost in 2020. He then undermined Georgia’s 2021 Senate runoffs by blaming party leaders for not overturning his defeat.
Now Trump has botched the 2022 elections, handing the Democrats the Senate for two more years.
This election proved Trumpism has become toxic – not just to the Never Trumpers or RINOs, but to the vast middle of the American electorate.
E-mail Jim Hartman at email@example.com.