“The Republican Party outside of Florida has no message. No discipline. No leadership. No courage to confront the important issues head-on. That’s why they’re losing to literally brain-damaged candidates. We need a total overhaul.” — Conservative commentator Matt Walsh, November 9, 2022
As a reasonable conservative analyst, I found myself shaking my head at the midterm results. By any measure, it should have been a Republican blowout. President Biden’s approval ratings are low, inflation is high, and the Democrats were barely hanging on to both houses of Congress to begin with.
But it wasn’t a wave—it was barely even a ripple. I am therefore forced to conclude that the Republican Party must conduct a thorough, unflinching audit of our electoral strategy. And when that audit is complete, I believe we’ll all agree: it’s time for the GOP to do a whole lot more of the exact same thing.
In senate race after senate race, the trend was clear: candidates in the mold of Donald Trump fell wildly short of expectations. During the next cycle’s primary season, we can play no more games: we must find candidates who are even more like Donald Trump. Pennsylvania voters made it clear that they didn’t want a celebrity TV grifter from out-of-state to represent them in Washington—when his name is Mehmet Oz. But can you imagine if he changed his name to something just slightly more populist? If anyone could connect with working people, it’s Dr. Trump.
In the House, several election deniers were summarily rejected, even in districts they should have won in a landslide. Here, they made the crucial mistake of expressing too much confidence in our electoral system. Yes, it’s a good start to tell your voters to wait until Election Day to vote because mail-in ballots can’t be trusted. But next time, let’s take it a step further, and tell voters to skip the election altogether. Then, when the results come in and the mainstream media claims we got zero votes, that will strain credulity even more than the idea that we could narrowly lose when absolutely everything was going our way.
Meanwhile, voters across the country showed up in unprecedented numbers to support pro-choice ballot initiatives—and lifted up a number of Democratic candidates along the way. I’ll admit, seeing that indisputable backlash to the Dobbs decision gave me pause. And after that pause, I wondered if someone should tell Samuel Alito to hurry up with overturning voting rights and giving state legislatures the unilateral power to decide federal elections? We wouldn’t want too many more votes or federal elections between now and then.
I find myself replaying the last few months over and over—thinking about our party’s full-tilt campaign against trans youth, our authoritarian, racially inflammatory rhetoric on crime, and our insistence on rallying behind candidates who either sympathized with Nazis, personally impregnated half of their home state, or both—and I keep coming to the same conclusion. It may feel satisfying to consistently give in to our most base ideological impulses… and that’s actually the end of the thought.
The one bright spot for Republicans, as always, was in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis scored an enormous twenty-point victory. With 2024 around the corner, I think it’s obvious what we need to do with this momentum: vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump again the second he calls DeSantis “Stinky Ron” on Truth Social.
It was a difficult night for conservatives, but if there’s a silver lining when you lose an election, it’s that you have an indelible moment of clarity. You get to take stock of all the information you’ve learned, and reassess accordingly. And there is no ambiguity here: the Republican Party needs to present a vision catered to a nation that feels we’ve gone off the rails. We need to avert the alarming course that this country is on and go back to a simpler, more reasonable era.
Message received: you want us to Make America Great Again. See you at Mar-a-Lago on November 15.