The Republican miscalculation

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Department of Justice photograph of seized materials, reportedly partially redacted, via the Washington Post, August 31, 2022,[1] public domain.

The narrowing path for Republican victory has stunned lawmakers from both parties, freezing plans for legislation and leadership maneuvers as they wait to see who takes control and learn the margins that will dictate which ideological factions wield power. Regardless of the outcome, the lack of a “red wave” marks a devastating outcome for Republicans, who believed they would cruise to a large governing majority in the House and possibly flip the Senate.

The GOP faces a small but real prospect that it may not reclaim the House majority despite high pre-election hopes based on the disapproval of President Biden, record inflation and traditional losses for the party that holds the White House. Late Friday, Democrats moved one Senate seat closer to retaining their majority in the chamber as Sen. Mark Kelly won reelection in Arizona. Winning either in Nevada — which was still counting votes — or in Georgia, where a runoff is set for Dec. 6, would allow them to stay in power. . . .

“It’s an unworkable majority. Nothing meaningful will get passed,” a dejected aide to a senior House Republican said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal tensions.[2]

By midnight on January 6, [2021] it was obvious that if we continued to sleepwalk down the path of crazy we’d face a rude awakening. Instead of facing those facts, the GOP spent the last two years heading in the same direction and actively avoiding any internal reckoning. After Tuesday, we have no choice but to heed voters when they say that ‘the grass is green, the sky is blue, and by the way, you just got your ass handed to you.’ But waking up to that reality is going to be rough.[3]

Whether you call it “sleepwalking” or pandering to an almost certainly criminal ex-president Donald Trump, it’s apparent that many Republican members of Congress continue to do so, complicating the question of who will be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as any legislative plans.[4]

In a tweet Friday [November 11], [Matt] Gaetz cited several perceived deficiencies with [Kevin] McCarthy, including his telling other GOP leaders that President Donald Trump should resign in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. . . .

Rep. Chip Roy (Tex.) has said “no one currently has 218” votes — the number needed to win the speakership in the full chamber. Moreover, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.) have declined to say whether they would support McCarthy.

“There are people who swear upon firstborn children that they’ll never vote for McCarthy,” another aide to a senior Republican lawmaker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to relay private conversations.[5]

Trump loyalists have deemed Kevin McCarthy, from Bakersfield (of “Girl with Far Away Eyes” fame, and yeah, I think I know where those 20 red lights are), insufficiently loyal,[6] which is a good thing if you’re understanding that the Republicans need to move away from Trump,[7] but a bad thing if you’re still itching to fly that Confederate flag in your front yard.[8]

It’s really a classic question, and one we see on the Left as well: Did you fail to win because you were 1) too aggressive or 2) insufficiently aggressive in pushing base priorities? With a diverse electorate, this is never a simple question. But what’s even worse is if you even misjudge, as it’s increasingly clear many Republican politicians have,[9] where that base stands.[10]

Reuters, “Russia’s Prigozhin admits interfering in U.S. elections,” November 7, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/russias-prigozhin-admits-interfering-us-elections-2022-11-07/

Jan Wolfe, “Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes Says Members Were ‘Stupid’ to Enter Capitol on Jan. 6,” Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/oath-keeper-stewart-rhodes-says-members-were-stupid-to-enter-capitol-on-jan-6-11667849556

Natalie Andrews, Siobhan Hughes, and Lindsay Wise, “Frustrated Republicans Try to Explain Lack of Midterm ‘Red Wave,’” Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/frustrated-republicans-try-to-explain-lack-of-midterm-red-wave-11668036382

Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, “One likely 2024 GOP contender triumphed on election night. It wasn’t Donald Trump,” Washington Post, November 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/09/desantis-trump-2024-presidential-election/

Dan Balz, “The vaunted red wave never hit the shore in midterm elections,” Washington Post, November 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/08/midterms-dissatisfied-voters-render-judgments-biden-republicans/

Jonathan Freedland, “The winner of the midterms is not yet clear – but the loser is Donald Trump,” Guardian, November 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/nov/09/the-winner-of-the-midterms-is-not-yet-clear-but-the-loser-is-donald-trump

David Lauter, “The midterm’s big loser: Trump suffers multiple defeats,” Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/newsletter/2022-11-09/the-midterms-big-loser-trump-suffers-multiple-defeats-essential-politics

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Group explains polling place security teams that led to response by Allegheny County sheriff’s deputies,” November 9, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/election2022/2022/11/09/election-day-allegheny-county-polling-place-commission-security/stories/202211090101

Brian Slodysko, “Election takeaways: No sweep for the Republicans after all,” Associated Press, November 9, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-takeaways-9381d3aaff26d19da95506e045fcd6e1

Jonathan Tamari and William Bender, “‘It’s time for him to retire’: Some Pa. Republicans want to push Trump aside after their election losses,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 10, 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/politics/election/pa-republicans-blame-trump-2022-losses-20221110.html

Adam Taylor, “Is the world ready for President DeSantis and a Floridian foreign policy?” Washington Post, November 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/11/10/desanntis-foreign-policy-florida/

Chris Walker, “Trump Is Blaming Everyone But Himself for Midterm Losses — Including His Wife,” Truthout, November 10, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/trump-is-blaming-everyone-but-himself-for-midterm-losses-including-his-wife/

Liz Goodwin, “A red wave of criticism crashes into Donald Trump after midterm losses,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/trump-criticism-midterms-republicans/

Katelyn Polantz, Sara Murray, and Gabby Orr, “Trump sues January 6 committee seeking to block subpoena for his testimony and documents,” Cable News Network, November 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/11/politics/trump-january-6-committee-subpoena-lawsuit/index.html

Melanie Mason, “Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly fends off GOP challenger Blake Masters,” Los Angeles Times, November 11, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-11-11/mark-kelly-blake-masters-arizona-senate-results

Greg Sargent, “Republicans want Trump to take the blame. Good luck with that,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/11/11/trump-midterm-elections-gop-abortion-rights-2024/

Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/


  1. [1]Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/
  2. [2]Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/
  3. [3]Peter Meijer, quoted in Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/
  4. [4]Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/
  5. [5]Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/
  6. [6]Marianna Sotomayor et al., “Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/senate-republicans-mcconnell-midterms/
  7. [7]Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, “One likely 2024 GOP contender triumphed on election night. It wasn’t Donald Trump,” Washington Post, November 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/09/desantis-trump-2024-presidential-election/; Jonathan Freedland, “The winner of the midterms is not yet clear – but the loser is Donald Trump,” Guardian, November 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/nov/09/the-winner-of-the-midterms-is-not-yet-clear-but-the-loser-is-donald-trump; Liz Goodwin, “A red wave of criticism crashes into Donald Trump after midterm losses,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/trump-criticism-midterms-republicans/; David Lauter, “The midterm’s big loser: Trump suffers multiple defeats,” Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/newsletter/2022-11-09/the-midterms-big-loser-trump-suffers-multiple-defeats-essential-politics
  8. [8]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, November 11, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/
  9. [9]Liz Goodwin, “A red wave of criticism crashes into Donald Trump after midterm losses,” Washington Post, November 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/11/11/trump-criticism-midterms-republicans/
  10. [10]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, November 11, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/

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