The melancholy mood of conservative voters the day after the midterm election is somewhat surprising. It speaks to the culture of winning President Trump promised, and delivered, over the past two years. The GOP base has grown so accustomed to winning that losing in any significant way, even amid an evening full of great electoral victories, caused many to spend the next day sulking and worrying on social media and around the water cooler.
Here are some observations from Election Night and some things to think about to keep the results in perspective:
- Ask yourself this: Would you trade midterm election results with the Democrats?
- Trump Republicans won all the big-ticket races of this election. Sen. Cruz swatted away Beto O’Rourke like a bothersome, skateboarding fly. The GOP flipped the Senate seats of Bill Nelson, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill. In addition, Republicans now have strong Trump-supporting senators in the seats previously occupied by Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. Those two “never-Trumpers” were a constant thorn in the side of GOP efforts to do anything and often caused more problems than did Democratic senators. Just those six Senate seats (the four flips plus Corker’s and Flake’s) create a powerful concrete wall between President Trump and the shenanigans that are sure to come from the House of Representatives.
- Similarly, if another Supreme Court vacancy occurs any time soon, President Trump has a clear path for his nominee. Democrats have destroyed themselves with their Kavanaugh smear, and Trump Republicans have firm control of the Senate. The increased margin is just a bonus, since Harry Reid went with the “nuclear option” back in 2013. The president and his various nominees have nothing but clear sailing in front of them now.
- As mentioned earlier regarding Flake and Corker, the anti-Trump posturing within the Republican Party has been an unnecessary distraction. When has any other sitting president been harassed, mocked and vilified every day by members of his own party? Those days are over.
- Several Republicans now owe their political careers to President Trump.
- It seemed odd hearing Mr. Trump publicly calling out losing Republicans who ran a campaign distancing themselves from their own sitting president. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mia Love, Barbara Comstock and others all tried to apologize their way to re-election. They made the mistake of listening to Democrats, the media and the GOP establishment for how they should run their campaigns. President Trump was not incorrect in pointing it out, and it put a punctuation mark on his ownership of the party.
- Someone described the U.S. Senate as “Trumpier” now. Clever and accurate.
- Trump-style GOP candidates also won the high-stakes, high-profile gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia. Both of those races were proxy wars for the larger national contest between Trump Republicans and Bernie Sanders-style socialist Democrats.
- It was wishful thinking to expect Republicans to keep the House. Using a president’s first midterm election as a guide, Republicans could count on losing 25-30 seats. Obama lost 63 his first midterm. The GOP had dozens of members retiring, so the party lost the incumbent advantage in those seats. An actual “blue wave” would have been something closer to Obama’s 2010 “shellacking.” Incidentally, Obama lost another 13 seats in the 2014 midterms and a staggering nine Senate seats. So, the GOP only losing 26 to 30 seats was a pretty good showing, both historically and considering the exodus of Republican incumbents.
- Media coverage from the networks was shameful. Many, if not all, of the major networks had commentators slip and say “we,” referring to Democrats. As in: “If we can hold on in this city, it should make this race closer.” Several journalists expressed disappointment that a blue wave did not seem to be developing. None of this is new, of course, but it is shameful because they lecture Americans about their own importance and seriousness as journalists.
- There’s not a lot of talk about this significant aspect of Tuesday’s election results: Democrats again spent a jaw-dropping amount money on losing campaigns. Beto O’Rourke raised $70 million in his loss to Ted Cruz. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum raised over $52 million in his losing bid for governor. Stacey Abrams raised over $16 million, about half from out-of-state donors, in her loss to Brian Kemp in Georgia. Democratic fundraisers have stoked their donors and Hollywood benefactors by hyperventilating about how Americans hate President Trump and can’t wait to rebuke him in special elections or in the midterm. Democratic donors have poured cash into race after race for two years only to see the promises of anti-Trump and anti-Republican waves of victory fall short again and again. The left has sold these races like carnival barkers promising a giant smackdown to the president. Their lone high-profile victory over this time was in the special election for Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate seat in Alabama. But that success was because the Democratic smear machine furiously “Kavanaughed” Republican Roy Moore in the final days of the campaign. Outrageous sexual allegations from decades past (by people who have since faded back into the shadows) is what got Democrats the victory, not fundraising and anti-Trump backlash. One has to wonder how much longer Democrats can continue selling deep-pocket donors the anti-Trump angle before fatigue from losses begin to take a toll on the bottom line.
- In Georgia, Kemp and Abrams raised about the same total amount of money, but 96 percent of Kemp’s contributions were from Georgians. About half of Abrams’ contributions were from out-of-state. Abrams came very close to winning the governor’s race in a large state on the power of massive outside funding and celebrity appearances by Oprah and others.
- Obama was 0-for-4 on races where he campaigned. One might wonder if he ever campaigns again. The obvious exception would be for wife Michelle, if she decides to seek office.
Conservatives should not be unhappy with Tuesday’s election results. We would not want to trade outcomes with Democrats.