By Erick-Woods Erickson
Sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news. But what happened last night did not seem to be in the cards for anyone. The recriminations on the GOP are starting after a week of Democrats attacking each other for losing. No one saw that coming.
Headed into election day, Democrats had started attacking each other. Late yesterday, they were already throwing White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain under the bus. The turnout data in a number of states showed Democrat voting underperforming. What happened is that the Florida GOP turnout was so overwhelming it almost hid everything else.
What happened last night was the best showing of an incumbent party since 2002. The Democrats are track to lose the House, but barely. And the Senate may hold to 50-50.
There are no apparent indications of fraud or theft, though some Republicans who expected a big night are already rushing there. Instead, there is something very obvious.
This is the United States Balkanizing
Working-class neighborhoods of nonwhite voters shifted a bit to the right. White, rich neighborhoods that had long propped up the GOP shifted hard left.
In Republican states, the GOP did well. In Democrat states, the Democrats fared well. Republicans helped the Democrats in Maryland get the Governor’s Mansion. Democrats in Florida and Georgia voted for DeSantis and Kemp.
This election is our nation fracturing before our eyes where both sides are increasingly unwilling to live with each other, and the nation, being so closely divided, is reflected in our congressional vote.
Yugoslavia was a country of countries forced together. Over years, that nation, forced together with the force of dictatorship, began to break apart into small nations that went to war with each other for freedom. That concept of these small Balkan region nations splintering from Yugoslavia is what is happening in this nation, though hopefully without a war.
Americans simply do not like other Americans and have lost the ability to get along with one another at a regional level.
Where Do We Stand?
Democrats got a few surprise pickups that hint to a larger pattern. Republicans did flip a few swing seats, including in Virginia, where Democrat turnout did underperform.
The Senate looks like it could be back to 50-50 or decided by a runoff in Georgia.
Adam Laxalt does look on track to win Nevada, but it is too soon to tell. Pennsylvanians really did decide to go with a native vegetable over a transplanted New Jerseyian.
Polling in Arizona vastly overstated performances for the GOP. In fact, partisan Republican polling was so terrible it painted a rosier picture for the GOP and hid a lot of what was happening, even in the polling averages.
A bright spot was Florida. The GOP has now turned that state bright red. That helps them with an Electoral College advantage in two years.
The bottom line is that voters hate everybody, and candidate quality matters.
GOP, You Must Be Done With Trump
Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and Brian Kemp all did very well. They did well as their own men in their own right.
The voters thoroughly rejected trump-backed candidates.
Bo Hines, the young man in North Carolina who Trump backed, got beaten in a Republican district drawn for a Republican to win. Kari Lake, whose campaign actually impressed me in Arizona, may not pull through now.
In Pennsylvania, it is undisputed that Trump’s endorsement of Mehmet Oz pushed Oz across the finish line in the primary, and Pennsylvania would rather Fetterman than Oz. Trump really owns that one.
The pattern is too noticeable. Trump-backed candidates were very, very weak and many of them lost.
Traditional Republican candidates won. The GOP could have done much better had it picked better candidates. Candidate quality matters, and Trump picked bad candidates.
Barely An Okay Night
The data headed into the election suggested the GOP was headed to a good night. The data and even the Democrats expected it. But voters were having none of the GOP’s unique offerings. Where the GOP offered mainstream candidates who had no Trump baggage, the voters embraced the candidate.
The GOP looks like it is going to win the House. The Senate looks like it’ll probably be tied and need a runoff in Georgia to decide it.
In Georgia, every Republican candidate running statewide was swept into office. Kemp got higher margins than his last race. Kemp outperformed a lot of the public polling. Walker underperformed. Bright red counties for Kemp were light pink for Walker. Voters could not pull the trigger on Trump’s chosen candidate.
This should be a wake up call for the GOP base and donors. Resist the urge to hide your head and claim the election was stolen. Do instead what voters are asking — clean up your house.