by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
First, the good news, which will not take long to deliver. Nancy Pelosi’s reign as speaker of the House likely is coming to an end, and, with it, the Democrats’ partisan legislative ambitions. Florida seems to have become a red bastion, and Charlie Crist will go wherever chameleons retire. Stacey Abrams was moved to concede, albeit four years too late. Beto O’Rourke’s biggest win will continue to be the cover of Vanity Fair.
The bad news is more extensive. Republicans fell far short of their expected gains in the House and Senate. They may yet lose a seat in the latter. They narrowly lost governorships they could have won, and lost big in governors’ races that could have been competitive.
Worse, they forfeited winnable races by nominating novices, cranks, and candidates whose primary qualifications were belligerence and fealty to Donald Trump. With a serious nominee for governor and a better nominee for Senate, Pat Toomey’s Senate seat could have been kept. Any number of Republicans could, if nominated, have won the New Hampshire and Georgia Senate races or the race for governor of Wisconsin. A Republican who passed the test of normality could have performed better in the Arizona Senate race. In Michigan, Republicans lost a seat after they booted Representative Peter Meijer in the primary for voting to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot, in favor of a Trump-backed candidate. Although the seat was redistricted in favor of Democrats, it’s worth remembering that Meijer beat the Democratic representative-elect, Hillary Scholten, by six points in 2020, a much less favorable year for Republicans.
The Republican winners of this election were governors such as Mike DeWine of Ohio, Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Brian Kemp of Georgia. They are a varied bunch. DeWine kept Covid restrictions longer than the other two, and DeSantis and Kemp have been tougher on woke corporations. What they have in common, besides incumbency, is a conservatism focused on voters’ priorities.