The Weakness of the Red Wave: Republicans’ Massive Midterms Blunder


Arielle Biran, Opinions Editor

From the very moment current Democratic President Joe Biden was inaugurated, disgruntled Republicans, 70% of which still align with Qanon-adjacent ideals in maintaining the supposed theft of the 2020 election, have warned of the imminent “red wave.” This intimidatory tide, though just as easily the punchline of a menstrual-cycle mummery, in this context refers to the historical tendency of the party opposite to that of the president gaining control of Congress during the Midterm elections.


However, this infamous red wave was nowhere to be found come November 8. Democrats shockingly managed to retain control of the Senate, while Republicans had a measly net gain of 6 in the House, winning only nine of the thirty-four most competitive races. Disregarding the anomaly of the Bush midterms, the result of a hyper-patriotic political climate in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the president’s party has not retained so many seats in the House since antebellum elections.


These results are especially shocking considering Biden’s approval rate, which sat at a meager 40% mere days prior to Midterms. With such widespread dissatisfaction in the Democratic leadership, one can only wonder how the party managed to gain the upper hand this election cycle. The answer lies not within any virtue of the Democratic party, but rather within the GOP’s utterly antagonistic candidates.


A quintessential example lies within the elections of our own state, where both Senators, the majority of the House, and the state legislature, are now blue. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a TV doctor and resident of New Jersey, as well as Doug Mastriano, a staunch proponent of Qanon ideology and an attendee of the Capitol insurrection, proved to be such weak contenders that their respective candidacies were practically parodical.


How could the Republican party overlook such glaring weakness in their nominees? A shiny Trump endorsement, of course. This year’s Midterms saw thirty-six gubernatorial races, and in twenty-two of them, the GOP candidate had at some point denied the results of the 2020 elections. In essential battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Arizona, and Illinois, such Trump-loving contenders did not win a single race.


Yet, the failure of the red wave to manifest beyond a red splash does not speak to Republican success in individual states. In Florida, for example, the once-purple state now witnessed its Republican candidates outperform their neighbor over at Mar-a-Lago by an average margin of almost twelve points, while controversial incumbent Ron Desantis surpassed his gubernatorial opponent by over twenty percentage points.

Further, the defeat of Republican candidates has a clear link to their stance on Trump. This is exemplified by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who has been vocally critical of the former president, and won reelection by a margin of sixteen points. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those who criticized Trump could not make it through primaries without his seal of approval, and with only extremist, Trump-loving candidates on the ballot, the GOP suffered huge losses in several very winnable elections.


Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 Presidential election earlier this week. But if the GOP hopes to find success in any future capacity, they must take a long look at the results of this year’s midterms. Republican leaders must find a way to pry control of their party from Trump’s tiny, asphyxiating hands, because no red wave is coming to save them.