Republicans “Blue” the Red Wave and Desperately Need a Rebrand


It seemed predestined, already etched into the annals of history, that a Republican splash of gigantic proportions would descend upon the nation come election day. The GOP was projected to ride this ‘red wave’ with polls showing potential for a massive gain in the House of Representatives. The Senate, competitive as usual, was projected to be a more arduous affair with Republican incumbents placed on defense in several competitive states. 


Yet a storm had been promised and the night did look quite promising indeed; incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio cruised to re-election in Florida by margins close to 20%, heralding a new era by further ebbing Florida’s status as a swing state. However a series of house races, notably in Virginia, soon diminished the so-called ‘red wave’ as a series of incumbent Democrats easily cruised to re-election. To make matters worse for the Republicans, they watched agape as John Fetterman managed to flip the Pennsylvania senate seat — giving the Democrats another majority term in the Senate.

No incumbent Democrat Senator or Governor—with the exception of the unpopular Steve Sisolak—was defeated this cycle and Republicans found themselves suddenly on defense for several reasons: Donald Trump, the issue of abortion, and a general lack of cohesion or ideology. I will be the first to admit I clearly misunderstood the electorate, and so did many others. Historically, a reliable barometer for midterm success would be to graph the President’s approval ratings compared with the ‘direction of the country.’ A record was shattered this summer concerning Americans who believed the nation was headed down an undesirable path – and the President’s popularity has remained low ever since. 


Yet, the Republicans had a laughable strategy for the midterms, believing that simply bad-mouthing Biden would lead a skeptical electorate to bestow upon them the speaker’s gavel once more. Republican leadership appeared more fixated on fighting each other over ‘MAGA purity’ and wasting away what little money they had in the process, rather than actual policy. Mitch McConnell preferred draining his coffers in an inter party fight in the reliably Republican state of Alaska, than shelling out coins in the battleground states of Arizona and New Hampshire. Further, the Republican platform was utterly lackluster, full of nothing but Trumpian soundbytes to satiate the tastes of a ravenous base while leaving little room for moderates or independents.


Lingering like an orange specter over the spectacle was Donald Trump, whose toxicity seemed to doom candidates such as Kari Lake, Herschel Walker, Adam Laxalt, and Mehmet Oz. The former President wasted no time interfering with the elections, promoting only the most loyal candidates who would validate his self-inflicted grievances and delusions about the 2020 presidential election. Now, having prematurely announced a hopefully ill-fated 2024 bid, Mr. Trump has engaged in a proxy war against his current rival, Governor DeSantis, showing the little regard he holds for the unity of the Republican Party.


Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, general election voters care little for his petulant whining about a two-year-old election, and instead felt compelled to remind him that they have already rejected him and his ideology. Mr. Trump’s tenure so far as the ‘kingmaker’ of the Republican Party has been a disaster — with his selected ‘MAGA faithful’ losing in nearly every swing state; if a CEO of a public company had bungled two important opportunities, as Mr. Trump has, then he would find a termination notice sitting prettily on his desk the next day.


And last but not least, who could forget the abortion issue? My article about “Roevember” not saving the Democrats clearly underestimated the libertarian streak that most Americans possess — government taking away any right seems to be unpopular and electorally suicidal. Perhaps it is time for the so-called party of small government and individual liberty to practice what they preach, and veer away from religion-infused politics. 


With the country becoming more secular, particularly with Gen Z, an appeal to the religious side of the country is foolhardy and not electorally viable. The Democrats should be buying Lindsay Graham as many fruit baskets, cakes, and expensive bottles of chardonnay as possible — despite years of Republicans lobbying that abortion was not a federal issue, rather a state one, the minute Roe v. Wade was struck away into oblivion he began championing a federal ban on abortion after fifteen weeks, a perfect way to put that issue front and center in the midterms. 


The Republicans should use this time to lick their wounds, revisit what they stand for, and then should sack the entirety of their leadership — it’s time for the geriatrics to go. Ronna McDaniel’s tenure as leader of the RNC seems to have done nothing but cede party control to Mr. Trump, and she has now overseen two disastrous midterm cycles for the party — she must go as well. As Kevin McCarthy prepares to take the speaker’s gavel and lead a fragile majority into action, he should feel as much pressure as possible — he enters this arena untested, unproven, and so far with a disastrous track record. 


And as all eyes turn to the sunshine state, the question is whether Mr. DeSantis can wrestle control of the party away from the clutches of Mr. Trump. If the Republicans hope to successfully oust President Biden in two years, it will not be with Mr. Trump at the helm — the question is whether the party truly has the thought capacity to figure this out for themselves.