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Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

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Image credit: Politico

Reversal of Fortunes

Dana Perino eloquently once said on a past episode of The Five:

Republicans rarely miss an opportunity to blow an opportunity.

At the beginning of the year it looked as if the Republicans were going to have 2022 midterm victories that would have dwarfed 1994 and 2010.  However unexpected losses in several recent elections, such as the New York’s swing 19th Congressional District or the flipping of Alaska’s lone Congressional seat to Democrats for the first time ever, the Republicans are squandering what was seen just months earlier as a “sure thing.”

New York Daily News brags:

The victory marks a major win for Democrats heading towards the midterm elections as they hope to retain control of the House and beat back any potential “red wave.”

Special elections tend to be an accurate assessment of the overall political climate because they attract the most engaged voters from each party, political data crunchers say.

The win will likely be a major boost for Dems as they enter the general election amid concerns about inflation and President Biden’s sagging poll numbers as well as the historic trend of the out-of-power party picking up seats.

The GOP’s 2022 ‘Red Wave’ has hit a wall and is dissipating at a time when it needs to be reaching full strength as a roaring juggernaut.

Daily Beast cheers:

As the 2022 midterms approach, President Biden’s party isn’t the one engaged in the most bitter backbiting for a change.

The point, though, is that we are witnessing a pseudo-internecine civil war in the Republican Party—at a time when a normal party would be cruising to a fairly standard midterm victory for an opposition party. But don’t blame Mitch McConnell or the establishment for acknowledging the problem; this conflict is coming to a head because the voters are rejecting weird or extreme Republican candidates.

The GOP’s problems almost universally stem from a party that has not only tolerated Donald Trump and his MAGA minions, but has largely embraced them. And now, the chickens are coming home to roost. So if you’re a Republican leader, do you call out the crazy and distance yourself from the downfall, or just keep digging your own electoral grave?

It’s lose-lose for the party that is clearly supposed to win.

What Went Wrong?:  The Senate Kerfuffle.

It is one thing to personally think your chances are grim, but when in charge never broadcast those negative opinions to the entire world beforehand.  Every athletic coach and military commander knows that.

However, someone forgot to tell that to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Q&A of his speech to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce:

Never talk down your own team going into the peak of midterm election.

But, does McConnell consider these Senate candidates his team?  It was no secret during his tenure that President Trump and Senator McConnell were never buddy-buddy. Clearly, they did not need to be in order to get things done in Washington during Trump’s Presidency. Or even after, for that matter.

But both men have spent more time attacking each other than criticizing Democrats.

As Business Insider learned:

Former President Donald Trump gloated over a poll identifying Mitch McConnell as the least popular US senator, making the questionable claim that he was to thank.

Trump has attacked McConnell over statements the senator made after the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, which were recently replayed at a public House hearing on the insurrection.

At the Thursday hearing, listeners heard McConnell say the Capitol rioters were “fed lies” and “provoked by the president.” That prompted Trump to call McConnell a “disloyal sleaze bag” on Truth Social the same day.

Trump and McConnell have been feuding since almost the beginning of Trump’s presidency in 2017.

Thus McConnell does not view the 2022 Senate candidates as his people.  Many high-profile Senate candidates owe their candidacies to Trump and not McConnell.  They were not recruited by the NRSC. Thus, they do not adhere to McConnell’s political points of view, and they are not loyal to him.

Image credit: The Daily Beast

Herschel WalkerDr OzJD VanceBlake MastersAdam Laxalt.  All enjoyed popular support during the primaries, but all have struggled to win over moderates, Liberaltarians, or Democrat crossovers in their respective general election races.

Washington Post writes:

If a year ago, someone said that Democratic Senate candidates were leading in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (with comfortable margins in Ohio and Pennsylvania), you might be rightly skeptical. But here we are, less than 100 days from election day, and the Democrats are leading in all three states.

In Ohio, Representative Tim Ryan (D) is ahead of MAGA-compliant JD Vance by a margin of 5 to 12 points in each ballot going back July 3. In Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) is leading TV snake-oil salesman Mehmet Oz by more than eight points. And in Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, the almost certain Democratic nominee, leads incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R). most recent poll Statistically insignificant two scores from Marquette University Law School.

Nate Silver telling, Democrats’ the chances of winning the Senate are now 55 percent. This is up from 47 percent from the June 30 forecast launch. This is up from 40 percent in the retrospective forecast prior to June 1. He credits a Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights, good news for President Biden, slashing gas prices, and changes for some really brutal Republican candidates. He also points to another factor: While COVID is not over, it is becoming a manageable condition for most Americans (thanks to vaccines, boosters, and treatments).

The road to victory for these Democrats—as for Democrats in other competitive races—runs directly through their precarious, hardline opponents. It doesn’t take anything away from candidates like Ryan and Fetterman, whose blue-collar personalities, working-class agendas and down-to-earth delivery demonstrate how Democrats can hold their ground and still reach independents and disaffected Republicans. can reach. Still, if the GOP loses its chance to take back the Senate majority, it will be largely because of its decision to nominate formidable candidates.

McConnell and many of the DC SuperPACs have recently begun pulling support from many of these races, redistributing the money and support elsewhere.  A telltale sign that any remaining optimism in a candidate’s chances have vanished.

Like it or not, McConnell is the top senator in the US Senate, and Trump is still the ‘head’ of the Republican Party until the GOP selects a new nominee at their 2024 Convention in Milwaukee.  For the two-top political leaders to be bickering this opening is both petty and a morale killer.

What Went Wrong?:  Women’s’ Backlash.

While the verdict in Dobbs v. Jackson was a short term victory for Conservatives, it has proven to be a boon politically for the Democrats.

Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court, Kevin Jackson
Image credit: PewResearch.org
New York Times has observed:

About three weeks after the leak, a CNN analyst claimed that “the Republican wave is building fast” heading into the midterm elections. In late May, the highly respected election analysts at the Cook Political Report increased their estimate of how many House seats the GOP would gain. The discussion was not focused on whether the November general election would be a “red wave” but rather just how big of a wave it would be.

But once the actual Dobbs decision came down, everything changed. For many Americans, confronting the loss of abortion rights was different from anticipating it.  This is a moment to throw old political assumptions out the window and to consider that Democrats could buck historic trends this cycle.

Whether the coming elections will be viewed as a red wave, a Roe wave or something in between will be decided by the actions of millions of Americans — especially, it seems, American women. As Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority decision in Dobbs: “Women are not without electoral or political power.”

Democrat, Republican, Kevin JacksonImage credit: PewResearch.org

Women of all ages, demographics, and socioeconomic brackets are breaking from Republicans in support of pro-abortion Democrat candidates.  Solid red states are showing signs of cracking.  The once-proud prolife Republican Party is now seeing candidates scrub their campaign websites and social media of all abortion related topics.

In an odd twist, Republicans were already struggling with women after Uvalde school shooting.

Democrats, not letting a good crisis go to waste, blamed Republican support of the NRA for deaths of 22 children.  Democrats seized on the opportunity to pass gun control legislation, in a push to redefine itself as the ‘pro-family’ party.

Despite Democrats failing on nearly every kitchen-table issues:  economy; gas/energy; food prices; crime; supply chain breakdown; inflation; failing schools; crumbling infrastructure; jobs; student debt.  Yet Republicans are struggling in an election year that should be a runaway.

What Went Wrong?:  Trump.

It has been nearly two years since losing reelection, yet Donald Trump has not left quietly, and nor do his enemies want him to.

Trump, Kevin Jackson
Image credit: Newsweek

Impeachment #2January 6 HearingsRussia Hoax proven.  Prosecutions in New York and GeorgiaMar-A-Lago Raid.  Attaining a Special Master.  We cannot forget or miss the 45th President because he has never left!

Like a prairie fire, Donald Trump is a force of nature.  He has been sucking up the media attention that could be better focused on the litany of midterm GOP candidates.  Unfortunately, his ability to suck the air out of the room tends to affect friend and foe alike.

But Democrats can afford to take the hits from Trump and his allies because of his divisiveness amongst Moderates and Independents.  Trump’s likeability amongst Women has been his Achilles Heel even before the Access Hollywood video.

Wall Street Journal now warns:

Democrats are entering the homestretch before November’s election in better shape than earlier this year, boosted by gains among independent voters, improved views of President Biden and higher voting enthusiasm among abortion-rights supporters.

Before the Supreme Court’s late-June reversal of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, the GOP had been more optimistic about its prospects, in part because the party that doesn’t control the White House typically makes midterm-election gains.

Democrats hold a slight edge over Republicans, 47% to 44%, when voters are asked which party they would support in their congressional district if the election were held today, a lead that is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 points. Republicans had a five-point advantage in March.

The Democratic gains come from increased support among independents, women and younger voters. Black and Hispanic voters, who have traditionally favored Democrats heavily, are also more solidly supportive of the party than they were earlier this year.

Among political independents, typically the key to victory in close elections, more voters now favor a Democratic candidate for Congress than a Republican, 38% to 35%. In March, Republicans led among independents by 12 points.

What Went Wrong?:  Hide N’ Seek.

While most voters believe Republicans are the better choice in handling the current inflation crisis, as well as the economy, and a majority of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.  In fact many Democrats are so confident, even in close races, that several candidates are refusing to debate altogether.

But it’s the Republicans whom ABC News has chosen to blame:

Across nine key battleground states, five debates for major offices have so far been confirmed for the fall, according to an ABC News count.

A bulk of the resistance is coming from Republican candidates who, they say, wish to debate on their own terms. The Republican National Committee voted unanimously at the time to leave the group, which they claimed was biased.

Last April the national arm of the Republican Party walked away from the Commission on Presidential Debates, cutting ties with the general election debate process and dismantling a bipartisan process 30 years in the making.

While that’s not a stunning split from cycles past — for example, Trump’s team in 2020 tried to make demands of what the final presidential debate covered — it’s more than possible that in at least a handful of races pivotal to who holds the balance of power in Washington, such efforts will lead to no formal TV debates at all this fall.

Unlike the Democrats, Republicans cannot employ the ‘hide in the basement’ strategy and expect similar results.  Neither the mainstream media nor the GOP would allow it.

Regardless, we are a month from absentee ballots being sent out, and little more than 60 days from the November election.  It is not too late for Republicans to reverse their fortunes, but the clock is ticking.  The rules of the game are continually changing midstream in real time.

REMEMBER, the media is not on the GOP’s side, ever.

Democrats cut through to the public with issues that worked for them, Republicans must do the same.  There are more engaging issues that Democrats have failed on, and they know it.  But as long as the Left controls the bully pulpit and the megaphone, they are hoping to run out the clock by November.  Republicans need to learn en-masse that Labor Day is no longer the ‘official’ start of the election season, but it’s 4th quarter.

What Went Wrong?:  Political Procrastination.

It would be wise to rollout a 2022 version of the ‘Contract With America’…like right now.

Right Wing, Kevin Jackson, California Times
Image credit: California Times

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