Despite a strong challenge by Harmeet Dhillon, on Friday, Ronna McDaniel was reelected to an unprecedented fourth term as the chair of the Republican National Committee. A lot of grassroots conservatives were not happy about that. Jennifer Van Laar of Redstate.com was at the event all week and wrote an excellent report filled with onsite observations and comments, some of which reflect a disturbing disconnect between the GOP elites and the base.
She also has comments from Charlie Kirk about the problems with today’s Republican Party leadership, a response from Harmeet Dhillon, and some good insights on where we go from here and how base conservatives who are fed up with the national party leaders need to pour their energies into local elections. I think we’ve all learned recently just how important those school board and district attorney elections that most people used to ignore really are.
But while many angry Republicans blame the RNC for party losses and the fizzling of the “red wave,” and for not working to gin up maximum voter turnout or ignoring early voting, Matt Vespa at Townhall.com reports that a new analysis of the 2022 election suggests that turnout was not the GOP’s main problem.
Nate Cohn of the New York Times discovered that “in state after state, the final turnout data shows that registered Republicans turned out at a higher rate — and in some places a much higher rate — than registered Democrats, including in many of the states where Republicans were dealt some of their most embarrassing losses." The Republicans lost major races because too many of their own voters split their tickets.
For instance, the Democrats now hold the Senate because in Georgia, uber-liberal Raphael Warnock forced a run-off then defeated Herschel Walker. But the same voters in November gave Republican Gov. Brian Kemp a victory of nearly 8 points over Stacey Abrams. Republican turnout was so strong that any other Republican running besides Walker could have easily survived a loss of 2 percentage points of their vote. And the run-off didn’t have a month of early voting for the Democrats to exploit.
Even in states that were very favorable for Republicans, in some cases, voters split the ticket and voted for Democrats. Why isn’t clear. To me, it seemed obvious that virtually any Republican running would have been better than the alternative, if for no other reason than flipping Congress. Maybe they wanted “stability” (they think Biden is giving us stability?!) over “chaos and disruption,” which is how the media painted any candidates backed by Trump. Or maybe there is enough of an anti-Trump faction in the Republican vote to cost the GOP elections they could otherwise have won. Yes, the party does need to work harder on turnout, embracing early voting and, as much as I hate to say it, even ballot harvesting, if the state has made it legal and the Democrats are doing it (and they’ll be doing it, all right - Republicans can ban it after they get back in power.) But we also need to pick candidates in primaries who can win in general elections.
It’s not something most Republicans want to think about, but it needs to be considered. “Close” only counts in horseshoes, and in the long run, the GOP repeatedly losing elections by 0.5% won’t help save America any more than losing by a landslide will.