- The Republicans have lost the Senate, and will either lose or narrowly regain the House. How did this history-defying disappointment come about?
Well, first of all, the Republicans will not lose the House. They are likely to end up with a majority of about 220-225 seats, meaning a net pick-up of roughly 7-10 seats. But yes, when realistic projections were for a net pickup of +25 seats, and many were calling for a net pickup of +30-40 seats, the end results are all at once disappointing and informative.
With the Senate, there is simply no question that it came down to candidate quality, and President Trump. Those two elements are not quite as separate as one may at first suspect. Gov. Doug Ducey would have won as a Senate candidate in Arizona but President Trump threatened him if he ran. Gov. Brian Kemp easily won re-election in Georgia and David McCormack would certainly have won in Pennsylvania had he prevailed in the primary over Dr. Mehmet Oz. From Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania, candidates cost us Senate seats – period.
But President Trump’s singular theme on [unproven] election fraud in 2020 had no resonation with voters, and where candidates made that their campaign’s purpose, they lost (House and Senate). When candidates were (a) Good, and (b) Message-focused outside of Trump, they won. It’s really that simple.
- Donald Trump is the elephant in the room, and he has been for the last few years. How should the Republican Party view him now?
Even a Trump critic like me would not suggest running as if all he did as President was bad. He was mistreated by the media, the Russia-gate moment remains an outrageous atrocity, and he did nominate excellent judges and sign into law the Paul Ryan/Kevin Brady tax cut. Those positive elements of his Presidency can be maintained in party messaging without this sycophantic, electorally-destructive fealty to Trump the man, who has proven himself to be a disaster at the ballot box (we have lost the House, the Senate, and the Presidency under his watch), and simply incapable of expanding a coalition needed to win. Even where one likes various policies, they have to view President Trump as someone who undermines the potential for more policy success, period.
- What are the economic implications of this election?
Very little. With gridlock not much will get done, at all, and a GOP majority House assures gridlock. Ironically, the Democrats likely “Manchin-proofed” their Senate lead (assuming they win the run-off in Georgia), but now lost the majority in the House. So fundamentally I don’t think much these midterms are that pertinent to that which our economy faces. The Fed, the direction of inflation, and the labor participation force are the primary factors in our short-term economic prognosis.