Trump’s Role in Walker’s Loss, Florida’s Roadmap for Winning Elections – Top 3 Takeaways – December 8th, 2022
- It’s fair to blame Trump. No, he wasn’t on the ballot this year. Yes, many of his candidates were, including Herschel Walker who in a case of Deja-vu just dropped a special senate election in Georgia ensuring Democrats will have full senate control in January. No, I’m not going to play the game of perceived “good” non-Trump GOP candidates who theoretically would have won close elections that republicans lost across the country vs. perceived “bad” Trump candidates a la, a Walker – that lost. There are many ways I could illustrate the oversimplification of that hypothetical. I’ll choose two for those who need additional convincing. For anyone who wants to specifically talk about candidate quality (or the lack thereof) in Trump’s picks this cycle...answer this one. How does John Fetterman, the worst major party candidate by way of quality I’ve seen run a statewide race in my lifetime, win by 5-points in Pennsylvania? Would you like to attempt to make the case that perhaps a good establishment pick would have perhaps lost by just 4 in that race? It’s clear Pennsylvania voters this cycle were going to vote for a Democrat no matter who or what inanimate object that option was Fetterman wasn’t just a bad candidate. He was awful and yet he’s the next US Senator from PA. For my other example, Georgia. In 2020, Georgia Republican senators, which arrived on the scene prior to Trump being on it, in the case of David Purdue and appointed by popular Republican Governor Brian Kemp in the case of Kelly Loeffler, lost their elections by 1.2% and 2% respectively. Walker’s loss on Tuesday simply appears to be more of the same...which btw, is something that perhaps Trump can be blamed for, but maybe just not the way most will try. Yes, Walker was a highly flawed candidate. No, having a less flawed candidate couldn’t have hurt. However, Georgia’s special senate election wasn’t just more of the same from the 2020 cycle. The voting patterns from the 2020 cycle remained the same. And that’s the bigger story here.
- Democrats continued to play the game the way the game the way is played across the country, taking advantage of vote-by-mail and early voting while Republicans continued to largely ignore it. This included, in the just completed Georgia Senate special election, GOP strongholds in Georgia delaying the start of early voting for the special election until they were past Thanksgiving weekend, while Democrat strongholds in the state opened up for early voting as early as possible. Democrats swamped Republicans in early voting in Georgia which likely proved to be the difference. In my Top 3 Takeaways from October 27th I made two points that proved key to what happened in Florida contrasted with what didn’t across the country. The first one: Here’s what we know. Republicans had a historically good 2020 election cycle with a record number of Republicans elected top to bottom within the state of Florida. This cycle is pacing much better, with Republicans performing 9 points better with votes by mail and 7 points better with early voting. Early turnout suggests the early optimism by Florida’s Republicans is warranted. If these turnout trends continue through Election Day, a historical red wave will play out in Florida. And this one: Here’s the next political trend which needs to change in Florida (and across the country for that matter). Most Republicans waiting until Election Day to vote in person. Your vote will count every bit as much as on Election Day. Anything you’ve ever heard to the contrary is a bunch of poo and not only can I prove it, I have proven it countless times over the years. In a recent analysis for Newsmax, Dick Morris points out that voting early accomplishes two things. It ensures you don’t have an oh crap moment on Election Day that keeps you from being able to vote. But it also accomplishes something else that’s probably even further off your radar. It frees up party operatives from feeling as though they need to expend time and resources on you, to attempt make sure you get out to vote. So, in voting early you’re also allowing your party to focus on getting out the vote with those who might not be as reliable as you. As Morris pointed out, the potential impact of those two factors – those who intend to vote on Election Day but don’t because stuff happened and parties being able to activate less reliable voters is worth up to 5% of the vote. How many super important elections have been decided by 5% or less? So, by getting out to vote now, or as soon as you’re able, you’re potentially helping advance your political preferences this election cycle by even more than just the impact of your vote. Those two points I cited nearly two weeks prior to Election Day are what this cycle came down to. I was able to accurately project a historical red wave election in Florida based on early voting trends and the failure of Republicans in other states to engage similarly almost certainly is what led to Republicans producing a disappointing overall midterm result. As I said in my Takeaways on November 17th...
- Play the game the way the game is played. Republicans dominated early voting in Florida, out voting Democrats, who’d long held the advantage in our state, by 2-1. There are many reasons why a historic Republican win occurred in Florida, including lower turnout by Democrats, but beyond the issues, behind DeSantis’ personal popularity it was the ground game. Republicans turned out to vote early in Florida like they did in no other state and that was the difference between winning and winning a historic victory here. Similar efforts by Republicans in other states would potentially, likely, make the difference between outright loses and wins. Republicans need to stop complaining about the way elections are conducted across the country, and they need to start playing the voting game the way it’s set to be played. Democrats continue to excel at playing the game well nationally, while Republicans continue to complain about mail in ballots being everywhere and extended early voting happening everywhere. Look at what happened in Florida when we stopped complaining and started voting early instead. That model needs to happen everywhere, and the grassroots, infrastructure and preparation need to start now. There’s no substitute for good policy and good candidates with good policy positions. But none of it matters if Republicans across the country continue to pretend that elections only happen on Election Day. It’s time to play the game everywhere the way that it’s played. Notably, in Trump’s 2024 announcement he advanced a policy position of Election Day only voting. Whether there’s validity to the idea or not it’s not happening. Period. Even if elected president again there’s a zero percent chance of that one becoming law. This is where it's fair to blame Trump. His effort in 2020 to encourage Republicans only to vote on Election Day and his recently announced position reinforcing those thoughts continue to act as significant headwinds for Republicans. Just as he needs to leave 2020 behind and look towards the future, he, but more importantly his supporters, need to embrace the way that elections are run across the country and play the game the way the game is played – just as we did in Florida.