Facing tremendous headwinds and weighty history, Democrats fought Republicans to a stunning midterm draw.
The stunning failure for the GOP to “paint the map red” led to Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Tomi Lahren calling for a remake of Republican Party leadership, starting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., and House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
“The people whose job was to win and did not win should go do something else now, we’re speaking specifically of the Republican leadership of the House and the Senate and of the RNC,” Carlson said on his popular cable show Wednesday. “It’s nothing personal, no doubt some of them are nice people, but they took hundreds of millions of dollars to paint the map red and they didn’t.”
“Doesn’t mean they’re evil, doesn’t mean they should be jailed,” he said. “It does mean they shouldn’t be promoted. No one should ever be rewarded for failure. If there’s a truly conservative principle in life, it’s the principle of meritocracy. You reward excellence, you do not reward mediocrity.”
Lahren called for McCarthy to be replaced by the more conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, R-O.H.
I’d personally like to see @Jim_Jordan lead our majority. He’s the real deal.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) November 10, 2022
Many Democrats went into election night dreading how bad their losses could be and pondering how to explain them. By Wednesday, they had quickly shifted into day-after hoping that they could actually maintain a voting majority in the Senate, celebrating victories in key governors’ races, and aware that control of the House was still not declared.
Mainstream Republicans were left grumbling about “candidate quality.” Several candidates refused to concede in races that the Associated Press had called for their opponents.
The final numbers might not be known for weeks. There’s still a chance Republicans could take unified control of Congress, and President Joe Biden’s ambitions for the next two years would instantly shrink. The nation’s fractious political divides remained on vivid display.
But there is no doubt that Republican underperformed in a big way compared to expectations and historic trends. Instead of celebrating a red tsunami on Wednesday, Republicans faced a new round of infighting over Trump’s role in the GOP and the red wave that wasn’t — all amplified by the media.
“Every Republican in America this morning is waking up sick to their stomach,” said Republican strategist David Urban, a former Trump adviser. “Live by Trump, die by Trump.”
That assessment is overheated will play out in the coming weeks, starting next Tuesday, when Trump has promised a “major” announcement. Most available evidence shows he is still the most powerful figure in his party.
Given the political and economic climate, it should not have been difficult for Republicans to make major gains Tuesday.
Polling showed voters were deeply pessimistic about the state of the economy and the direction of the nation. President Biden’s approval ratings were anemic. And history strongly suggested that any party holding the White House would bear the brunt of voter discontent.
Only Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential rival to Trump, scored a resounding victory.
But for Democrats, a could-have-been-worse election night was not the same as a great one.
With several key races still too early to call, the Republican Party may still win control of the House of Representatives for the next two years of Biden’s presidency. And with that, the GOP could block the passage of any meaningful legislation while launching independent investigations — even impeachment proceedings — as needed.
And while the Democrats avoided a political wipeout, some of the places they lost exposed deepening cracks in the former Obama coalition that has fueled their victories for years. It may be weeks or months before the exact extent of those cracks is known, but there is little doubt they are there.
Look no further than south Florida’s Miami-Dade County, an overwhelmingly Hispanic former Democratic stronghold that DeSantis, a Republican, won as he cruised to reelection. Without Miami-Dade, Democrats have little path to future victories in a state that has been a perennial presidential battleground.
“It’s just a reality. There’s a universe of Latinos and African Americans who are voting Republican at a higher level for lots of reasons,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone, whose clients include Biden.
Democrats also lost suburban voters across New York and Virginia. In other districts, their candidates eked out victories in districts Biden had carried easily. They lost Hispanic communities across south Texas. And they lost in working-class regions across the Midwest, including Ohio, where moderate Democrat Tim Ryan failed to defeat Trump-backed Republican JD Vance.
Overall, Democrats struggled to find a clear, compelling message, jumping from abortion to the economy to Social Security and back to abortion.
The Associated Press contributed to this article