Following the embarrassment that was the 2022 election, in which Republicans managed to severely underperform despite having all the fundamentals in their favor, I asked one simple question: Are you tired of losing yet?
Ironically, some accused me of being too conservative when I predicted the GOP only getting to 235 seats in the House. Now, the Republican Party might end up with a majority far less than that. The Senate is pretty much a wasteland as well, with Mehmet Oz, despite a strong push down the stretch, not being able to overcome his unfavorables in Pennsylvania. Don Bolduc got trounced in New Hampshire, Georgia is headed to a runoff, and Masters is an underdog as counting continues in Arizona.
Far from the optimism of suggesting that 54 senate seats were on the table, my “low” prediction of winning 51 seats would actually be a minor miracle for Republicans now. I whiffed, not because I was too conservative, but because I was too bullish. That’s an outcome that seemed improbable just a day ago.
What happened on Tuesday can’t be left to lie. There has to be a reckoning, and it’s going to be uncomfortable and challenge some deeply-held priors. Republicans can’t keep running the same play over and over, hoping that the next time things will be different. No one should escape accountability.
And you know what? For a brief moment, it did feel like Republicans were tired of losing. As Christmas approached that year, people started talking about turning the page and doing things differently. There were suggestions of new leadership in the House and Senate along with a serious presidential primary in which the eventual candidate would be made to actually earn their position through rigorous debate.
Unfortunately, that lasted about as long as winter weather in Miami. By the beginning of the year, everything had snapped back into place. Mitch McConnell became the Senate Minority Leader again, Ronna McDaniel won re-election at the RNC again, and Donald Trump was the presumptive nominee again. Quite literally nothing had changed. Perhaps worse, there didn’t even seem to be a conversation about making changes.
Given that, it should come as no surprise that the same warning signs we saw leading up to the 2022 election are flashing red again. On Tuesday evening, Republicans got absolutely blasted in a New Hampshire special election.
BREAKING: Democrat Hal Rafter just won his special election for the New Hampshire House in a landslide
Trump won this district in 2016 and 2020 and tonight a democrat wins it by 12 points
— Reda (@RedaMor_) September 20, 2023
The GOP challenger was James Guzofski, a local pastor who once proclaimed from the pulpit that the prophets told him Trump won the 2020 election. He lost by 12 points in a district that current Republican Gov. Chris Sununu won by 22 points. In other words, this wasn’t some long-shot blue district. This was a district the GOP was supposed to easily compete in, if not be favored to win outright.
Is all this starting to feel familiar yet? Remember in 2022 when Republicans kept losing special election after special election but then yet another poll would come out showing the GOP doing well in the general and all was right with the world again? It seems like most are content to get right back on that ride. You can give my seat away, though.
From where I’m sitting, zero lessons have been learned. We are walking right back into the same buzzsaw that saw us lose one of the most favorable Senate maps in modern history in 2022, and we are doing so by chasing the very same delusions.
How many times have you seen a Republican in the last month swoon over a positive survey from Emerson? Newsflash: Emerson was way off in 2022, especially at the state level. Or what about the Harvard-Harris poll showing Republicans dominating in 2024? Another newsflash: Harvard-Harris way overestimated GOP support in 2022. How are our memories this short?
I may not be that smart, but I’m capable of learning from past mistakes, and I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s backside and suggest this special election result doesn’t matter. Clearly, given what happened in 2022 with special elections, it matters, and if something doesn’t change quickly among the Republican electorate, 2024 is going to be another swift kick in the teeth.