Many pre-election polls predicted a red wave of GOP victories in the mid-term elections. They were wrong again. The red ripple was barely enough to rock a canoe. I had referred to the elections as “pivotal.” I was also wrong. Americans may feel like the country is headed in the wrong direction, but I don’t see a course correction coming in the next two years.

It seems like the polls have gotten things wrong a lot lately. Why? Probably because they still depend a lot on surveys and, if you’re like me, you’re reluctant to take the time to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, especially if accompanied by a request for money, or participate in a survey by telephone which always comes at an inconvenient time. Also, people are increasingly concerned with privacy issues.

Over $8.6 billion was spent on mid-term election advertising, almost as much as the $9 billion spent on the 2020 presidential election advertising. Was it really worth it? Think of how that money might have been better spent feeding the hungry or building infrastructure. Now begins the 2024 presidential campaign which will likely set a new record for spending.

The big story, of course, was Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio won re-election by a landslide. Mr. DeSantis established himself as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, prevailing throughout the state, including in areas where Joe Biden won in 2020. He won big, moreover, with Hispanic voters of all backgrounds and national origins, not just Cuban-Americans.

The big loser, on the other hand, was former President Donald Trump. The candidates he backed largely underperformed and won his backing by supporting his delusional claim to have won the 2020 election. Given the low approval rating of President Joe Biden and the fact that about 70% of Americans feel the country is headed in the wrong direction, this was an election that was the GOP’s to lose and they managed to do essentially that.

Women comprise 52% of total voters and they voted for Democrat candidates by 50% to 46% according to an AP VoteCast survey. Pocketbook issues like the cost of living and safety issues like crime were cited most often as their principal concerns but concerns over abortion restrictions certainly influenced their vote as well.

If the GOP learns nothing else from its disappointing performance, it must be the urgent need to get rid of Donald Trump and start to coalesce around a new party leader like Ron DeSantis who can actually lead and knows how to govern. They must avoid another circular firing squad of a nomination process with Trump directing personal attacks against anyone who would dare to disagree with or run against him. If Trump should win the nomination, Republicans will lose in 2024 and they will deserve to.

Trump lost to Joe Biden, a weak and ageing candidate who conducted an anemic campaign from his Delaware basement. What makes Mr. Trump or his backers believe things would be any different in 2024? He barely beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and probably won only because of the last-minute meddling of then-FBI Director James Comey. His own meddling in the 2020 Georgia runoff election cost the GOP control of the Senate. Trump is a loser, and a sore one at that, who lacks the temperament, judgment and communication skills to be president. He is a greater asset to the Democrats than to the Republic Party.

Mr. Trump referred to Mr. DeSantis as Gov. DeSanctimonious. After the governor’s landslide victory, he said, “I don’t know that he’s running (for president). I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.” This is vintage, trash-talking Trump, focused on himself and out to get his enemies as a first priority. If he decides to run again, he will be a millstone around the neck of the GOP and a life preserver for his opponent.

It’s fashionable to say after every election that the people have spoken. They have spoken alright, but with many mixed messages. We are indeed divided, not neatly in two, but rather into several factions increasingly intolerant of each other. We are still in search of a unifier who knows how to lead. Neither President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump will be up to the challenge. People are tired of dysfunctional government and yearn for competence. If the two-party system can’t provide this soon, then a third major party may be needed.

VOL. 112, NO. 46 - Nov. 16, 2022

(2) comments

AmyL

A very astute analysis of the midterms, well done. While I agree the easiest path to course correction would be to dump Trump, I don't think a largely radicalized Republican base will be willing to do it. We shall see. What's truly disheartening is watching the Republican house majority get so excited about Hunter Biden investigations. How does this help the American people deal with inflation, or crime, or the Southern border, things they pretended to be concerned with?

Mj baja

Mr Kelly thank you for actúa admitting trump hurts his own party. Biden is. Whole laptop smarter than you give him credit. But that’s your choice. Be kind and honorable. I’m sure you learned meaning of honorable in military I hope

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