What Moves the Voters Republicans Lost?

In “The Republican Struggle with Defeat,” Conrad Black lays out the situation that the Republican Party confronts after its unexpectedly disastrous midterm elections. Despite Joe Biden’s unpopularity and the range of problems he and his party have caused—from broken borders and inflation to the cultural radicalization of both the military and public education, and debacles abroad—the Democrats did unexpectedly well at the polls. Unlike during the Obama Administration, Biden’s party won the Senate, several governorships, a number of state legislatures, and held its defeats in the House to a minimum.

Black avoids exaggerating the Trump factor in the defeat of Republican candidates. One can point to some worthy Trump picks, including Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Adam Laxalt, Lee Zeldin, and J. D. Vance, even if other picks, such as Herschel Walker and Doug Mastriano, were duds. But there is no convincing evidence that Trump’s support for a candidate was the decisive factor in any person’s defeat. Other circumstances, as Black points out, led to those candidates’ losses. If the United States now “plods on with a one-and-one-half party system” and “veers harder to the left,” we should look elsewhere for the most decisive reasons.

A major cause for the midterm results, argues Black, “is the apparent inability of the Republicans to master the harvested ballot. Trump correctly warned in 2020 this would be used to rig the election, but he was completely inadequate in the counter-measures he took to prevent that.” In my view, one can’t stress enough the games that the Democrats have mastered in changing electoral procedures. From vote-harvesting and voting without personal identification to election outcomes being determined by insecure mail-in ballots sent in more than a month before scheduled in-person voting, these Democratic “reforms” should have met unrelenting Republican resistance. 

Unfortunately, they didn’t, which raises the question: How would the elections in Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania have turned out if these states had the voting laws that are in force in Florida? In Philadelphia precincts, both convicted ballot-counting cheaters and unidentified in-person voters have been shown to skew the election results.

For obvious reasons, Republicans are hesitant about contesting questionable ballots. They quake at the thought of being accused of election denial or suppressing minority votes. This hesitancy puts them at a disadvantage against a radical leftist party that shows no compunctions about cheating or election denial. The fact that Democratic Party organizers and politicians can engage in their legerdemain with unfailing media protection makes them even more brazen. 

The solution to these problems for Republicans is to ignore the righteous accusations and to challenge unwaveringly suspicious ballots. It would make even more sense to get voting to take place on election day and in a precinct station under bipartisan surveillance. It is just plain dumb for conflict-averse Republican leaders to tell their constituency to learn to do mail-in voting months ahead of Election Day. Most Republican voters cast ballots, as they should, in the assigned places on Election Day.

Democratic strategists act differently for transparent reasons: they prefer mail-in ballots for the same reason they oppose voter identification. Democratic operatives can use non-in-person voting to increase their opportunities to cheat and can call in a fixer like Mark Elias to contest any challenge to these arrangements. Thanks to mail-in voting in my state of Pennsylvania, ballots are sent out and submitted many weeks in advance of the election, so elections go on continuously. The greatest amount of mail-in voting happens to coincide with junctures that favor Democrats, e.g., shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs decision. Is this continuing, long-in-advance form of voting the direction in which our elections should be moving? Obviously not! 

Even more problematic for the Republicans are the large voting blocs they are losing by ever larger numbers: 18-to 29-year-old voters, in which the proportion of college students is rising. In November, unmarried women voted 70 percent for the Democrats, and in Pennsylvania they helped significantly in electing the brain-injured radical John Fetterman. More than 70 percent of college students voted, and 63 percent of them broke for the Democrats. Although the Republicans have made modest inroads among black voters and while the Hispanic vote has increased for the GOP by 10 points since 2018, they are losing badly key constituencies. These blocs are mostly on the woke Left and not likely to be won over by appeals to “conservative values.” 

Further, there is no indication that the electorate cares about Democratic scandals and failures. Republican attempts to call attention to such issues or to the damaged brain of our new Pennsylvania senator or to Joe Biden’s obvious decrepitude fall on deaf ears with these voters. Unrestricted abortion rights count for them far more than broken borders or the venality of the Biden family. 

Unless there is a major turnaround in the culture, the Republicans will have to deal with this strong and vocal opposition in future elections. 

About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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