The GOP had high hopes for this week’s off-year elections, considering the current state of the country under President Biden’s leadership. With rising prices, a struggling economy, a border crisis, and international instability, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Republicans to score some major victories. However, despite these realities and the dissatisfaction with the Democratic party, the GOP did not come out on top.
In Kentucky, the Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, comfortably won re-election, distancing himself from the national party brand and performing much better than Biden’s approval ratings in the state. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Republican governor, Tate Reeves, won re-election by a slim margin, underperforming his state’s partisan profile. These results should be a red flag for Republicans, considering the strong pro-Trump sentiment in these red states.
In Virginia, the GOP hoped to hold onto their control of the lower legislative chamber and retake the Senate. However, they fell short, losing several assembly seats and only gaining a single Senate seat. Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned hard for the party’s slate of candidates, but they were unable to overcome the Democratic base’s turnout and messaging. Despite Youngkin’s popularity and Biden’s unpopularity, the GOP lost ground in the state.
Youngkin's Rs *did* run strong campaigns in Virginia. Pending mail ballots, they're on track to win every seat that went for Biden by less than 8 points. A lot closer to 2021 than 2020.
But the 2024 savior/we cracked the abortion code hype makes it look like a debacle.
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 8, 2023
The results in Ohio were also disappointing for Republicans, as voters adopted a radical initiative that effectively allows legalized abortion up until the moment of birth. Pro-lifers were outspent and outmaneuvered by the abortion lobby, resulting in a significant change to the state’s constitution.
Overall, while there were scattered victories for Republicans across the country, the GOP shouldn’t have to grasp at straws with Biden’s unpopularity and the pessimistic electorate. The Democratic party seems to have a more committed base, drawing in high-propensity voters, while the Republican base is shifting. Higher turnout and high-profile elections may now benefit Republicans, especially if Trump is on the ballot. However, this is an all-in gamble that could either pay off or extend the losing streak for the GOP.
It’s worth noting that Democrats consistently outspend Republicans in elections, driving their message more aggressively. This, combined with the media’s bias towards the Democratic party, makes it difficult for the GOP to overcome these challenges. Questions about the effectiveness and priorities of the RNC will likely grow louder in light of their recent losses. Despite the polarization of the nation, the GOP will need to reassess their strategy moving forward.