Ideologues think that there’s a right side of history. Conservatives know that there isn’t one.
Elections are a battleground, they’re not inevitable. Like any conflict, they come down to strategy, determination and random chance.
What’s the takeaway now long after the sun has set on a troubled midterm election?
Candidates matter, so do issues. Picking the right candidates is a matter of intangibles. But a good candidate has to connect with enough of the public to win. Republicans ran a whole bunch of high-profile celebrity candidates who couldn’t do that. The assumption that because someone is used to being in the limelight, that they have media experience, that they do well on camera, means that they can connect to voters is a fallacy. Sometimes it gives them an edge. But such assumptions go sideways during a crisis election. And this was a crisis election.
Having the right issues is important. Republicans had a lot of those on their side. The polling backed that up. But they didn’t always have the right candidates to deliver those messages on a national level.
And yet, locally, a lot of Republicans did well. It was the national races where there was more of a struggle because Democrats had poured so many resources into them and because bad choices stymied the electorate.
The polling wasn’t wrong about public outrage, but one thing that both sides tend to miss is the sheer amount of anger, fear and frustration by voters. And how much of it is apolitical.
A whole lot of the voters don’t like politicians right now. Any politicians. And many are casting votes to send a message against whatever attracts their anger right now. Considering the state of the country, that’s understandable. A whole chunk of the electorate doesn’t trust anyone at all.
It’s a challenging landscape with some significant Republican victories. Most notably in Florida. Those wins show what’s possible when candidates and issues come together and mind meld with the public. And when the public believes that you’re getting results.