An electoral bloodbath. A “red wave.” Even a tsunami.
The prospect of Republicans dominating the midterm elections was widely discussed for months. But the projected surge was more of a ripple as of Wednesday morning, and the finger-pointing began almost immediately.
Conservative politicians and commentators are dejectedly questioning why a Republican sweep failed to materialize and even placing blame on former president Donald Trump, who backed hundreds of candidates in races across the country.
“That is a searing indictment of the Republican Party,” Fox News pundit Marc Thiessen said after listing pivotal issues to voters such as inflation and crime. “That is a searing indictment of the message that we have been sending to the voters. They looked at all of that, and looked at the Republican alternative, and said ‘no thanks.’”
With tight races unfolding across the country, control of Congress still remained in the balance. It appears likely that Republicans will flip the House and may take control of the Senate by a narrow margin, although many races still haven’t been called and it may take days before the full results are official.
But it was clear that Democrats — and by extension President Biden — performed far better than some had expected, prompting instant soul-searching on the right.
The “Republican Party needs to do a really deep introspection look in the mirror right now, because this is an absolute disaster for the Republican Party,” Thiessen said.
“We need to look at who won today. Ron DeSantis [in Florida]. DeWine [in Ohio]. These governors. Kemp [in Georgia], Abbott [in Texas],” continued Thiessen, who also writes a column for the Washington Post. “This is the path to the future. And electing these radical candidates who ran far behind them has put the Republican Party in a terrible position, and voters have left, have indicted the Republican Party.”
Thiessen one week ago:— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 9, 2022
"It is not surprising that many Democrats don’t want Biden to join them on the campaign trail. But Obama may not be the savior they are hoping for. To the contrary, based on this disastrous record, he may be electoral kryptonite." https://t.co/BeUZBz40ne
Thiessen was hardly the only conservative commentator to sound off about the performance of Republicans in the midterms. In a move that quickly garnered attention, Fox ran a story focusing on the ire being directed at Trump over the absence of a resounding victory for Republicans. MSNBC host Chris Hayes retweeted the article early Wednesday, remarking “Well this is interesting.”
Many Fox News hosts and pundits appeared baffled as the results continued to roll in and openly stated their confusion over the mindset of voters.
“This should have been the red wave that even Democratic pundits on other networks were saying was absolutely going to happen,” said Joe Concha, a Fox News contributor. “So is the Republican brand now broken in some level ... where they’re still not trusted that they can govern as effectively either?”
And across the media spectrum, there was consensus that Trump was among the biggest losers of the night. He endorsed roughly 300 candidates ahead of the midterms, and those in battleground races delivered decidedly mixed results.
“What I can tell you is the biggest loser tonight is Donald Trump. His candidates, his handpicked candidates, lost in states Republicans thought they could win,” said Jonathan Karl, chief Washington correspondent for ABC News. He pointed to New Hampshire Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc, who lost decisively to Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.
Now Trump, who has hinted at announcing a third White House bid in Florida as early as next week, faces increasing questions from his base and beyond about whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be better suited to lead the party. A public rift between the two, both considered leading presidential contenders should they enter the race, has been exposed in recent days.
“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a clear message to every Republican voter Tuesday night: My way is the path to a national majority, and former President Donald Trump’s way is the path to future disappointments and continued suffering,” Scott Jennings, a conservative commentator, wrote in a column for CNN.
How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsKY) November 9, 2022
Huge night for DeSantis. No doubt. But also - when does someone say Kemp 2024 is a thing now, too?— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsKY) November 9, 2022
"I think Republicans still ascribe to that man this totemic power that he does not have. He doesn't have some magic power," says @chrislhayes on Donald Trump.— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) November 9, 2022
"Republicans: He is unpopular. He screwed you today. He screwed you." pic.twitter.com/01LJN4Tlxd
Republicans in Congress also acknowledged that the midterms delivered underwhelming results for the party, with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham telling NBC News the elections were “definitely not a Republican wave, that is for darn sure.”
Representative Mayra Flores, a Texas Republican who won her seat in a special election in June, lost her race Tuesday and also concluded that the “RED WAVE did not happen.”
“Republicans and Independents stayed home. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!” tweeted Flores, who closely aligned herself with Trump.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) criticizes Republican campaigns for getting complacent and failing to capitalize on the favorable midterm environment:— The Recount (@therecount) November 9, 2022
“If you’re not out there working, [the red wave] is not gonna be there for you. And that is what we saw happen.” pic.twitter.com/ZvoDyqQxZr
The RED WAVE did not happen. Republicans and Independents stayed home. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores2022) November 9, 2022
See more reactions below:
So dems have a Florida problem, but Republicans have a trump problem That seems harder to solve— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) November 9, 2022
The red wave is not happening. Lots of wasted money by McCarthy.— Adam Kinzinger #fella (@AdamKinzinger) November 9, 2022
He cannot be a happy man tonight.
In addition to the absence of a red wave, Trump wakes up today with two menacing criminal probes no longer shackled by election season and a Congress less poised than expected to run interference for him.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 9, 2022
And the Jan. 6 committee’s report / evidence dump is a month away.
The red wave will actually be the bloodshed that comes from Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump ripping each other to shreds…— Olivia Julianna 🗳 (@0liviajulianna) November 9, 2022
Republicans shot themselves in the foot with their extremism and nutjob candidates. Historically, this should be an easy red wave for them. Clinton lost 60+ seats, Obama 50+, and Trump lost 40 House seats. With inflation, gas prices and disinformation, they should be dominating.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) November 9, 2022