Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy spent a Nov. 29 column complaining that Republicans' poor performance in the midterm elections was being blamed on Donald Trump and right-wing positions on abortion:
Since Election Day 2022, almost everyone has been playing Monday morning quarterback.
Today, it’s my turn.
Republicans seriously underperformed and the establishment/media points the finger at two big factors: Donald Trump and abortion.
Specifically, voters were turned off by former President Trump and they reacted negatively to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
If you look at election results across the nation, neither holds up as the real culprit.
Ruddy went on to cherry-pick elections where candidates who were both pro-Trump and anti-abortion either won or came close to winning (which is not the same thing as winning). Instead, he blamed Republicans for bad messaging:
So, what really happened on Election Day?
I believe the Republicans completely misread the electorate.
The GOP actually believed their own press releases (and yes, polls) and thought voters were just as furious as they were with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and their friends.
Republicans thought everyone was shocked by Biden’s spending policies, outraged over his border crisis, frightful of woke policies like defunding police, and were really angry over inflation.
But they weren’t.
They weren’t because on Election Day the economy was much stronger than the GOP admitted to.
Unemployment is at historic lows of 3.7%. Practically everyone who wants a job has one.
And yes, while the first two negative quarters of 2022 appeared recessionary, the GDP surged in the third quarter by 2.6%.
Inflation isn’t good, but its flipside is that there is a tremendous amount of cash in the economy.
Before COVID-19 started, the Fed reported $1.8 trillion in Americans’ checking accounts. Today, the amount stands at a record $2.3 trillion.
In my book, Biden’s massive COVID-19 stimulus and infrastructure bills ignited inflation. But Republicans did a poor job connecting the dots for voters.
Ruddy ultimately blamed Republican wedge issues like immigration that didn't resonate with voters as usual because the economy isn's as bad as Republicans insisted it was:
All across the nation incumbents—Democrats and Republicans—fared well on Election Day because voters generally liked the status quo.
So, here’s my takeaway from all of this: Republicans who lost the presidential popular vote by 3 million in 2016, by 7 million in 2020, and who saw few sparkles in 2022, need to go back to the drawing board.
The old GOP game plan of playing to a dwindling base of older white voters is a train wreck in progress.
Census data shows 2 million whites over age 50 die every year. These dying voters are being replaced by young millennials who are both multiethnic and progressively left.
Demographics mean pure and simple that Republicans need to offer independent and swing Democrat voters a positive reason to make the switch to them.
If they do that, they will be an unstoppable force in 2024 and beyond.
If they don’t, they risk oblivion.
Of course, abortion is a wedge issue too, but it still works well enough for it to escape blame. Trump, meanwhile, is a walking wedge issue, and while he had a good record of endorsements in Republican primaries (which Newsmax made sure to tell us all about), his endorsement record in the general election was much worse. And given that Ruddy has tied Newsmax's fortunes to being a pro-Trump sycophant, he certainly was not going to blame any election failures on the guy.
UPDATE: Ruddy's assessment that abortion didn't hurt Republican candidates was an echo of a Nov. 13 column by John Gizzi, who similarly cherry-picked races where Republicans won to assert that "abortion was not the deciding factor in the election." He went on to claim that "Republicans clearly underperformed in the 2022 midterms due to such factors as having poor candidates, being outspent by Democrats and running with an economy that is still strong with low unemployment," but did not discuss Trump as a factor.