The 2022 GOP and Democrat primaries are over, gone, kaput, exhausted, through, done, expended, completed – and whatever other adjective that you might choose to describe their past nature.
Considering the vast amount of time, energy and column space I spent discussing what should and shouldn’t happen in the lead-up to this year’s historic (in terms of importance) federal midterm elections, it’s surprising to realize the primaries are actually done with. The votes in New Hampshire, Delaware and Rhode Island a week ago marked the end of the process, and with no more scheduled primary dates on the calendar, all focus now shifts to November 8.
That’s Election Day. Of course, there is early and absentee balloting offered in most states prior to the second Tuesday in the 11th month, so there’s still much incentive for campaigns to churn out the message and spend their cash now. For Republicans, great emphasis should be placed on defining and labeling Democrat opponents as supporters of the disastrous Biden agenda which amounts to vastly boosted inflation, crime-infested neighborhoods, a massive and uncontrolled flood of illegal aliens and a “woke” cultural movement that includes race baiting and “grooming” young children in deviant sexuality. All bad things.
Nationalizing the election around conservative themes should be a no brainer for conservative candidates, and thankfully, most of the hopefuls who prevailed in the primaries appear to have gotten the unwritten memo. Conservatives and Republicans across the country opted for fighters and disruptors rather than stodgy status quo loving establishment candidates, which provides some hope that things could change in Washington beginning in January.
There’s a host of things we can garner from the local and statewide elections spread over the course of the past half a year (or more). The always insightful W. James Antle III wrote that there are five lessons in particular from this year’s primaries. Antle shared at the Washington Examiner:
“Republicans have been heavily favored for months because President Joe Biden is relatively unpopular and the party in power tends to lose ground in their first midterm election. But the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the easing of gas prices, and Biden’s modest approval rating bump following a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill has made the red wave look less fearsome in recent weeks.
“Now it’s time to take a look back on what we learned in the primaries and see how the outcomes could affect the results in November [:]
(1) Impeachment was bad news for Republicans, especially in the House...
(2) Trump’s endorsements mattered but weren’t infallible...
(3) Democrats often colluded with Trump...
(4) If Republicans don’t retake the Senate, there will be a lot of finger-pointing...
(5) The ‘Squad’ isn’t the tea party — yet...
“Far-left primary challengers have had some success, but they are behind where the tea party was in Republican primaries a decade ago. Biden’s relatively comfortable win in the 2020 presidential primaries over the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ought to have been a warning sign.”
It could be just my impression but it seemed there was a lot more attention devoted to Republican primary contests than the Democrats’ versions this year. This could be because Republicans are, as Antle mentioned, favored to retake the House at the very least and could easily prevail in the senate as well if conditions are right in a handful of states on Election Day.
The focus on the GOP rivalries was in large part driven by the presence of former president Donald Trump in many of them – or at least the ones that mattered the most. Trump wouldn’t even need to lend his name to a race to have an influence on it; mere rumors of him being close to or associated with a particular candidate would send the snoopy establishment media into a frenzy. Democrats used Trump as a battering ram against every Republican – unless the GOPers were like Liz Cheney and recognized to be a turncoat. Then the media cockroaches loved them and even offered to vote for them in open primary states.
Some GOP candidates didn’t disavow Trump at all yet ended up being branded with a tag of lukewarm support for him or tacit opposition to the former president. I personally received hundreds of texts from the Trump camp over the months touting certain candidates, and sometimes this was before he’d made any kind of formal endorsement.
The name Donald Trump wasn’t on any primary ballot, yet there wasn’t a politician in America who attracted more love – and hate – than the lifelong real estate developer and reality TV star. The master manipulator basically used the media to build suspense for his own 2024 announcement – not whether he’s going to run, but when he’ll actually give the go ahead.
The media still acknowledges the magic in Donald Trump’s name, which in their world means clicks and eyeballs. Flip channels on any given night and you’re more likely to find the talking heads discussing Trump (in a negative way, of course) on liberal safe spaces such as MSNBC or CNN or PBS rather than Fox News. As a regular watcher of Tucker Carlson’s nightly program, the fiery conservative host generally avoids dwelling on the former president when there are so many liberal-generated scandals to cover instead.
Nevertheless, Trump’s always there, as Antle mentioned in his first observation on the 2022 primaries. It his piece, Antle reported that only one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump a second time last year is likely to survive into the next Congress. Half of them retired, providing these spinless losers a convenient excuse to bow out before Trump could turn the full force of the MAGA movement against them.
Others, such as Liz Cheney, opted to directly confront the voters with a choice between the “principled” opponents of Trump and the leader of the movement that attracted about 75 million authentic votes in the last presidential election. Not surprisingly, the voters preferred the figurehead of America’s conservative anti-establishment rather than the weaklings who joined with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the “evil party” to bring Trump before the public in another show trial.
Much has been said and written about how Trump and the MAGA movement have replaced or supplanted the old Bush wing of the GOP, but it took the 2022 Republican primary results to confirm the speculated changeover. Put it this way – I doubt there are many people digging through old boxes to try and locate their “Bush-Cheney ‘04” buttons and bumper stickers these days.
But you still see a lot of Trump backers and campaign flags… and a lot of them say “Trump 2024” on them.
I agree with Antle that Trump’s endorsements were valuable but not infallible. I surmised all along that his backing was worth about five to ten points in any particular race – sufficient to turn close contests but not enough to automatically determine them. Contrary to the establishment media’s assertion, conservative voters have minds of their own and don’t like being told what to do by anyone – including Trump.
I don’t mean to keep beating on Liz Cheney (okay, maybe I do), but she lost so badly in Wyoming because voters there saw her as an absentee congresswoman who not only insulted them with her Trump kamikaze mission, she wasn’t doing her job and attending to local interests. Liz’s awful, unapproachable personality didn’t help her cause, either.
Democrats tried helping Cheney and others (Antle’s 3rd point) by dumping money into their campaigns as an affront to Donald Trump. Most of these Republicans were open MAGA supporters, or as Democrats label them, “Election Deniers”. I’ve got news for the billionaires and Democrat brains behind this foolhardy strategy – so-called “Election Deniers” have the evidence on their side whether the media chooses to admit it or not. Go ahead and write checks to Republicans, we’ll take your money – and then win the elections, too.
Congratulations, Democrats! You might’ve just sponsored the next round of Lauren Boeberts, Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Josh Hawleys! May you reap what you’ve sown!
Antle is also correct (point four) that there will be a lot of finger-pointing if Republicans fail to win the senate, but it might not be in the most obvious direction (at Trump). More and more conservatives are getting conserva-woke to the fact that the Washington Republican establishment – a.k.a. Mitch McConnell – has been less than helpful in passing our agenda over the years. If the GOP falls short in the upper chamber this election, it will probably be due to McConnell’s lack of an agenda and his miserly withholding of resources from candidates he didn’t personally choose himself.
McConnell has lasted way beyond his welcome. He’d better hope the GOP has a big year, or he could easily find himself out of a job (the Republican senate Leader’s position, that is).
Antle’s final observation, that the “Squad” isn’t yet the Tea Party, is also correct. The Tea Party wave of 2010 was brought on by the Obama-inspired bailouts in 2009 and because of the passage of Obamacare the next year. The GOP base’s anti-big government unease and frustration had been building from the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency and finally exploded when the Democrats went full Fedzilla and threatened to turn America into a European-style social democracy.
It was a conservative visceral reaction to being stepped on time and again by the elites and led to the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. There’s no similar groundswell of emotion on the Democrat side this time around no matter how much they claim Americans are upset by “climate change” and things like traditional mores and values.
So, “The Squad” didn’t do well with their endorsements. Did anyone even notice?
One way or another it could be said we learned a lot from this year’s primaries. Participation on the Republican side was way up and people are demanding change within the GOP and from their leaders in Washington. It’s not the old Bush GOP any longer and we can only hope the “boat rocker” candidates conservatives selected in the intra-party votes get the chance to make a difference.
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