Republicans no doubt woke up Wednesday morning incredibly disappointed by last night’s election results. Democratic governor Andy Beshear won re-election in Kentucky, the GOP lost control of the Virginia House of Delegates, and Ohio voters opted to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution. Political consultants and commentators quickly lashed out at the party’s perceived failure: Republicans either talked too much or not enough about abortion and the GOP will never win again with Trump at the top of the ticket or Trump is vital to its success, depending on who you ask.
Abortion obviously mattered Tuesday night; the Ohio referendum results made that clear. You cannot ignore Beshear’s brutal pro-choice TV spot featuring a twelve-year-old rape victim, nor Democrats in Virginia running near-endless YouTube and TV ads fear mongering about a total abortion ban in the days leading up to the election. Virginia Republicans thought they might have solved the post-Roe problem by loudly championing a fifteen-week ban with exceptions for rape and incest, but they’ll have to go back to the drawing board. All Democrats had to do was spend millions calling the GOP liars. After Roe, voters are not inclined to trust the party that spent decades confirming pro-life justices while repeating that abortion was an issue best left to the states. No doubt the GOP needs to figure out what to do with this highly emotional and motivating issue for voters, particularly urban and suburban females.
That being said, everyone needs to take a deep breath.
We should not forget that Georgia governor Brian Kemp won re-election in 2022 just months after signing a six-week abortion ban. The Republican governor in Mississippi, Tate Reeves, won re-election against a relative of Elvis Presley, even though the state was the home of the fifteen-week abortion ban at the heart of the Dobbs decision.
In Kentucky, Attorney General Daniel Cameron managed to strike within five points of Beshear, who enjoys one of the highest popularity ratings of any governor in the country. Abortion is already banned in Kentucky, but Cameron faltered when he initially suggested he would oppose legislation adding exceptions for rape and incest. However, to be fair, Cameron’s campaign got off to a slow start after a hard-fought and expensive primary. He didn’t really take off running until the last couple of weeks, and thanks in part to a re-upped endorsement from President Donald Trump and a nasty racial ad from a progressive PAC, managed to massively close the gap on an incumbent who outspent him and was on track to outrun him by double digits.
It’s also key to remember that winning a Republican trifecta in Virginia was always a massive statistical improbability. Heck, Governor Youngkin’s 2021 gubernatorial win was a major upset! In August, Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC told me that they knew holding the House of Delegates and taking a majority in the Senate this time around was going to be an uphill battle, and the popularity of the governor is the only reason they even thought it was possible. If anything, Virginia should be a warning to properly manage expectations. With all of the talk surrounding Youngkin’s possible presidential ambitions and his fundraising prowess, many of us forgot that Virginia is still a blue state. Dave Weigel of Semafor laid the results out quite nicely: “Pending mail ballots, [Virginia Republicans are] on track to win every seat that went for Biden by less than eight points. A lot closer to 2021 than 2020. But the 2024 savior/we cracked the abortion code hype makes it look like a debacle.”
None of this is to suggest that Republicans don’t need to do any soul-searching. Losses are only valuable when you learn from them. But this is not the red-wave-turned-red-ripple of 2022. Getting too doom-and-gloom about the results may cause the GOP to take the wrong lessons away from Tuesday’s disappointment. That would be almost as bad as changing nothing.
On our radar
BIDENS SUBPOENAED President Joe Biden’s ne’er-do-well son Hunter and brother James will be subpoenaed as part of the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry into whether President Biden personally benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings.
HILL-ARIOUS Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton compared Trump to Hitler during a Wednesday appearance on The View. “People would get legitimately elected, and then they would try to do away with elections, and do away with opposition, and do away with a free press … Hitler was duly elected,” Clinton said.
SOROS PROSECUTOR OUSTED Buta Biberaj, the progressive prosecutor in Loudoun County, Virginia who tried to jail a father for protesting at a school board meeting after his daughter was sexually assaulted, lost her re-election bid Tuesday night.
Tsk Tsk Tlaib
The House of Representatives voted 234-188 to censure Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday.
Georgia representative Rich McCormick introduced the censure motion following a series of controversial comments from the Palestinian-American, including those accusing Israel of committing “genocide” and using the anti-Israel slogan “from the river to the sea.” A similar motion introduced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene failed last week, but twenty-two Democrats were apparently happy to jump on board with the effort so long as it was led by a different face.
The symbolic measure accuses the congresswoman of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.” Earlier that day, Tlaib defended herself on the House floor, claiming that her comments have been solely directed at the Israeli government: “The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent.” House Republicans and the most vocal pro-Israel wing of the Democratic Party, though, are not buying it.
–Juan P. Villasmil
Ohio goes for that bamba
Weed evangelists in Ohio can hold in a puff of relief today as the state became the twenty-fourth state to legalize recreational marijuana, continuing a trend of midwestern states embracing that sticky icky.
It wasn’t particularly close either, with Yes grabbing 57 percent to No’s 43 percent. Interestingly, the measure passed by nearly identical margins as another issue on the ballot: enshrining abortion in the Ohio constitution, with Yes at 56.6 percent and No at 43.4 percent.
The new law will allow adults over the age of twenty-one to buy, possess or grow up to 2.5 ounces of the ganja. Does this mean Ohio is becoming a new libertarian stronghold? Perhaps. Just eight years ago, Ohioans soundly defeated a separate legalization effort. Now, that dank ham can flow freely in the Buckeye State. We know how our friends at Reason will be celebrating.