The midterm elections were disappointing. The explanations are annoying and counterproductive.
This result was not simply a rejection of former President Trump and abortion. The problems in the Republican Party are much deeper.
We don’t have all the numbers yet, but it is clear that abortion was part of the problem. Pro-life ballot measures were defeated this year in solidly red states such as Kentucky, Montana and Kansas.
Comparing the 2020 exit polls on the presidential election and 2022 national exit poll on the House races, most of the results are similar. One of the biggest differences is how unmarried women increased their support for the Democrats from 63% in 2020 to 68% in 2022.
In 2022, Republicans won married men (59%), married women (56%), and unmarried men (52%). From 2020 to 2022, Republicans improved their margins from married men by 4 points, married women by 5 points, and unmarried men by 7 points.
In 2022, more voters nationwide thought inflation (31%) was a bigger problem than abortion (27%). The problem was that voters in key swing races thought abortion was more important than the nationwide average.
In U.S. Senate races, a higher percentage of voters thought abortion was the No. 1 issue, than the national average, in Pennsylvania (37%), Arizona (32%) Wisconsin (31%), North Carolina (29%) and Nevada (28%).
The Republicans underperformed in this election in part because they didn’t present a clear alternative to President Biden’s policies on inflation and crime. There is a difference between being an alternative party rather than just being an opposition party.
There are some useful lessons from the British Conservative Party that could help the Republicans.
Since 2008, the Democrats have won three out of the last four presidential elections. Since 2010, the Conservative Party won four out of the last four general elections.
For over 40 years, elections in the United Kingdom have provided Americans with leading indicators into American politics. For example, Margaret Thatcher victory in the 1979 general election showed us that voters in the United Kingdom, and the United States, were tired of the liberal post-war consensus.
In June 2016, Brexit gave us a preview of things to come when the country elected Donald Trump.
On economic issues, there are two types of British conservatives: Thatcherites and one-nation conservatives. From Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1868-1874) until the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the '70s, the Conservative Party was mostly dominated by one-nation conservatives who believed that the government had an obligation to help the less fortunate.
Of the five Conservative British Prime Ministers since 2010, only Liz Truss was a Thatcherite. The rest of them were one-nation conservatives.
Sunak governed as a one-nation conservative when he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Boris Johnson. As the first British prime minister to be both Hindu and non-white, Sunak’s rise shows how far Britain has come.
The first real two-party system in England occurred between the Tories and the Whigs after the restoration of English monarch in 1660 and the Exclusion Bills (1679-1681). King Charles II (1660-1685) was secretly a Catholic and his successor King James II (1685-88) was openly Catholic.
The Tories believed that King James II should be allowed to rule even if he was a Catholic. The Whigs were opposed to King James II.
In 1829, Catholics were allowed to serve in Parliament when Conservative Robert Peel helped pass the Catholic Emancipation Act. Jews were not allowed to serve in Parliament until 1858 and atheists in 1888.
Sunak is a practicing Hindu in a country where 52% of the population did not belong to a religion in 2018. The percentage of Christians in the United Kingdom declined from 66% in 1983 to 38% in 2018.
Sunak is a married man in country where the number of annual marriages has declined, and the number of divorces has skyrocketed. According to the Office of National Statistics, in 1932, there were 307,184 marriages and only 3,894 divorces in England and Wales. By 2011, there were 247,890 marriages and 117,558 divorces.
The best approach for the Republicans is to have a pro-growth Thacherite economic plan along with some “one-nation” conservative policies to heal the divisions in the country.
David Brooks recently wrote, “To his great credit, Trump reinvented the GOP. He destroyed the corporate husk of Reaganism and set the party on the path to being a multiracial, working-class party.”
If Republicans want more of those unmarried women to vote for the Republicans, we need interventionalist policies that will make more men marriageable. Instead of a national abortion ban, Republicans need to help more people make it into the middle class.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.
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