What issues were the 2022 midterm elections about?
Were they about inflation? Crime? Abortion? Climate Change? A referendum on Biden? Trump? The open border? Abortion? Republicans being a threat to democracy?
Or, all of the above?
The polling throughout the year, and especially down the home-stretch, indicated that those were some of the issues impacting voters’ opinions.
Paradoxically, however, elections are often decided by what did not happen during an election cycle. The 2022 midterms provided another example of just that.
In our system of elections, there are presidential election years and midterm election years.
They usually unfold quite differently. 2022 was no exception.
During presidential election years, almost uniformly, presidential candidates become the nominee by promising to do things once they are elected. Indeed, it's very hard to win the nomination, let alone attain the presidency, by doing otherwise.
Biden made promises on COVID-19, opening schools, the Keystone XL pipeline, rolling back corporate taxes reductions, and more.
Trump promised to have Keystone approved, undo Barack Obama’s executive orders, save the coal industry, grow the economy — along with a host of other promises.
In the television era, the successful presidential contender often steers, if not dictates, the narrative of the campaign with their promises.
Ronald Reagan promised to tackle the economy through deregulation and tax cuts. That, along with restoring America’s prestige and strength, were the narratives of his proven, successful campaigns.
Both Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were forced to respond to Reagan policy narratives. Subsequently, Reagan proved, once again, that those framing the argument often win the argument.
History also shows that during midterm elections, the president’s party most often loses seats. It's said those elections are referendums on the policy choices of the new or re-elected president.
That's often true. It is also true, however, that rarely has either party campaigned on an agenda during a midterm election — with one notable exception.
That exception, of course, was the "Contract With America."
In 1994, 433 House candidates, spearheaded by then Speaker Newt Gingrich, pledged support for the "Contract."
The Republicans proceeded to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, after 38 years in the minority, partly due to that agenda.
Since that time, Republicans have not tried something similar.
That's in part due to the media hounding Republicans about how evil the Contract was.
Of course, the media declared it evil because it worked.
All of which brings us to the present day.
When Republicans run for Congress, they must battle the opposing Democratic candidate, the national Democratic fundraising machine and the national media.
Considering all of that opposition, Republicans have quite the struggle on their hands.
Recently, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., observed that, in 2022, Republicans underperformed in comparison with moderate Republicans and Independents because of too much negativity on "our side."
He was correct.
To be positive during election cycles, a party must have vision and a plan.
Republicans did not put forth a positive agenda in this election to control that agenda.
Why didn’t they?
Is it because Mitch McConnell made a decision to not do that.
One major lesson from the 2022 midterms should be that Republicans cannot expect to win using the old strategy of just watching Democrats fall.
They have to try harder.
They must offer America a plan. See my article for Newsmax: McConnell, GOP Must Have Plan for Nation to Win 2022.
In 2022, that should have been quite an easy task.
The issues were plainly on the side of Republicans.
They should have, speaking in unison, offered plans to combat crime, the dangers of open borders and fentanyl deaths; cutting back on inflationary spending, firing the 86,000-87,000 new IRS agents, etc.
They didn’t, and they didn't frame or control the debate.
As a result, they lost control of the narrative of the campaign for the midterms.
Without a powerful narrative, during the home-stretch, the Republicans let themselves be defined by Democrats and the media. Concurrently, the GOP allowed itself to become perceived as being dangers to the Republic.
That was the debate as much as anything else in the closing weeks.
Republicans similarly lost the 2006 midterms because they were defined by the media and Democrats over Hurricane Katrina and Iraq, among other issues extant at the time.
Not surprisingly that year, the Republicans also refused to offer voters an agenda, instead choosing to rest on their laurels.
The Republicans lost both the Senate and the House that year.
In the short-term, and in the years ahead, Republicans have to step-up their election year strategies.
If they don’t control the narrative in each and every election, they'll simply hand many offices to Democrats before voting on Election Day even starts.
Tom Del Beccaro is an acclaimed author, speaker and national columnist as well as a radio and television commentator. He also appears on Newsmax TV. Read Tom Del Beccaro's Reports — More Here.
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