The traditional campaign weekend, Labor Day, is upon us. By most accounts, President Biden’s historically low polls are set to flip control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans. Control of the Senate, however, may be a different matter — especially if Republicans don’t offer to lead this Country.
According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.” In other words, Sen. McConnell is not so sure Republicans will be able to gain the one seat needed to flip the Senate to Republican control.
In the big picture, that is quite a statement. Keep in mind that there are now more reliable red states than blue states. Given that the Senate is comprised of two senators from each state, Republicans have a natural advantage to control the Senate.
For instance, in 2016, Trump won 30 states. In 2020, the states divided equally between Biden and Trump. Only twice have Democrats won over 25 states since 2000.
Obama won 28 in 2008 and just 26 in 2012. Thus, Republicans have had either outright had the majority of Senators since 2015 or have been tied with Democrats (currently).
Winning, however, is not a lock this period, which I call The Divided Era, because crossover voting is becoming more rare — especially when a party does not offer a sensible alternative.
This midterm idelection features 14 Senate races. Six of those races currently look to split evenly among Democrats and Republicans. The remaining eight races are considered the proverbial “toss-ups.”
So, what is Mitch McConnell’s plan for winning the Senate this fall? The answer, so far, is to rely on President Biden's bad polling numbers. That plan, however, is not producing definitive advantage.
Just listen to Mitch McConnell or consider the special House election in New York that the Republican lost despite being favored.
The way for Republicans to win this cycle is to provide leadership — not watch the other party stumble. There are ample issues on which Republicans can campaign.
There are numerous stunning polls these days — and Joe Biden’s poor numbers are only a small portion of them. According to a CBS poll, a stunning 95% view inflation as “Very Important” (79%) or “Somewhat Important” (16%) to them. You can be sure that those 95% are not happy with inflation.
Similarly, in an AP Poll, “92% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats are dissatisfied with the direction of the country.”
Never in this era, where partisan differences are at a high, have voters agreed in such numbers — or in any other election cycle over the last 40 years. Meanwhile, there has been a major shift among Latino voters toward Republicans.
Of course, the economy is at the top of people’s minds and a people so unhappy are looking for answers not politics. If the Republican Party would give them those answers, they could affect a political realignment.
In 1994, given an agenda called the Contract with America, a more happy electorate than today flipped the House of Representatives after 38 years, in favor of Republicans. That was not the only time an agenda resulted in a political upheaval.
During the 1930s, Democrats realigned the American electorate for years to come. The Democrats had a New Deal agenda. For their part, the Republicans had no discernable alternative agenda during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) years. As a result, Democrats won huge majorities in that decade.
On a broader level, the reason presidential candidates tend to win is because they offer American voters an agenda. They run on issues and offer specific platforms. Consider Ronald Reagan, who ran on tax cuts, a strong defense and traditional values. With strong leadership, Reagan affected a realignment that included creating Reagan Democrats.
Bill Clinton also ran on tax cuts (for the middle class), education and healthcare. Bush 43 also ran on tax cuts while his opponent, Al Gore, called them a “risky scheme.” For his part, Trump also ran on cutting taxes and a stronger defense. Simply stated, winners offer winning agendas.
Despite that success, parties during the midterms almost uniformly do not run on an agenda. They rarely make promises to the electorate of what they would do if they were put in power. Instead, they most often rely on the faults of the party in the White House.
While it is true that the Biden’s approval rating is at historic lows, and the economy is historically bad, it will be a colossal, missed opportunity for Senate Republicans if they don’t capitalize on voter sentiment against more big government.
This should be an easy lift fore Republicans.
Their platform can be as simple as:
- Repealing the Democrats’ new IRS army of 87,000 agents,
- Tax reform for small business to promote jobs,
- Ending the runaway Democrat spending that is fueling inflation, and
- Gaining control of our borders and ending the 74,000+ fentanyl deaths each year.
A majority of Americans would support such an agenda, including the much-discussed growing demographics of Latinos and Asian Americans.
In plain terms, if you want someone to follow, you should tell them where you are going. Waiting for the other guy to fall is not a destination nor is it leadership.
With control of the Senate in the balance, now more than ever, Republicans must offer the country responsible leadership.