Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.
Greg Nash

My almost 50 years of experience in politics has taught me that 11 months can be a lifetime in this business. What seems inevitable today can vanish overnight.

 

With that caveat — and unless Republicans defeat themselves — every reliable political indicator today points toward overwhelming Republican victories in the 2022 midterm elections.

President Biden’s poll numbers are at almost record lows in every conceivable category. Vice President Kamala Harris’s numbers are even worse. Inflation is rising more rapidly than any time in three decades. Violent crime is steadily increasing, especially in our inner cities.  

The 2021 off-year elections were an across-the-board disaster for Democrats — not just losing the three top statewide offices in Virginia but being routed as well in the suburbs in several states, which had been going progressively blue, especially during the Trump years.

Nassau County, N.Y., where I live, is a prime example of the steep declines suffered by the Democratic Party.  

Located just outside New York City, with a population of almost 1.4 million, Nassau grew rapidly after World War II and is generally considered to be the nation’s first suburb. Overwhelmingly Republican for many years, it slowly began to tilt to the Democrats in the 1990s until Republicans there took deep hits during the Trump years. Democrats Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden carried Nassau in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Going into this year’s elections, Democrats held three of the top four countywide offices and controlled local municipalities within the county including the town of North Hempstead, with a population of more than a quarter-million, and the city of Glen Cove, where the Democrats held the mayor’s office and all six council seats. 

Yet, on Election Day earlier this month, Republicans once again swept Nassau — not just winning back the countywide positions of county executive, district attorney and comptroller, but also electing the North Hempstead supervisor for the first time since 1989 and winning the mayor’s office and five of six council seats in Glen Cove. The issues in all of these races were taxes, crime and Joe Biden. 

The results were similar in neighboring Suffolk County, where Republicans won back the county legislature for the first time in years and defeated a popular Democratic district attorney.

If the suburbs are the new national political battleground, Republicans seemingly could not be better positioned for the 2022 midterms — unless they take their focus off of Biden, form circular firing squads, and attempt intra-party purges similar to those in which Democrats have engaged the past year. 

Democrats want to make the next race about Donald Trump instead of about Biden and congressional Democrats, which makes sense since Trump polls in most opinion samplings only marginally better than Biden. 

Against that backdrop, it would be political malpractice to follow the crazy idea of Mark Meadows, former Republican congressman from North Carolina and Trump’s last chief of staff, that Republicans should support Trump for the next Speaker of the House. If they were to do so, Republicans would be lucky to break even in next year’s midterms instead of picking up an expected 60 to 70 House seats and taking back control of the Senate, as many political analysts now predict will happen.  

Similarly, it is madness for Trump and his supporters to be threatening primaries against House Republicans who voted for an Infrastructure bill which benefits their very competitive districts — and which passed the Senate with 69 votes, thanks to the support of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other conservative senators such as Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).  

To win and to be able to govern, Republicans must be a national party — not an ideological monolith.  

It is time for all Republicans to follow the Reagan admonition to not speak ill of other Republicans. If Republicans are united and focus on the core issues of inflation, crime and Biden’s incompetency, they have a golden opportunity to achieve historic victories for their party and for the nation in 2022. If not, Republicans will have no one to blame but their own ideological purists. 

Peter King retired in January as the U.S. representative of New York’s 2nd Congressional District. He served 28 years in Congress, including as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Follow him on Twitter @RepPeteKing.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Joe Biden Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell Nassau County, New York Political parties in the United States Politics of the United States Republican Party Republicanism in the United States Roger Wicker Roy Blunt United States presidential election Vice Presidents of the United States

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