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Across the Board Bad Night for the Right in America
Instead of making excuses, the Right better fix its problems or risk losing next year.
1. End-to-End Failure of Leadership
Ohioans didn’t lose last night’s election on the radical abortion and pot legalization issues last night; rather, Ohioans lost those issues many times over the last twelve years. When Big Labor successfully repealed the collective bargaining reforms of Senate Bill 5 in November of 2011, Republicans should have analyzed the loss and incorporated the two key lessons learned from that defeat. They didn’t.
What were the key lessons of that defeat? First, don’t overreach against an opponent who has enormously deep pockets of national donors. The overreach was the inclusion of police and firefighters in the collective bargaining reforms, which Wisconsin excluded from their successful collective bargaining reforms. Secondly, don’t overreach in a way that allows your opponents to make emotionally compelling commercials. By including safety personnel, opponents of the reforms used compelling video of firefighters rescuing kids from fires and police dealing with dangerous criminals, with the claim that the reforms would make those actions less safe for our safety personnel.
Twelve years later, Republicans overreached again when they passed a pro-life law that contained no exceptions for rape and incest. Abortion advocates, like Big Labor, have an unlimited pool of money to ensure that babies can be aborted as deep into a woman’s pregnancy as she wants. With those millions, the abortion lobby went to work running commercials about how a young girl would have had to carry a rapist’s child under Ohio’s law given it contained no exceptions. The commercials were compelling. Thus, tonight’s victory for abortion wasn’t a surprise.
Ohioans also lost the election when it elected timid, moderate men in Mike DeWine and Jon Husted. DeWine and Husted wouldn’t know true leadership if it ran over them in a combine. As I’ve written about, they embody the class of career politicians without voices. Their voices only seemed to work when they shut down Ohio’s businesses and schools during the pandemic. Throughout the debate on Ohio’s pro-life law, both men were largely silent and that silence continued through the August special election on the constitutional threshold measure that we needed to win. Only at the last minute did DeWine finally cut a weak television ad. Husted wants to be the next governor, but was AWOL over the last four months. Contrast DeWine's and Husted’s effort from the 30th floor of the Vern Riffe State Office Tower to Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s massive effort traveling all over Virginia to get Virginians to give him a Republican Senate majority. As noted below, Youngkin failed, but at least he barnstormed the state trying.
Is there a contrast with any Republican gubernatorial administration in America in which DeWine-Husted come out looking good? (Hint: nope)
Then Ohioans lost the election when our elected officials continued to employ the consultant class of advisors and the revolving door of staffers who utterly lack so much as a scintilla of strategic thought. To truly win in politics requires playing chess, not checkers. The entire process by which the pro-life law got enacted and defended was amateur hour. From not anticipating the arrival of the Dobbs decision and how the Left would react to it to not getting the constitutional threshold increased pre-Dobbs decision, from the constant "will they, won’t they” put the constitutional threshold measure on the ballot and when to defending the pro-life law, there simply was an inexcusable absence of any strategy. Republicans in Ohio must have cleaned out the supply of checkers games at Cracker Barrel because on issue-after-issue over the last two decades the evidence for strategic thought is nonexistent. As I’ve said before, Ohio Republicans are damn lucky Ohio Democrat candidates are so inept.
Finally, Ohioans lost the election back in August when it failed to get on television first and frequently to define the issue before the Left could make it all about abortion. It shouldn’t have been hard to pass a measure raising the threshold on constitutional amendments to 60% given that the threshold for amending the U.S. Constitution is 67% for all elements. Only in Ohio could Republicans in a +8 Trump lose such a measure soundly. Given that Issue 1 didn’t get close to the 60% threshold, had Republicans been more strategic and passed that measure, the pro-abortion measure would have failed given it only hit 56.6% of the vote.
Two additional notes: the $8 million more in spending by the pro-abortion side made a difference. Republican voters, especially the multi-millionaires and those in the grassroots, need to realize that they are going to have to open their pocketbooks and give money if they want to win and get the type of leaders and wins they say they want. The Left’s voters bleed for their causes. Knocking on doors and emailing/texting friends simply isn’t enough. That is how Ohio gets “leaders” like DeWine and Husted and how it keeps losing big ballot issues.
What the hell has happened to Delaware County, which supported the abortion measure at 59.2% and the pot legalization measure at 55.3%? If Republicans can’t get control in that county, long-term population trends will eventually make Ohio purple then Blue, especially after these recent wins will make Ohio the vice Capital of the Midwest, which will attract more Blue voters to Ohio.
2. In the Long-Term, Pot Legalization Will Impact the Day-to-Day Lives of Ohioans Far More Than Unconstrained Abortion
Hold your horses before getting mad at me. I’m not saying that the killing of babies is okay or less important than stopping potheads. It obviously is not. I am saying that the real life impact of the two issues on Ohioans places pot legalization ahead of abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, roughly 92% of all abortions occur before the 8th week of pregnancy, which means under current Ohio law not one of those abortions were prevented. The pro-life law stops 8% of all abortions, which isn’t insignificant, but I think the average Ohioan thinks the numbers are reversed and the abortionists certainly act like the numbers are reversed. Most pro-life Ohioans likely don’t realize that the debate we just had really centered on a fairly small minority of abortions.
In contrast, with pot legalization passing—and passing by a larger margin than the pro-abortion measure did, the negative consequences of it will impact far more Ohioans and some in tragic ways. See my piece from last week on how pot legalization ruined Denver, Colorado. It also will drive Ohio farther into the ditch.
3. Virginia — Enough Already With the Purple Mumbo-Jumbo. Virginia Is Blue
Not only didn’t Republicans take the Virginia Senate, they lost the Virginia House giving Democrats full control over the legislature. Governor Glenn Youngkin’s much-heralded claim of making Virginia competitive, along with his presidential dreams, are dead in the water. Republicans need to come to terms with the fact that there simply are too many Blue voters in Northern Virginia, mostly bureaucrats, lawyers, and lobbyists sucking off the teat of the federal government, for downstate Red voters to overcome most of the time. Virginia is Blue.
4. Kentucky — A Mixed Bag
A popular incumbent moderate Democrat governor who outspent his Republican opponent by roughly $19 million won by an unimpressive 5.0% in a Red state, as Republicans handily won the other two statewide races. One month ago the polling had the incumbent ahead by 16-points. While it would have been great to win the race, the reality is a $19 million spending advantage is simply too much to expect a win unless the opponent with that spending advantage is embroiled in a scandal. Andy Beshear was not. Thus, I wouldn’t read too much into this outcome.
5. So What Does It All Mean
The Right lost across-the-board last night indicating 2024 might not go as well as the polling indicates currently given how it keeps being outspent and out-hustled by the Left. Instead of making excuses, the Right better fix its problems or risk losing next year when losing could mean the end of America as we know it.
P.S. I want to take second to vent about the Dublin City Schools levy. I long ago gave up trying to fight levies, as the school districts deploy emotional blackmail if a levy fails to ensure passage on the second try. By emotional blackmail, I mean threatening to end extracurricular activities like band and sports, to require pay-to-play fees, and to increase class sizes. They never look at cutting pay and benefits of personnel, which swallow 90%+ of all operational funds. After single-handedly defeating the first attempt of the 2014 school levy, I was told in no uncertain terms that my activities would results in teachers refusing to write college recommendations for my kids. That threat took me out of the game. What irritated me this year is that several teachers not-so-subtly scared my kid by telling the kids during class time that if the levy failed, they’d be redistricted to the least desirable middle school for 8th grade. My son’s anxiety increased noticeably and he asked me about it frequently over the last month. Please explain to me how it is remotely appropriate for a teacher to be talking about a school levy to non-voting minors during class time? To give you an idea about how much he and his friends worried about it after being scared by their teachers, on Election Night as I sat upstairs looking at the results from around the country, as they were gaming, I heard he and his friends talking about whether the levy was passing and checking the results online. They cheered as the early results indicated passage. It was the first question he asked me when he woke up this morning. What freaking 13-year-old gives a rats behind about such things?