Good and bad cuts in ‘Candidate Quality’

This is the day after the midterms. In the Before Times, we would have expected full results. The picture of the new “defending democracy” world is still not clear. It involves months of voting, mailing ballots and breaking voting machines. This is unacceptable, as Micah Meadowcroft reminds today. Election Day should be an occasion when voters bring their ID to the polling station. As a souvenir, you’ll also receive a sticker.

We do know that the red wave we expected didn’t happen in an election year where Democrats were struggling. Many blame candidate quality and particularly the low quality of Trump-endorsed candidates. Tim Carney effectively makes this point in his Washington Examiner.


While there is a lot of noise from these midterm election results, and some unresolved races, this much is certain: Republicans will control the Senate next Year if they continue to nominate good candidates. In many states, Republicans nominated people who were clearly unfit to serve as candidates, a typical sign of the Tea Party to Trump Era.

Pennsylvania’s senate defeat to John Fetterman, a post-stroke John Fetterman, was definitely winnable by a candidate better than the New Jersey celebrity doctor. Georgia is one of those unsettling races. But Herschel Walker seemed determined to stop his campaign at every opportunity. This was reinforced by Brian Kemp’s win in the state’s governor’s race. It will be difficult to not blame Trump for supporting bad candidates, even if Oz and Walker ultimately cost the GOP the Senate.

Yet, those who want to move the GOP beyond the pre-2016 failed consensus must also consider the Trump wins. It is hard to believe that J.D., the Senator-elect, will win. Vance wins the GOP nomination in Ohio with Trump’s support. We shouldn’t overlook the Trump effect in yesterday’s general election. Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points in 2020. Vance appears set to win his seat in the Senate by a slightly smaller margin than Republican Mike DeWine’s win for the governor’s race. Did Trump manage to get Vance across the finish line in a state where the 45 th president remains wildly popular?

Arizona is witnessing a similar dynamic. Blake Masters, like Vance is one of this year’s most interesting candidates. His nomination was secured thanks to Trump’s endorsement. He’s still behind in slow-counting general elections, which is not helped by widespread voting machine issues. But it’s possible that the popularity and endorsements of 45 and Trump-endorsed Kari lake will be enough for us to have a Senator Masters. The same story for Joe Kent in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. We could continue.

Trump’s unorthodoxy in style and policy was the reason he was able to break down the failed GOP consensus. This has been the Trump era’s double-edged sword. This enables the Trump era to deliver huge wins that are unimaginable for a typical politician as well as making some very difficult decisions. Brett Kavanaugh would be supported by John Bolton, who also defended the Iraq war and offered foreign policy advice.

Trump’s endorsements after his presidency have been in line with the same pattern. He is a man who loves to surprise and Vance Masters, Walker, Oz, and Oz all fit this mold for good and bad.

It’s possible that Trump-endorsed candidates could cost Republicans the Senate. For those of us who are interested in changing the Republican Party, the interesting question is: Would you prefer a Senate majority made up of establishment Republicans from Ohio, Arizona and Pennsylvania–or a minority composed of Senator Masters and Senator Vance, rising stars determined to move the Republican Party in the right direction? Can we have the former without a Trump-led GOP.

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