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2018 Midterms

Disaster in the Desert: Why Republicans Lost

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All the votes are not yet counted but all the information needed to call the Arizona Senate election is in.

Martha McSally has been soundly thumped by communist whackadoodle Krysten Sinema. I did not think it could get worse than John McCain and Jeff Flake, but it did. How did this happen, you ask? Let’s examine some of the more popular theories.

*Fraud. This is the most common explanation on Twitter right now because the process is not well understood. According to Arizona law, ballots must be checked for signatures, and when signatures do not match the ones on file, the voter is contacted and has a chance to come in an verify his or her John Henry. The Democrats have been “curing” these absentees for a couple of weeks. The Republicans just started.

But if anything this process strengthens the process and ensures greater ballot integrity. After all, you have to produce a person to claim that a signature is valid, and that person would be asked to resign a couple of times to verify.

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The reason people think “fraud” is going on is they believe that “new votes are being discovered.” No. These ballots are leftover absentee or “early” ballots that were not turned over by election day. As of now, about 200,000 are outstanding, with perhaps 120,000 or more belonging to Maricopa County. This should have been McSally territory, but an overlay of the maps of Ducey votes and McSally votes shows that there was a significant amount of either ticket splitting or simply not voting for the senate candidates.

Right now, McSally is running about 200,000 votes behind Governor Doug Ducey! That’s an astounding statistic—yet it matches quite closely with the outcomes in Texas and Ohio, where Governor Greg Abbott ran about seven points better than Ted Cruz, and where Mike DeWine ran about eight points better than Jim Renacci.

In sort, GOP governor candidates closed the deal when senate candidates could not. But we will return to this later.

*McSally wasn’t conservative enough. This was more or less the position of Rush Limbaugh today. He’s right that McSally is not very conservative compared to Kelli Ward, but Ward would have lost by 200,000 votes or more. For Rush’s point to be correct, we would have to explain, again, Texas where probably the most conservative senator in the GOP struggled against a well-funded, but oddball Beto O’Rourke. But look at Montana, where a very conservative Trumpian Matt Rosendale was vanquished by the seemingly invincible John Tester. Ideology does not appear to be the motivating factor in Arizona.

In fact, I have received “signals” from the Arizona GOP that “moderate” Republicans were turned off by McSally, whom I would put in the McCain/Flake category. Go figure.

*The national GOP didn’t support McSally. This is hard to believe. While Sinema was certainly better funded, McSally had the benefit of the conservative news channel and the backing of Mike Broomhead and James T. Harris, and she had mountains of PAC money. Indeed, this may well have been the problem.

*My conclusion: McSally is typical of the type of box-checking GOP candidates that are pushed to the fore. They fit all the right categories—a Hispanic woman, such as Lea Marquez Peterson in AZ2 (who lost); a white female fighter pilot; and so on. It is true that the GOP did not support John James in Michigan, but when decisions were made he was in a deep double-digit canyon. Although he dug himself out, he still was soundly defeated by an old white woman.

In other words, the Republicans have been listening to their consultants for way too long—the Cheri Jacobuses, the Steve Schmidts, the Mike Murphys. Ironically, overall the Republicans did better with blacks in several states, and Greg Abbott increased his share of the black vote by 18% and of the Hispanic vote by 1% over his previous election. But here’s the bad news: Abbott’s share of the white vote fell 9%.

The same appears to be the case in Arizona, where Maricopa County—which should be strong Republican territory—expanded Sinema’s lead rather than shrinking it.

So what is the problem? It’s not the voters. Name for me the successful business that trashes its customers and insists they are stupid for not wanting to buy the product.

It’s not the product itself, which I believe is vastly superior to liberalism. Indeed, the fact that most liberal candidates don’t want to debate real issues suggests we by far have the better issues.

There was a money difference, but that in itself is not decisive. It did get Beto closer to Cruz, but he still lost.

No, the GOP desperately needs honest and authentic messaging. McSally’s ads were almost entirely negative—I had more than one person comment that they didn’t know who McSally was from her ads. Most of all, the Republicans are failing to “get” Millennials and how to market to them. As I say, checking the black/woman/Hispanic box will not work. Millennials are interested in “doing good,” and “making the world a better place.” This explains why “jobs” and the “economy” have not bolstered Republicans at either the House or Senate levels: money does not mean the same thing in the same ways to Millennials that it meant to Boomers.

The classic marketing example will explain this: When you go to Home Depot to buy a drill, you really do not want a drill. You want the hole that the drill produces for you. With the “jobs/economy” mantra, Republicans are selling drills. They need to be selling holes, connecting with Millennials about what the money and the jobs will enable them to do—spend more time working at the soup kitchen; have more to donate to charities; be able to volunteer more at your kids’ soccer league.

Republicans can whine about fraud, which did not exist in the case of Arizona, or they can insist candidates are more ideologically pure (like that helped Cruz).

Or they can stop selling drills and start selling holes.

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