Sarah Elliott is Chair of Republicans Overseas UK.
“The number one concern… was defunding the police. We need not ever use the words “socialist” or “socialism” again. And if we classify Tuesday as a success, from a congressional standpoint, we are going to get torn apart in 2022.”
These were the impassioned words said by Democratic House member, Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), on the Democratic House caucus post-mortem election call on November 5. Not exactly the high-fiving debrief you would expect after keeping control of the US House and beating one’s favourite foe, Donald Trump.
It’s because it wasn’t a slam-dunk victory night for the Democrats. There was no blue wave in the legislative races of the House of Representatives or the Senate. The best they achieved on election night 2020 was a Democratic president in the White House, but one who will find it exceptionally difficult to pass an agenda.
The GOP actually had a great night for the legacy of the party, future elections and solidifying the electability of conservative principles.
In the US House of Representatives, Republicans flipped 14 Democratic-held seats, did not lose a single incumbent seat, and only lost three races, with a couple still too close to call but the Republican is leading. The Democrats, who came into this election cycle with a lead of 36 seats (after having won 40 in the 2018 midterms), have only a narrow lead of five seats, all within the taking for the Republicans come the 2022 midterms, when it’s typical for the legislature to switch to the opposite party of the White House.
In the Senate, the Republicans were defending seats in more Democratic-leaning states, where most analysts felt they would lose their majority. But tight races such as Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Tillis in North Carolina and Susan Collins in Maine all went to the GOP. Senators Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell survived a tremendous fundraising blitz, each being outspent by $30 million, and yet they won decisively. And now with the two run-off Senate races in Georgia, the Republicans have a strong shot at maintaining control of the Senate.
For Republicans, the best case scenario in a Biden administration is to control the legislature and paralyse him as president.
What should also be noted is that the Republicans maintained 60 per cent of the state legislature races. It’s the first time since 1946 so few chambers have switched hands, and this is massively important when it comes to the redistricting of congressional districts, which will take place in the next year or so. With Republicans in control of most state legislatures, it means that they will be responsible for determining the boundaries for 175 districts, whereas the Democrats only 47. This has long-term consequences on future congressional contests.
Thus, this sets up the 2022 midterms nicely, especially since the Grand Old Party is not as white, male and stale.
The incoming House GOP class is the most diverse freshman class for the Republicans in history. The majority of those who won are female, there are 18 (at least) new GOP women members, and every seat flipped is by either a woman, minority candidate, and or a veteran. Six to nine of them will be a BAME representative. There will be a total of 28 GOP women in the US House and nine GOP women Senators.
All of this reflects a concentrated effort by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN), instigated by Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY). After the Democrats dramatically decreased the number of Republican women in Congress from 23 to 13 in 2018, and with the rise of “The Squad,” the very progressive-Left group of four House Democratic women (Omar, Talib, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley), it was a wake-up call for Republicans.
Stefanik led the efforts in the 2018 midterms for female recruitment, and convinced 100 female candidates to run, but only one candidate made it through the primary. This motivated her to push the NRCC to get involved in the primary process, and make recruiting diverse women a priority for the party.
McCarthy followed her advice, and in an unprecedented move endorsed eleven female candidates during the primaries. The 2020 cycle saw ninety-four female GOP candidates through to the general election.
Political action committees (PACs) were set up to ensure the funding was there from the primary such as E-PAC, Winning for Women, RightNOW PAC and View PAC.
Now entering the halls of Congress in January are a Ukranian immigrant, the first female graduate from the military academy – the Citadel, single mothers, Greek and Cuban Americans, an Iranian American, and two South Korean immigrants. All Republican and all women.
Beth Van Duyane, a single mother of two, won her Dallas, Texas suburb seat even though it voted for Biden, and she was outspent by $1.5 million.
Maria Elvira Salazar, a former Spanish television broadcaster and daughter of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba, flipped the Miami seat filled by Democratic-establishment representative Donna Shalala. Clinton won the district in 2016 by 20 points. Salazar ran on an anti-socialist and pro-America message.
Tony Gonzales, a Navy veteran, narrowly won a recount in the Texas-Mexican border district Texas-23, replacing the retiring African-American GOP representative Will Hurd. This district voted for Clinton in 2016, but with President Trump’s and Hurd’s endorsement, squeaked by with a win, despite being outspent by $4.2 million.
Young Kim and Michelle Steel are the first South Korean immigrants to serve in the US Congress, both women and both hail from California.
In California, the GOP won back four of the seven seats they lost to the Democrats in 2018. Representative elect Mike Garcia, a former Navy pilot and son of a Mexican immigrant, won a seat just north of Los Angeles, and David Valadao, a dairy farmer, reclaimed his seat that he lost two years prior.
These candidates were not just successful because of their stories, background, sex or ethnicities, but because of their message too. They are all staunchly conservative, anti-abortion, for securing the border, anti-socialist, for lowering taxes, and for keeping small businesses open during the pandemic. These messages worked with independents and Democrats alike.
When the Democratic message is “I’m not Trump,” to defund the police, keep the borders open and allow anyone in without due process, permit abortion up to the 38th-week, look at American history through race only, cancel anyone’s livelihood if they disagree with you, dissolve American energy independence, upend the American healthcare industry to a single-payer one, and not offer any new ideas except to tax, spend and keep your businesses shut, Democrats cannot expect to win. This is a good thing. These are bad ideas.
America is not a socialist country. We value our private property, our businesses, our country’s constitution, and our freedom. How refreshing to still see these values are appealing and electable across the party lines.
As Representative Spanberger said, socialism and defunding the police should never be uttered again. May that be the case and may all politicians take note.