As we write this, there are many races just too close to call. Especially in Arizona, most of the major state races are still up in the air. In part, this is because of the gross incompetence of Maricopa county officials, who have once again embarrassed the state on the national stage.
And in part, it is caused by Arizona turning purple. The land of Goldwater is no more. The voting is just so close in almost every race it suggests the state is roughly evenly divided. The GOP needs to study carefully what has been done successfully in Florida, another state that gets a huge influx of people from other states, that haul their politics with them. If Florida can overcome the import of millions of eastern liberals, so can Arizona. But, it is apparent, that we in this state have a lot of work to do.
However, at the national level, the GOP has suffered major disappointments in Pennsylvania, where a cognitively impaired stroke victim has beaten a popular TV personality. Similar disappointments can be seen in Michigan. However, the true standout for the GOP was the blowout victory in Florida, once a state like Arizona, that teetered back and forth between both parties.
The mid-terms have not turned out to be the Red Wave many had hoped for. Right now, it looks like narrow control of the House is the best we will get. Yes, that is enough to stop most of the Biden agenda, so it is better than before. But that alone is not enough to roll it back or repeal its worst elements and protect the Supreme Court.
The debate will no doubt now turn to the performance of the Trump-endorsed candidates and what appears to be a poor performance.
Some would argue, that if those candidates had won, it was only because of the favorable circumstances of this cycle. Kitchen table issues of crime and inflation favored Republicans they would say. Add to that, the extraordinarily low approval rating of the sitting President, mumbling Joe Biden. So, the Trump candidate would win only because of these favorable conditions.
Now that they appear to be losing, it will be argued that they were so bad, even under these favorable conditions, they could not win thus demonstrating their inferiority.
Perhaps the distinction between Trump-endorsed and MAGA-supporting Republicans should be made. Certainly, those that have argued for a strong border policy, moderate Covid response, and anti-woke legislation (DeSantis, Rubio, and Abbott in Texas), did very well. So it appears that MAGA-supporting candidates can do well, even if not endorsed by Trump. In fact, DeSantis did extraordinarily well, in spite of getting some insults hurled at him by Trump in just the last week or so.
DeSantis appears to us, as the clear winner in this election.
However, The Prickly Pear took the position rather early opposing Trump’s endorsements. We thought it short-circuited the primary election process.
In the primaries, candidates must build coalitions, raise money, develop platforms, and compete. This process usually results in picking the best via the Darwinian nature of politics.
Endorsements give a quick leg up and advantage to a candidate before they have demonstrated they can succeed at the basics. In the case of Trump, so many voters thought that he had been badly mistreated and almost automatically swung their support to his favored pick, without giving it the consideration they might otherwise have.
Indeed, it appears the results of these endorsements did not result in election victory in a climate that should have strongly favored their success.
Thus the separation of MAGA policies versus the personality traits of Trump himself, will likely continue. Some like National Review are saying it is the failure of MAGA positions themselves, but victories in Florida and Texas argue against that.
Our own sense comes from a poll The Prickly Pear has been conducting for weeks among our own readers. In this poll, readers were also able to leave comments.
For the most part, our readers are conservative with libertarian leanings.
They have steadily favored DeSantis over Trump by about a 2:1 margin. There was a slight tilt bank to Trump after the former President’s residence was invaded by the FBI, which could have been a natural “outrage” shift in the survey data. But afterward, it continued to strongly favor DeSantis.
It should be emphasized our survey was a sample of strongly conservative opinions, not necessarily that of the public at large. But it clearly has shown to us that Trump, while admired for his courage and stamina, is regarded by many as a negative. His ego, temperament, and personality, create a negative response among many who support his policies, but simply don’t like the man all that much.
Many seem to admire the man and support his policies, but feel his personality gets in his own way. Clearly, a strong ego is necessary to survive the attacks he has been forced to endure. But with that ego comes tone deafness to some of his failures, especially the poor administrative picks he made while President. For example, he complained bitterly and with justification about the Department of Justice, but he appointed his own Attorney Generals. And, who can forget Anthony Scaramucci, the White House Communications Director that lasted about two days in office but took up permanent residence as a Trump critic on cable television?
Much of Trump’s administration of his office was chaotic and ineffectual.
Many races are yet to be called and we can expect a forensic examination of how this race played out among racial and ethnic groups, the role of the abortion issue and other hot societal questions, and the money and dominant media advantage the Democrats enjoyed. The role of Mitch McConnell and his devious use of Senatorial Election money will also likely draw scrutiny.
But in many national races, and in Arizona in particular, Trump-endorsed candidates have not produced the Red Wave many of us desired. Regardless of the granular details, that seems to be one conclusion we can draw from the election results.
Can MAGA policies prevail without the personality of Trump? We think DeSantis and Greg Abbott have proven they can.