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Republicans are more than capable of blowing the 2022 midterms

If you don’t believe the Republicans can blow their chances of winning majorities in the House and Senate midterms this year, then you have not paid attention to the past five years of U.S. politics.

At least three factors could reverse the predicted fortune for the GOP. The first would be voter apathy by traditional Republicans, conservatives and people of faith. The second would be — drum roll, please — potential fallout from anything Donald Trump says, does or hints. And the third would be a full-court press by Democrats, aided by some in the mainstream media, to come across as suddenly moderate while metaphorically throwing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as far overboard as possible.

All three factors will happen to some extent. The question is, will some combination of them be enough to hold the Democratic majority in Congress after November?

Apparently Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) main strategy for winning is to avoid mentioning anything that Republicans would do if they regained majority control.      

The quote sometimes attributed to Napoleon — “Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself” — makes sense if one believes the Democrats are failing across the board, but many Republican voters who have been burned before by the GOP leadership still want to hear a plan.

Polls indicate a red wave in November. Maybe so, but what if a substantial number of Republican voters adopt the unyielding position of “Fool me 10 times, shame on you. Try to fool me again and I’m not going to vote.”

Impossible? Trump’s election to the White House in 2016 should remind us all to expect the unexpected. McConnell and other entrenched elites of the Republican Party may think the party’s more traditional voting bloc will never desert them, but they rarely walk in the shoes of working-class Republicans who, like everyone else, are feeling the brutal effects of the pandemic topped by skyrocketing inflation

Just like the entrenched Democratic Party elites, these Republicans live in a bubble of favors, luxury, security, wealth and gold-plated health care plans. They’re used to extravagant fundraisers, five-star resorts and the vacation homes of billionaire donors.

As the election draws nearer, we can assume that many of these voters who have been taken for granted by party leaders will have reached their saturation point regarding empty promises. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), spoke directly to the frustration of conservative voters when he released his “11-Point Plan to Rescue America.” 

Some believe the plan needed more editing and was released too soon, but its “rally around conservative principles” theme, much of it echoed by Trump, managed to elicit the wrath of McConnell and the small army of consultants who are loyal to him. In response to that noise, NRSC communications director and Scott campaign aide Chris Hartline said: “We don’t spend much time worrying about criticisms from anonymous Republican consultants who lost the Senate last cycle and who have gotten rich off maintaining the status quo.”

Indeed, the “McConnell wing” of the GOP might be shocked by how many “traditional” voters stay home in November if they don’t start seeing conservative planks actually nailed into the foundation of the party.

Next, regarding Trump, as Republicans have witnessed the past few years: “The Don giveth, but the Don also taketh away — big time.” Will Trump’s cult of personality bring more Republicans and independents into the voting booth, or will it drive them away (as he did in the 2020 Georgia runoff election and Arizona’s general election by bashing Georgia Republicans, the voting process and the memory of the late John McCain)?

And then we come to what the Democrats can do to try to salvage victory. Some candidates, of course, will try to put as much distance as possible between them and the Biden administration’s failing policies. Biden is flirting with the lowest approval ratings in history, and some see Harris as more out of touch with each passing day. 

If calling out Biden and Harris, or making fun of them — as we saw with the viral video in which Biden turned to shake hands with an invisible person and with “Saturday Night Live” mocking Harris — can save the Democrats’ majority in Congress, you can bet that more liberal pundits and others will be willing to do so as the midterms approach.

Will the Democrats defy the odds and pull off an upset this fall? With 28 weeks to go, it would be delusional to think that a Republican victory is fait accompli.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. His latest book is “The 56: Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All to Sign the Declaration of Independence.”

Tags 2022 midterm elections Biden approval rating Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Republican Party Rick Scott

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Regular the hill posts

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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