Two Reasons Why the Red Wave Wasn’t… and What Republicans can do about It

By J Robert Smith

  • Nov. 24, 2022
  • 3-min read

There’s more than a couple of reasons why the expected Red Wave didn’t happen. Here, we’re referring specifically to congressional elections. But there are two reasons that aren’t very sexy but most definitely blunted Republican gains. One is early voting and mail-in balloting.

The second, which pertains to U.S. House contests, is redistricting. Republicans actually won about 6 million more votes in House elections in 2022 than did Democrats. The trouble was that district lines were drawn in such ways that diluted GOP strengths.

Redistricting is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. It isn’t a sexy topic. In fact, it’s sort of wonky, but in redrawing U.S. House district lines in 2021, Republicans were either out maneuvered by Democrats or victims of “redistricting commissions.” That depends on how states decide the every ten years reapportionment of House seats. Democrats were definitely aggressive in New York and New Mexico, drawing lines that lopsidedly favored them. Surprisingly, the New York Supreme Court struck down the Democrats’ grossly gerrymandered map, replacing it with a map that actually allowed Republicans to gain seats. No such thing happened in New Mexico, where Democrats drew lines that cost the GOP the one seat it held.

We can add that the U.S. Census, which was conducted in 2020, undercounted population gains in some red states, while overcounting population in some blue states. That’s more than a little suspicious.

There’s no point into getting deep into the weeds about redistricting. The next round of redistricting happens in 2030, though the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Civil Rights case about Alabama’s lines being racially discriminatory in early 2023. Nonetheless, the cake is baked.

Mail-in balloting is another matter. Frankly, the GOP strategy of urging its voters to vote on Election Day and eschew voting early or by mail, fell short. Democrats began their early vote and mail-in balloting drives from the get-go. While Republicans can and should seek reforms that limit early voting and mail-in balloting, in too many states it’s here to stay. Achieving outright repeals may happen in the reddest of red states, but it won’t happen in all red states, purple states, and, of course, blue states, where Democrats greatly benefit.

Red states Florida and Texas, notably, implemented sensible, enforceable limits on mail-in balloting and early voting. Was their fraud in those states? No doubt – as there is fraud in every state in every election since the Republic was founded. But did fraud in those two states impact outcomes? No, because strict enforcement minimized fraudulent impact.

The same was the case in purplish Georgia, where even moderate election reforms and beefed up enforcement kept fraud from becoming the issue it was in 2020.

In Arizona, was there fraud enough to change the outcome in favor of the absurd Nanny State candidate Katie Hobbs? Perhaps, but there was a helluva lot of incompetence and negligence on the part of Maricopa County election officials that doubtlessly cost Kari Lake critical votes. As of this writing, Lake is challenging the election results, as well she should.

Nonetheless, Republicans and conservatives can gnash their teeth and shake fists at Heaven in anger and frustration about the effects of mail-in balloting and early voting on election outcomes. Or they can accept the hard reality of both, push for smart legal limits on both, better oversight and enforcement, and build programs of their own to generate ballots as early as state laws permit. Not only must they build programs, but build them to be more efficient and effective than the Democrats have done. We’re not talking about cheating, but leveraging the system to the max. Not doing so consigns Republicans to more disappointments like 2020 and 2022.

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