Neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania experienced two very different midterm election outcome disappointments. In both cases, the blame for the terrible results for New York Democrats and Pennsylvania Republicans is squarely on the parties’ themselves.
Republicans blew a golden opportunity to take back the governorship of swing-state Pennsylvania while also retaining its Senate seat. New York, the bluest of blue states, saw Democrats botch their huge advantage and contribute more than any other state to turn the U.S. House of Representatives Republican.
The Pennsylvania GOP is conducting a completely pointless post-mortem, paying over $1 million to outside political strategists to determine what happened and to propose solutions to prevent it happening again. It does not take a team of political pundits to understand what happened. Simply put, don’t nominate election-denying, Trump-loving candidates like extremist Doug Mastriano for governor and a TV snake oil promoter from out-of-state, Mehmet Oz, for senator. Instead, put up mainstream candidates that don’t offend the large and increasing number of voters disgusted by Trump’s chaos and indecency. If Pennsylvania Republicans behaved like a normal political party, it would cost them nothing.
The New York case is more complicated. Without diving too much into the weeds, here is what happened: Democrats’ death wish first manifested itself when the party clearly overreached. Rejecting the so-called independent redistricting commission’s maps, their legislative super-majorities redrew the redistricting maps, despite both court decisions and numerous warnings that, in attempting essentially to clear the map of Republicans, they went too far. When the courts shot down the maps and substituted their own, New York was left with perhaps the most competitive congressional districts in the nation. Republicans, consequently, flipped four seats and took the House.
In New York, it helped immensely that Democrats also ran lackluster campaigns, the worst of which was in the Third District where Republican George Santos (assuming that’s his real name) won a contest he should have lost by double digits. There was no excuse for bungling this race, especially given that Democrats had two shots at uncovering Santos’s voluminous lies since this was his second attempt at running for Congress. They would not even have had to exert themselves to discover that Santos is a total fraud of Trumpian proportions, had they only paid any attention to a local newspaper that did the work for them.
New York Democrats are now stuck with a terrible redistricting hand for the remainder of the decade. They could, however, divest themselves of the monumentally incompetent party functionaries that led them down the rabbit hole to electoral ruin. And they could vastly improve the quality of their opposition research, assuming that they bothered to perform such analysis in the first place.
Now both Pennsylvania Republicans and New York Democrats must live with the consequences of their arrogance and hubris. Sadly, in the New York case, the impact of the Democrats’ mess-up is nationwide.
January 20, 2023