The Final Blow to Republicans in 2022: Warnock’s Georgia Win

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in the Georgia runoff is another loss for the GOP.
  • The Republican Party will end 2022’s promising cycle after failing to meet many of its goals.
  • The GOP will retake control of the House in January, but the majority will be significantly smaller that expected.

It was over with a whimperGeorgia. This is not what the Republican Party expected for 2022. This year was going be a wave year.  

Instead, Sen. Raphael Warnock’s projected runoff winThe result is that Democrats will now have more Senate seats than they did at the start of the cycle. Republicans still won the House. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection. Conservatives fulfilled their decades-long dream to overturn Roe V. Wade. Tuesday’s results add another negative note to the wave that became a ripple, and a party that is poised for a split in an open presidential election.

Herschel Walker’s performance shows that the GOP is still struggling to find candidates that can unite its base without alienating general election voters. Walker is one of many GOP candidates who continue to struggle in rapidly growing suburbs.

Donald Trump would be the perfect Republican retrospective. Trump’s hostile takeover has turned into a popularity contest, in which appeasing the reality television host remains paramount. Former Florida Gov. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was mocked once for saying that the GOP needed a nominee who would “lose the primary to win in the general.” Trump has a tendency of elevating candidates who cannot win primaries without his support, but then loses to vulnerable Democratic opponents.

It’s all about the candidate

Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker, the Georgia Republican Senate nominee, speaks to supporters at a Milton campaign rally on November 21, 20,22.

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images



It’s not a good sign if one of your leaders says you’re frightening voters. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s post-midterm postmortem revealed that some GOP candidates “frightened” independent and moderate Republican votersThis illustrates the party’s struggle for electable alternatives. 

Florida Sen. Rick Scott is the head of Senate GOP’s campaign arm. He also refused to interfere with contested primaries. Trump, on the other hand, showed no hesitation. He actually enjoyed all the attention he received from hopefuls who asked for his blessing.

Trump chose to raise candidates largely according to his mold: inexperienced outsiders. It can be a strength that a candidate does not have a voting record. Congress is becoming more full of legislators who have never held public office before. Inexperience can also put hopefuls under greater scrutiny.

McConnell, along with other establishment leaders, were initially skeptical of Walker. The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner had previously written about the violence he committed toward women. Walker was plagued by unflattering revelations regarding his personal life, including alleged payments for abortive procedures and children previously unknown. Walker denied ever knowing anything about abortions. But the negative headlines took their toll. It’s no surprise that Walker, who was a native son and was well-liked, now has horrible approval ratings.

Still being rocked in suburbs

The suburbs are still a struggle for Republicans. The GOP was optimistic that crime and inflation will bring back the voters they once had. Trump-backed hopefuls have struggled to reach suburban voters, as has been demonstrated by several Republican hopefuls. Walker’s Tuesday performance was a mirror of his November showing. Walker posted impressive numbers in rural Georgia, but failed to keep up in the growing metropolis of Atlanta.




2022 General Embeds

The GOP can’t afford this kind of behavior for the rest of their lives. This is not a problem in one state, one candidate, or even one cycle. As long as educated voters are still being turned off by the party’s policies, margins will need to be made elsewhere. It will be difficult to win in rural areas in many states.

 

Democrats arrived prepared

Raphael Warnock

Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks in Sandy Springs (Ga.) on November 26, 2022.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images



It wasn’t all Republican mistakes. Warnock’s performance was indicative for how Democratic incumbents fared nationally.

Warnock and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, all entered the year with the knowledge that the GOP was coming for their votes. They responded by raising an unbelievable amount of money. They all easily outraised their GOP challenger.

In open seats, the GOP did not fare much better. Pennsylvania Lt. Governor. John Fetterman outspent Republican Mehmet Oz in donations despite Oz spending tens of million of his own money. JD Vance, the author, was so outspent in this contest by Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan that outside Republicans had no choice but to pour tens and millions of dollars into it.

What comes next … 

The GOP has entered an open presidential election. Trump is the only major contender to announce at this point. That could change within weeks. Walker’s defeat only will increase the bah-humbugs for the former president. Too many challengers could make it difficult for Trump to win. Perhaps you can recall the last time this happened.

The presidential election will be the main focus. The GOP has a strong chance of regaining control of the Senate in the 2024 cycle. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, West Virginia, and Jon Tester, Montana, will be the two most threatened incumbents. Democrats are unlikely to have many opportunities to increase their 51-seat majority.  And the incoming head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, has no qualms about wading into primaries — meaning the party leadership could nuke hopefuls that might turn off general election voters. 

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