Who will control Congress after yesterday’s midterm elections remains unclear, but two things are certain: Moderation can pay big electoral dividends, and Donald Trump has become a liability for the Republican Party.
Yes, plenty of extremist candidates just won office. According to The New York Times, more than 200 Republican candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election or flirted with doing so secured victories on Tuesday. In many states, too few voters are queasy enough about the MAGA movement’s attacks on election integrity to keep the deniers out of office. Clearly, extremist candidates who question our democratic institutions retain some electoral viability.
But in practically every state where a more extreme Republican candidate ran alongside a more moderate one for different statewide offices, the more moderate candidate drew a higher share of the vote. For decades, “split-ticket voting” has been on the decline. As American politics became more polarized, fewer voters supported a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another office. But this trend now seems to be reversing. A significant bloc of voters split their ballots on Tuesday, choosing to support Republicans who kept some distance from Trump and punish those who courted the MAGA movement.
The Trump base still has a strong hold over parts of the GOP. But the extremism of many Republican candidates—along with the moderate character of some Democrats in key races—was a principal reason the anticipated “red wave” failed to arrive. [Continue reading…]