National Politics: ‘Red Wave’ Hits Florida, Stops There

BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) – As the dust settles from Election Day in America, several races are still too close to call but a few key truths are emerging from the electoral faceoff, foremost among them that the Republican “red wave” only hit the shores of Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio handily won the state of Florida by wide margins, including in some heavily Democratic areas such as Miami-Dade County.

“That Dem turnout problem in FL? Yes, it was real – and massive,” Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said. “Luckily for Dems, it didn’t really materialize anywhere else. Between Dems crushing competitive OH/MI/NH/PA/TX House races but dragging in FL/NY, this is the most uneven midterm I’ve ever seen.”

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The race has left Republican strategists evaluating what went wrong and also dealt a blow to former President Donald Trump, who is expected to announce a bid for the White House soon but whose candidates did not fare well Tuesday.

“Turns out those pesky questions about GOP candidate quality over the summer came home to roost in the fall,” said Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies. “With the approval rating of an incumbent Democrat president barely in the 40s, it should have been a banner night for Republican challengers. President Trump will have to answer for his hand-picked candidates who fell on their faces, and it’s a factor that will hang over any future White House bid.”

DeSantis is considered a top GOP contender for the White House in 2024, and Trump already has started attacking him in recent weeks.

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Many top races, from Arizona’s and Oregon’s governors’ race to U.S. Senate races in Wisconsin and Nevada to an array of House races remain too close to call, each with varying rules on absentee and mail-in ballots and when they can be counted.

Fox News projects that Democrats and Republicans each hold 48 seats in the 100-seat Senate, with races in Georgia, Wisconson, Arizona and Nevada to determine who controls the chamber.

Georgia’s U.S. Senate race between Republican Herschel Walker and Democrat Raphael Warnock seems likely headed for a Dec. 6 runoff because neither candidate is likely to surpass 50% of the vote. That race could be the deciding seat after the Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada races are determined.

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Analysts are currently predicting that Republicans will take the U.S. House, though possibly with a smaller margin than they had previously hoped. FiveThirtyEight’s latest update has the House 209-191 in favor of Republicans with 218 seats needed to win the majority.

In Arizona, Republican Blake Masters is trailing Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly, 46.4% to 51.4%, with 69% of the vote reported, according to Real Clear Politics.

Democrat John Fetterman bested Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race. Essentially tied going in, Republicans hoped the nationwide momentum and Fetterman’s health issues would make the race an easier win than polling suggested. Those hopes were frustrated with Fetterman’s victory, as were less realistic hopes that Republicans could even make a run against New York Democrats, who won their Senate and gubernatorial races.

Those Republican hopes were not based on pure wishful thinking, though. Midterm elections during the first term of previous presidents have been opportunities for big wins for the party not in control of the White House.

During Barack Obama’s first term, Republicans picked up more than 60 House seats and six Senate seats in the midterm election. During Donald Trump’s first term, Democrats picked up 41 House seats while losing two Senate seats.

And polling heading into election day suggested Republicans had a sizable edge especially since voters consistently rated the economy as their biggest concern. Real Clear Politics predicted on Monday Republicans would pick up about 31 House seats and two Senate seats.

Republicans’ biggest wins do appear to be in the House, where they appear to have won enough close races to help propel them to the 218 seat majority s need to control the House and block much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Now, let me tell you, you’re out late, but when you wake up tomorrow, we will be in the majority and Nancy Pelosi will be in the minority,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., predicted early Wednesday

Desantis’ win solidified his role as a rising star in the Republican party and rumored presidential candidate for 2024, which could result in a showdown with Trump.

“Winning back the House is a nice consolation prize but cannot paper over the larger disappointment,” Reed said. “The silver lining is the continued success of Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida who has demonstrated the ability to both govern and campaign as a conservative. It’s a roadmap others would be wise to follow.”

By Casey Harper for the Center Square

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