Why didn’t the red wave happen? – WSJ Podcasts

Why didn’t the red wave happen? – WSJ Podcasts

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Speaker 1: With Tuesday’s election approaching, Republicans had high hopes.

Speaker 2: The Republicans are starting to get dizzy.

Speaker 1: This is our colleague (inaudible) Hughes, who covers Congress.

Speaker 2: Republicans can feel the building momentum. Voters might feel angry about inflation, and they thought this would be a hurricane. It was close to orgasm.

Speaker 1: So like a red tsunami?

Speaker 2: A red tsunami.

Speaker 3: We will see such a red tsunami on Tuesday.

Speaker 4: The red tsunami we’ve been anticipating for months.

Speaker 5: A red tsunami.

Speaker 6: A red tsunami.

Speaker 7: Full of a red tsunami.

Speaker 8: Not just a red wave, but a red tsunami.

Speaker 1: But that’s not what happened. Last night, (inaudible) he went to the hotel where House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was planning to celebrate Republican victories.

Speaker 2: Kevin McCarthy had planned to take a victory tour last night in a large ballroom in a downtown Washington, DC hotel. There was a big banquet set up, great appetizers, plenty of drinks for adults. It ended up not being a festive occasion. The hall was almost empty. This wasn’t a party it was more like a wakeup.

Speaker 1: While the Republicans can still control both houses of Congress, that’s a far cry from predictions of a red tsunami.

Speaker 2: The question is why and what, by all accounts, has been the best political environment for Republicans in decades? Republicans may get only minor gains in the House of Representatives and may not win the Senate at all.

Speaker 1: Welcome to the magazine, our show about money, business, and power. I’m Kate Linbaugh. It’s Wednesday the ninth of November. Coming into the show, why didn’t the red wave happen. So we’re talking now at about 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday. What are the consequences when it comes to Congress?

Speaker 2: We don’t know yet the results of the Senate. In the House, not enough races have been called to determine the winning party. While the possibility is that the Republicans will win a majority in the House of Representatives. At this point, that majority is looking to be very, very small with a maximum of 15 seats. Below twenty that Kevin McCarthy himself identified as a wave and maybe just a few seats.

First speaker: Have you spoken to your Republican sources, what do they say and what does their voice sound like?

Speaker 2: The Republicans are chopped. They are shell shocked. Some of them have barely hidden anger toward fellow Republicans who blame them for this outcome. It’s a very turbulent time in the Republican convention, to say the least.

Speaker 1: The president’s party often loses seats in Congress in midterm elections, and sometimes it loses a lot of seats. How do Republicans’ gains so far stack up against those previous elections?

Speaker Two: Voters usually blame the dominant party for whatever they feel has gone wrong over the past two years. And right now, voters don’t seem to be putting much of the blame on the Democrats.

Speaker 1: Entering this election. What did the Republicans think the big issues were?

Speaker Two: In the midst of this election, Republicans thought the big issues were triple, and in that order, number one, inflation, which is the highest inflation in decades. It made it difficult for people to pay for groceries, rent and petrol. Number two, crime, whether real or perceived, in the districts in which their voters live. And third, what Republicans have described as a border crisis that needs immediate attention. Those three things they felt were their ticket to sweeping victories.

Speaker 1: What are the big issues for the Democrats?

Speaker 2: For the Democrats, there have been some big issues. Number one, abortion after the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal federal abortion protections. Second, was the issue of democracy itself and the idea that the country’s institution had been jeopardized by Donald Trump and his allies’ insistence on calling the 2020 election a fraud. Then in the final phase, there was a focus on Social Security and Medicare after some Republicans floated plans to reduce or eliminate entitlement benefits. And these three things Democrats have focused almost like a laser on, really without responding much to the attacks on inflation at all.

Speaker 1: Let’s talk about how these arguments play out at the polls, starting with one big moment last night in Florida.

Speaker 9: Ron DeSantis decisively won 59% to Charlie Crest 40% to win his second term at the Governor’s House in Tallahassee.

Speaker 2: Ron DeSantis won by a landslide, and that was a key moment because it indicated his star was rising. And of course, if Ron DeSantis’ star is rising, someone else’s star is waning. This, of course, is the star of Donald Trump. And so he tells you that Republicans are about to transcend the Donald Trump era.

Speaker 1: Can you explain that a little bit? Why is DeSantis’ victory a blow to Trump?

Speaker 2: Ron DeSantis is seen as the biggest challenger to Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race. It got to the point where Donald Trump was aware of this and started shooting Ron DeSantis personally. Only one Republican can be the party’s standard bearer or leader. And Donald Trump, by virtue of being the former president, should technically fill this role. And the fact that it’s not and that Ron DeSantis won a landslide tells you a lot about who’s on the list and who’s getting frustrated.

Speaker 1: But that night when DeSantis won Florida, it seemed like a good sign for Republicans.

Speaker 2: It sounded like a good sign for the Republicans because it looked like the start of a red wave, but it’s more like lighting a match and watching the flames swing by. That was just an ember. It was not a fire that would spread throughout the country. It was limited, it was limited. It was unique to Ron DeSantis personally, in Florida.

Speaker 1: When was the moment in the night when you felt that wouldn’t set the country on fire?

Speaker Two: The first place I saw you was Virginia, where two Virginia Democrats won. Then people began noticing the race in Colorado, where one of the republics thought to have a safe seat began falling behind its Democratic rival. This raised a lot of astonishment. Really, the pinnacle was when the Pennsylvania Senate race was called to John Fetterman in place of Mehmet Oz.

SPEAKER 11: That’s a headline, 1:10 a.m. here, Jon Fetterman, ABC News Project will win Pennsylvania.

SPEAKER 12: It’s the first switch of the night and it makes a big, big difference in the battle for the Senate.

Speaker Two: He thought the race in the Pennsylvania Senate would be so close that it would take days to tally all the ballots that were pouring in through the mail. Once it becomes clear that the Democrats have flipped that Senate seat, it’s almost a tipping point and could jittery among Republicans. You can see people biting their nails. You may feel the anger start to seep in. And then that moment with Kevin McCarthy and the empty ballroom is a picture I know a lot of people took with them from last night.

Speaker 1: Here’s what a lackluster GOP night says about the future of the GOP. As we speak, we’re waiting for some important races. Senates compete in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. How long do we have to wait?

Speaker 2: The wait could be days for a country like Nevada. It may be until early December for Georgia. So it will likely be weeks before we really know what control of Congress will look like.

Speaker 1: To win the Georgia race, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote. Neither Republican Herschel Walker nor Democrat Raphael Warnock could do that. And this afternoon, the state announced that the race will go into a run-off on December 6. Could waiting for these results and the fact that so many races are so close together fuel more allegations that the electoral process is somehow rigged or corrupt, as we saw in 2020?

Speaker 2: It’s a risk. At this point, it seems less problematic than it was in 2020 when Donald Trump and many Republicans announced their suspicion of fraud. Having said that, my colleagues in Nevada are beginning to discover indications that Republicans there may question the legitimacy of the election results. It will appear that issues of election integrity and election fraud have not been completely eliminated.

Speaker 1: Trump endorsed some of the candidates vying for seats who were denial of the results of the 2020 presidential election. How did these candidates perform in this election?

Speaker 2: There was a lot of overlap between the candidates Trump approved and those who rejected the election and those candidates didn’t perform well. Don Bolduc, Blake Masters, and even someone like J.D. Vance or Ted Budd who took a win in North Carolina needed a lot of support from outside Republican groups. They barely won in what was supposed to be a great year for Republicans in states where the climate is very favorable to Republicans.

Speaker 1: So what would that say about Trump’s power within the Republican Party, especially given that he’s considering another presidential run?

Speaker 2: It looks like the fever has broken and there are enough Republicans ready to move on.

Speaker 1: That sounds like a big statement. Are you ready to do this? Fever broke?

Speaker 2: I might be the first to make it, but I think I am. And I don’t think the fever is going to explode in a way that is advertised by Republicans. They won’t put up a plaque saying the Trump era is over. But I think very quietly that people hope to move forward. They want to turn the page, look at the next chapter, focus on someone like Ron DeSantis, and hope Trump kind of fades into the past. Not everyone. There is still a MAGA base. But the problem is, if the MAGA base is not enough to give the Republicans a majority, it will limit the effectiveness of the MAGA wing. The Republicans I spoke to said that many Republicans, even those who loved Donald Trump, said, “We love Donald Trump, but we need to move on. We don’t think he can win and we think everyone else will back off.” And a lot of those fears, the kinds of anxieties that are talked about among friends and confidants prove to be true, prove to be right.

Speaker 1: Looking ahead, the Republicans are still expected to win the House, albeit by a smaller margin. Why is this important to them in terms of judgment?

Speaker 2: They were expecting to win the House of Representatives by very large margins. The margins are so large that Republicans will be in a position to conduct a serious investigation of Joe Biden from a very solid base. Be in a position to do things like spending power slash Democrats’ throats, do a lot to weaken Joe Biden, and weaken the Democrats’ ground before the crucial presidential election in 2024. Instead, they’re in a position where they’ll have to spend the next two years fighting a lot among themselves and alienating themselves. Their eyes are on what they all want their target to be, Joe Biden and his Democrat.

Speaker 1: If the story of this election is not that there is a red wave, then what is the story?

Speaker 2: It’s not a red wave, but it’s still a very divided country. However, it is not a country so divided that the people are willing to tear the republic to shreds. Perhaps this is where voters can take some solace.

Speaker 1: That’s it for Wednesday, November 9. The Journal is a co-production of Gimlet and The Wall Street Journal. Special thanks to Scott Calvert, Jim Carlton, Chris Marr and Cameron (inaudible). Thank you for listening. see you tomorrow.

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