Many Republicans are still scratching their heads over the disappointing outcome of the 2022 midterm elections. If you were to line these Republicans up and ask why candidates fell short you’d get a lot of different answers.
The answer probably isn’t actually as complicated as many believe it is. In fact, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has some insight into why the GOP fell short, and if anyone knows what works and what doesn’t, it’s the guy whose state is now the ultimate GOP stronghold.
During a press conference on Thursday, DeSantis got onto the subject of the GOP’s weak showing during the elections and laid down some wisdom. According to him, the issue was that too many Republicans weren’t willing to take on tough fights that would have excited and energized the base.
The governor of Florida noted that midterms typically see a pendulum swing away from whichever party is in the White House. This didn’t happen at the rate the GOP thought it would, but it did in Florida, and DeSantis explained why:
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“So, I don’t think it’s a question of necessarily being divided as a party, I think it’s like, okay, how do you run and win majorities, and I think what we’ve done in Florida is we’ve shown that we’ve exercised leadership, we’ve not kowtowed, we’ve been willing to take on big interests … producing results, and that ends up attracting more people to want to be on your team — and so that was not something that was happening throughout the rest of the country. But I think that we really showed, I think, how it’s done in the state of Florida, and if you look about how we performed, no governor, Republican, has ever gotten a higher percentage of the vote in Florida history than we got in 2022.”
In other words, Republicans need to get far more aggressive when it comes to the fights they’re willing to take on. DeSantis, for instance, took a purple state and turned it red over time thanks to his willingness to draw lines in the sand and act when they were crossed instead of being too scared to step into the ring.
Twice, the governor and his fellow Republicans in Florida had to launch all-out attacks against entities that came against them. The first was the Democrat machine during the pandemic, where DeSantis got busy releasing lockdowns and mask mandates after it was pretty clear that it was all doing more harm than good. The second was when he slapped Disney square in the face when it threatened to move against him over the parental rights education bill.
DeSantis has a point and his winning record backs him up. During the elections, many Republican voters were talking war while many GOP candidates were lukewarm. GOP leadership wouldn’t even aggressively back Republican candidates that needed a fire lit under their campaigns.
The GOP might have underperformed in many other states but in Florida, where they drew battle lines and held them vigorously, Republican voters were just as aggressive.
DeSantis’s words should be ringing in every GOP strategist’s ears right now.