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How Red Wave mania left Republicans seeing red
The ugly truth behind the election-night moonshine that had Republicans waking up with a Red Wave hangover. Ouch.
I have heard from many dejected friends following the 2022 midterm elections, all expressing their extreme anger, disappointment, and shock.
“Despair” was actually the word most frequently used to vent their intense frustration that a widely expected “Red Wave” did not materialize.
A year ago, the media buildup of such a Red Wave was beginning to take root in the heads of many Republicans. The notion grew and blossomed into a mirage of seductive red roses.
Hardly anyone seemed to have a doubt. The Democrats were about to suffer defeat in November on a historical, embarrassing scale.
In the end, however, it was the Republicans that were left red-faced, humiliated, and hung over.
The GOP barely captured the House and, depending on Georgia’s runoff elections, may lose ground in the Senate.
How did we get there? Where did the hype of a Red Wave come from, especially since it left so many Republicans with bloodshot eyes?
The first hint of a Red Wave didn’t appear until mid-December 2021, when The New York Times ran the headline: “Will Trump ruin a Red Wave in 2022?”
There were plenty of reasons for the Times to predict such a wave.
Virginia Republican and gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin had just beaten the pants off of Democratic governor and onetime Bill-Clinton-money-man Terry McAuliffe in Virginia after outmaneuvering him in a campaign focused on parental rights.
Farther north, in New Jersey, Democrats lost six state assembly seat races, including the stunning defeat of formidable Senate president Steve Sweeney to a truck driver, Edward Durr. The novice politician spent just $2,300 to unseat the most powerful politician the Garden State had seen in ten years.
Something seismic was shaking the Democratic seafloor.
Fingers began pointing, and trouble spots for the Democrats didn’t take advanced underwater sonar to find.
Bail reform. Critical Race Theory. Inflation. Crime. Unfettered immigration. Covid masking policies. Covid shots. Biden’s plummeting polling numbers. Parental rights. Transgender surgery for kids. Men competing ridiculously as women in female sports. Thirty House Democrats resigning from Congress.
Brewing the Red Wave moonshine
By mid-January 2022, The Hill (a leftist publication that covers the U.S. Congress) was asking the question: “Could the coming ‘red wave’ election become a ‘red tsunami’?”
Within just three months of the November 2021 elections, the media concluded that the Red Wave was as inevitable as blood being red.
In fact, in mid-February, the Norfolk Daily News reported, “A bloodbath is coming in 2022.”
It wasn’t long before prominent Republican leaders bought into the flourishing Red Wave theory and began touting the encouraging news to their base.
Elise Stefanik (R-NY) Tweeted: “The #RedWave is coming. Looking more and more like a #RedTsunami.”
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told FOX News, “America is about to take their country back. November is going to be a massive break on a disaster of a presidency.”
Throughout the winter, Republican excitement grew over the expectation of an insurmountable Red Wave.
In April, however, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report slapped down those GOP aspirations and dumped ice on top.
In an analysis that would later prove accurate, the publication’s editor, Amy Walter, said the “metrics” just weren’t there for a Republican Red Wave … or Bloodbath, Tsunami, Tidal Wave, or whatever else one might want to call it.
In essence, Walter argued, there were only six congressional districts currently represented by a Democrat that Biden didn’t carry in 2020. The Republicans won three of those six seats.
Too drunk to see reality
The GOP should have seen the writing on the wall. Unfortunately, there were just too many safe Democrat seats to produce a Red Wave. Compounding the problem was the fact that Republicans were already neck-and-neck with Democrats in the U.S. House.
Take note of this:
The last two Red Waves in the U.S. House occurred in 1994, with the GOP picking up 54 seats, and in 2010 the GOP picking up 63 seats. But the GOP began the 1994 race with just 176 seats and in 2010 with just 179 seats.
This year, the GOP started with 213 seats.
Was it ever reasonable to think the GOP would produce the type of Red Wave of 1994 or 2010?
The Cook Political Report was the only noteworthy publication in early spring of 2022 calling for re-examining the Red Wave theory.
But when July arrived, Inside Elections (another election forecasting publication) threw more than cold water on the forecast of a Red Wave. Despite the summer’s heat, they threw frozen spears at the speculation, saying the GOP would likely pick up only six seats in November.
By August, NBC was describing the Red Wave as a mirage. The Wall Street Journal poked fun at the ambitious projections with the headline, “From Red Wave to Republican Ripple.”
The Red Wave theory was dying and was virtually dead by the end of August, with the conservative Washington Examiner reporting, “Red wave crashing.”
In early September, The Hill predicted the elections could actually become a “Blue Wave.”
A bit more cautious but still dismissive of a GOP tsunami, U.S. News & World Report said it looked like the elections would be a “Pink Wave.”
By October, the Red Wave theory was in the rearview mirror of the media, political pundits, and election analysis gurus.
The shill that left Republicans feeling ill
The disappointment, anger, and despair that so many Republicans would eventually suffer could have been avoided were it not for a few people that gave renewed life to the theory in early November, days before the election.
Four powerful voices reignited the idea as Republicans headed to the polls.
Sen. Ted Cruz told FOX News “not just a wave, but a red tsunami” was coming on Nov. 8.
Podcaster Joe Rogan said, “The Red Wave is going to be like the elevator doors opening up in the Shining.”
Former president Donald Trump told voters, “You must vote Republican in a giant red wave.”
Elon Musk asked independent-minded voters to get out and vote Republican, reaffirming his belief in a “Massive red wave in 2022.”
As the Red Wave theory was resurrected from its summer’s grave, these voices gave it new birth, expectations, and assurances.
But when the elevator doors opened on Nov. 9, the only thing Republicans saw was a smirking Jack Nicholson hissing through his teeth: “Heeeere’s Reality!”
Yes, GOP expectations fell flat, and despair set in. Pre-election smiles morphed into frowns. It didn’t help that media headlines were darkening any silver linings, bright sides, or rays of hope in those blood-red eyes.
“The Red Wave Was More Like a Pink Splash,” mocked Time magazine.
“Red Wave Turned into Absolute Disaster,” snickered Yahoo!
Virtually unnoticed were any glimmers of hope.
The Republicans DID take control of the House of Representatives. Republicans did win 52.3 percent of the votes in 2022, totaling nearly six million more than the remaining votes.
Then there’s this picture, which certainly looks like a Red Wave flowing across America: