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One word "abortion", enough said.

Actually, two words "abortion and Trump".

The GOP’s Lost Independents

Masters, Bolduc and Oz, among others, turned off swing voters.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Nov. 13, 2022 4:58 pm ET

Republican midterm election losses are piling up, as Democrats retained the Senate over the weekend and may still retake the House. An honest examination is in order as the recriminations fly, and the most striking midterm result so far is how the GOP lost the middle of the electorate in crucial races for Congress.

The GOP did well in getting out its voters. In the two main election surveys, more Republicans than Democrats turned out to vote: 36% to 33% in the national media exit poll, and 49% to 43% in the AP VoteCast. Republicans could get a majority share of the final House vote without getting a House majority. So much for the GOP’s supposed gerrymandering edge.

What cost the GOP is that it lost voters who identify as independents, who now make up a quarter to more than 40% of the electorate, depending on the state. According to Gallup, in October this year 33% of voters nationwide identified as Republicans, 29% as Democrats and 35% as independents. Forty-eight percent of the self-identified independents said they lean Republican while 42% lean Democrat.

In a typical midterm, those voters should be inclined to swing against the party in power, especially given inflation and President Biden’s low job approval. This year they didn’t. According to the national media exit poll, of the 31% of voters who identify as independent, 49% voted Democrat and 47% Republican. In the AP VoteCast survey, independents favored Democrats by four points.

Those numbers are startling compared to the usual pattern for independents in midterms. According to CNN polling, in 2018 54% of independents voted Democrat and 42% voted Republican. (Democrats added 40 House seats.) In 2010, 56% of independents voted Republican and 37% voted Democrat for a Republican pickup of 63 House seats. In 2014, 54% voted Republican and 42% voted Democrat, adding an extra 13 Republican House seats.

The results are worse for Republicans in key races. In Arizona, 40% of voters in the Senate race identified as independent in an exit poll, and of those, 55% voted for Democrat Mark Kelly and 39% for Republican Blake Masters, who lost a winnable race.

In Pennsylvania, 24% of voters identified as independent and an amazing 58% of them voted for the left-wing Democrat John Fetterman compared to 38% for Mehmet Oz. Ditto in Georgia, where 24% of voters identified as independent and Democrat Raphael Warnock won 53% of them compared to 42% for Herschel Walker. In New Hampshire, 43% of voters call themselves independents and 54% of them voted for Democrat Maggie Hassan over Republican Donald Bolduc.

The message couldn’t be clearer. Independent voters in swing states may be unhappy with the direction of the country, but they didn’t trust the GOP enough to give them power. Abortion seems to have been one factor that cut against the GOP this year, and the pro-life party will have to adjust its policy and message for 2024.

Mr. Trump’s hand-picked candidates who supported the stolen 2020 election line to win his endorsement also appear to have driven away swing voters. The excuse coming from the MAGA media and Blake Masters, who lost badly in Arizona, that Mitch McConnell didn’t spend enough money to save him doesn’t stand scrutiny. Mr. Masters raised too little money himself and got little help from Mr. Trump.

The counter example is Florida, where Republicans were able to create a separate governing identity from Mr. Trump. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won 53% of independent voters to Democrat Charlie Crist’s 45%.

In today’s closely divided politics, some partisans think all you need to do is drive your own base supporters to the polls. That’s important but not sufficient. If Republicans want to keep losing elections, they’ll keep nominating candidates who turn off swing voters.

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