Some votes are still being counted and the final results are not clear, but I've seen enough to draw some conclusions from yesterday's election.
Donald Trump is a drag in a general election in purple states. In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who Trump doesn't like, won about 53 percent of the vote, while Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who Trump likes, was at 48 or 49 percent of the vote. Likewise, in New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu, who has distanced himself from Trump, won with about 57 percent of the vote, while Republican Senate candidate Dan Bolduc, a Trump fan, attracted only about 44 percent of the vote. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Republican success story of the night, won reelection with roughly 59 percent of the vote despite being denounced by Trump as "Ron DeSanctimonious." There are some outliers—J.D. Vance won the Ohio Senate race despite being allied with Trump—but overall, it was not a good night for Trump. Perhaps this realization will make Republican primary voters think twice before choosing Trump-allied candidates, or Trump himself, in primaries in 2024.
"Exit" diminishes voice. If all the Orthodox Jews and affluent professionals and retirees (and their children) who have already left New York State for Florida, New Jersey, or Israel still lived in New York, would it have been enough to put Republican Lee Zeldin over the top in his race against Kathy Hochul? Maybe. As it was, those voters padded margins for DeSantis and Netanyahu (or Smotrich) rather than Zeldin.
Republicans can delude themselves in a bubble, too. At the top of the Wall Street Journal editorial page on November 4 was an article touting Bolduc's chances under the headline "An Upset May Be Brewing in New Hampshire." Henry Olsen of the right-leaning Ethics and Public Policy Center, generally a shrewd analyst, had a November 7 Washington Post column predicting the Republicans would emerge with 54 Senate seats. "Inflation, crime, progressive attempts at overreach and a general sense that President Biden is not up to the job will likely deliver a surprisingly large victory to Republicans," Olsen wrote. Michael Barone, one of the most brilliant election analysts on the center-right, had a column about "poll numbers trending toward a wave victory for Republicans." I myself was holding forth in private conversation this past weekend about Tesla-driving, college-educated coastal elites underestimating the fury felt by middle-American, non-college-educated voters at high gasoline prices and at Biden's unilateral forgiveness of student loan debt. It turns out that some voters care more about abortion rights than they do about cheap gas prices.