Although historical trends and frustrations with the current administration pointed to the likelihood of big GOP wins in last year’s midterm elections, the red wave that Republicans hoped to see did not materialize.
Former U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who ran a competitive but ultimately unsuccessful bid for governor in 2022, recently asserted that his own party was to blame for their lackluster performance at the polls.
“When your high-paid political consultant tells you not to go to a heavily Democratic area, that’s exactly where we need to show up and earn the support of these Democrats,” he said at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. “We cannot relinquish the cities; we cannot relinquish the suburbs.”
Republicans didn’t earn a red wave nationally in ‘22, and we need to understand why to best prepare for ‘24.
Red waves won’t show up simply by messaging what you are against ("Joe Biden bad", "Democratic Party bad") but instead by exceptionally communicating what you stand FOR. pic.twitter.com/EjwmX8IcFS
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) March 4, 2023
In the end, Zeldin said that the Republican Party “did not earn a red wave nationally,” asserting that candidates on his side of the aisle must reassess their approach ahead of next year’s election “to save America.”
Part of that strategy, he explained, should involve more authentic outreach to minority communities — specifically on issues like education and crime.
Furthermore, the ex-lawmaker asserted that it is a “bad assumption” for Republicans to make that Democrats who are disillusioned with their own party will simply become Republicans.
One recommendation that might earn Zeldin some intraparty backlash involves his assertion that Republicans should take advantage of the election laws passed in Democratic-led states.
Many in the GOP, including Zeldin, have expressed serious concerns about the deleterious impact of such efforts on the integrity of U.S. elections, but he argued that Republicans need to play by the rules that are already in place if they want to win in blue states.
After reiterating his opposition to no-excuse absentee voting and so-called ballot harvesting, he added: “But wherever states decide to do it anyway, Republicans need to do it better than Democrats and make those Democrats deeply regret legalizing those methods in the first place.”
Late last year, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel offered a similar assessment.
“There were many in 2020 saying, ‘Don’t vote by mail; don’t vote early,’” she said. “And we need to stop that and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day.”