Talking Points

How Republicans could still blow it in 2022

Believe it or not, the GOP could still lose next year's midterm elections. That might seem an obvious point given that we're a year away from casting and counting votes, but it has quickly become conventional wisdom that a big red wave is about to hit the country. Democrats lost the Virginia governorship last week and nearly did the same in New Jersey. All that's left for Dems is to await the disaster that is surely coming.

Unless it doesn't come, because congressional Republicans are capable of screwing up a sure thing.

If you wanted to tank the election for the GOP, you could stand by silently while Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) made common cause against COVID vaccines with the antisemitic conspiracy theorists in Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, which she did on Monday. The Nation of Islam "sees the use and benefit of Ivermectin and is very angry that our media, Democrats, and Dr Fauci [sic] have attacked the drug and refuse to save people's lives by not promoting it and shunning the use of it," Greene tweeted. "We have common ground there."

If you hoped to blow up your chances at a congressional majority, you could look the other way, as Republicans did Monday, while Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tweeted out an animated video depicting him decapitating colleague Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). It's the sort of implied threat that would get any regular citizen tossed out of their school or workplace, much less someone who has repeatedly demonstrated an affinity with white supremacists.

And if you were intent on wrecking your electoral chances, you could do those things while also threatening to strip committee assignments from 13 Republican colleagues who voted last week for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. That would be a good way to lose some of those seats, and also an effective signal to the broader voting public that the party has surrendered entirely to extremism. Greene and Gosar are welcome in the GOP family, but members who vote for roads and bridges are not? What are swing voters going to think about that?

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has mused in recent days about picking up as many as 60 seats for the GOP in next year's elections. Perhaps their rivals really are in such bad shape that Republicans don't have to worry about making themselves appealing to voters. Maybe, though, they're about to blow it.