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For the GOP, replicating the 2021 elections is easier said than done

Republicans will look at yesterday's results in Virginia and New Jersey as templates for 2022. That's harder than it looks.


To study election results in the United States is to realize that gubernatorial races often produce counterintuitive results. For example, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts are three of the nation's bluest blue states — but they're each led by Republican governors.

On the other hand, Kentucky, Kansas, and Louisiana are reliable red states, each of which Donald Trump carried by double digits. They're also led by Democratic governors.

I mention this because the conventional wisdom this morning suggests that Republicans will look at yesterday's results in Virginia and New Jersey, and use them as templates in the 2022 midterm election cycle.

There's reason for some skepticism. Pointing to Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin's success in Virginia, a Roll Call analysis explained:

Youngkin blazed a legitimate path to victory in territory that had previously rejected Trump by keeping some distance from the former president. While Trump will claim credit for Youngkin's win, his absence from Virginia and not requiring Youngkin to kiss the ring allowed the GOP nominee to appeal to the independent voters he needed to win. That won't be as easy in 2022 for Republican candidates who have to navigate competitive primaries, and profess loyalty to Trump, before moving on to the general election.

All of this applies equally well to New Jersey, where Republicans nominated Jack Ciattarelli, who had no qualms about denouncing Donald Trump and who didn't want the former president to be involved in his candidacy at all. For congressional GOP candidates, this won't be as easy. A Washington Post analysis added:

What also matters is whether Republicans can actually put forward candidates like Youngkin and perhaps Ciattarelli who can effectively craft their own brand. That's especially true given how much some top GOP Senate candidates have tied themselves to Trump in the service of winning primaries — and how much Republicans might nominate candidates more extreme and with more baggage than Youngkin because they have Trump's backing.

The Associated Press added, "Whether Republicans can maintain this week's success in the 2022 midterms — where the most competitive races will be in traditional swing states and moderate districts — may depend on whether Trump is content to remain an afterthought in national politics, even as he moves toward a 2024 presidential run. That's not likely."

Watch this space.