Beyond State Borders: The Election on the National Stage

During the midterm elections, things did not pan out the way that Republicans hoped. In the words of philosopher and historian Samuel O’Nella, the red wave “went from torrential downpour to incontinent poodle” over the course of the night. While a few races still have yet to be called, the Democrats seem to have only barely lost their lead in the House of Representatives while retaining their majority in the Senate. Aside from a few key areas, the Republicans had poor showings across the board.

Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,”  is an FIU coastal scientist and professor in the Department of Earth and Environment.

One of these exceptions, however, was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He blew expectations out of the water, winning the gubernatorial reelection with almost 60 percent of the popular vote. DeSantis has been in the news quite a lot this past year and has established himself as a Republican leader capable of solving the big problems facing Florida and other states. Hurricane Ian was one such example. DeSantis was able to effectively respond to the storm and shake the trend of “government inaction in times of crisis” that has plagued the Republican party since Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria. Stephen Leatherman, an ecologist, praised DeSantis’s response. ”As a coastal scientist, I was very impressed, people thought it was going to take a year to bring [normalcy] back. And he brought it back in a few weeks.” Another huge moment for DeSantis this year was the Martha’s Vineyard migrants. While he has shown himself to be an effective and polished career politician, he has demonstrated his adeptness at “owning the libs,” which is the one desire that unites all Conservatives.

 Former President Trump introduces DeSantis during a Florida campaign rally in late 2019.

However, despite his success, DeSantis is not a universally loved figure within the Republican party. Former president Donald Trump has expressed disapproval of DeSantis, blaming his rise on the collusion of the mainstream media. “NewsCorp, which is Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the no longer great New York Post (bring back Col!), is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious,” he said in a number of social media posts and press releases on Thursday “An average REPUBLICAN Governor with great Public Relations, who didn’t have to close up his State, but did, unlike other Republican Governors, whose overall numbers for a Republican, were just average — middle of the pack — including COVID, and who has the advantage of SUNSHINE, where people from badly run States up North would go no matter who the Governor was, just like I did!” While Donald Trump has not explicitly stated his intention to run for president in 2024, there have been rumors from anonymous insider sources that he plans to announce his candidacy soon, and has already received endorsements from political figures in his sphere.

“This morning I called John Fetterman and congratulated him. I wish him and his family all the best, both personally and as our next United States Senator,” wrote Oz in a statement last Wednesday.

Another polarizing figure in the midterm elections was Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, a television personality and medical doctor. He was running for one of the Pennsylvanian Senate seats as a Republican. While Dr. Oz is certainly not the most famous television personality to have a go at a political career, his television show in particular is one that seems almost too topical for our recent political climate. In a time where trust in the medical establishment and scientific research is reaching record lows, Dr. Oz represents the alternative medicine and pseudo-science that has become prevalent among some Republicans. Oz has been known to endorse dubiously legal products on his show, like weight-loss pills and something called a “fat magnet,” and his platform on Covid-19 seems to echo this alternative approach to medicine. On his campaign website, Oz has the following blurb regarding his Covid-19 policy: “While elites with yards tell those without yards to stay inside (where the virus was waiting) and mask up, Dr. Oz has been putting his expertise to work on behalf of us.” While this may not be as big of an issue as it was during the 2020 election cycle, it still remains relevant in the minds of most voters. However, Dr. Oz has all but lost this election. He fell victim to the problem of voter concentration. While he may have fans all across North America, not enough of those fans reside in Pennsylvania to bring him his victory.

Political scientists can debate ad infinitum about why the “Red Wave” didn’t play out as expected, but there are a few leading theories. The first is the issue of abortion and the recent repeal of Roe vs. Wade over the summer. With the national protection of abortion gone, the decision is now in the hands of the states. Many Americans feel that the general Republican stance on the issue is too strict, and want more freedom in regard to pregnancy. This becomes a hot-button issue and is more likely to push otherwise undecided voters into the arms of Democrats. Another theory is the remnants of “Trumpism” and election denial. After the January 6 Capitol Hill riot, most prominent Republicans renounced their support of former President Trump. However, many candidates for election this year retained their support of Trump and/or the fraudulent election theory. Additionally, telling supporters that the election is rigged is motivation for them to stop voting altogether.

Regardless of the reasons, the Democrats came out of this election looking a lot better than predicted. While not much has changed this year, quite a bit was set up for a tumultuous presidential election in 2024.

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