Republican Party picks losers

In 1950, the late UCLA Bruins football coach Red Sanders entered the zeitgeist forever when he told his men, “Winning isn’t everything. That’s the only thing. The quote has endured as a testament to the drive to compete and ambition, both in sport and in life.

And nowhere is victory more important than electoral politics. While the campaigns themselves can be useful ways to launch a political career or make a statement – William F. Buckley Jr. ran as New York City mayor in 1965 “half-funny” – the real focus is, of course, to win.

And political parties know that winning seats, whether in Congress or in state chambers, is the only way to implement their policies, laws and ideas.

But looking at the Republican Party today, one would think that winning is indeed not everything. Maybe it’s even nothing.

How else to explain why, in blue states, the GOP has inexplicably pushed far-right MAGA candidates who have little or no chance of winning?

Take Massachusetts, where I grew up. On Tuesday night, Republicans in Massachusetts nominated Geoff Diehl, a former Trump-backed state lawmaker who the former president said would “lead…with an iron fist” for governor. And to be clear, that was meant to be a selling point – in the union’s most liberal Commonwealth.

Perhaps thanks in part to Trump’s ominous endorsement, Diehl beat the more moderate Chris Doughty and will now face Democrat Maura Healy to replace incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Baker.

Electing a Republican to the State House in Massachusetts blue is not a first. Seven of the last 11 governors have been Republicans – Mitt Romney was one of them. And Baker was sometimes one of the most popular governors in the country.

But mass voters elect a certain type of Republican, and Diehl doesn’t.

To underscore this point, look at how unlikely Diehl’s chances are against Healy. Almost every poll puts her in the double digits, and in some cases she beats Diehl by 30 points. All three versions of FiveThirtyEight’s medium-term predictions give Healy a better than 99% chance of winning. Thanks to Diehl and Trump, Massachusetts is the most likely governorship to flip in 2022.

Gee, that sounds smart. And that’s not the only state where Republicans run this utterly silly and confusing playbook.

In Maryland, Republicans decided that rather than appoint another moderate to replace the incumbent and wildly popular two-term Republican Larry Hogan, they would instead slap Hogan and nominate a candidate endorsed by Trump — in a state where Democrats are outnumbered Republicans 2:1.

Unsurprisingly, Democrat Wes Moore edged Republican Dan Cox 10-to-1, and Moore has a 97% chance of winning.

It’s almost – almost – like the Republicans are trying to lose.

Led by Trump and Trumpism, the GOP is also pushing some policies that a majority of Republicans don’t actually want, which seems like an odd choice in an election year.

For example, only 13% of Republicans support a total ban on abortion, which is pushed by a number of Republican governors and state legislatures.

70% of Republicans oppose book bans, the kind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have been promoting.

A majority of Republicans believe learning about race and racism in school helps students “understand what others have been through,” despite multiple efforts to ban things like critical race theory in colleges. schools.

A majority of Republicans support same-sex marriage, despite the party passing anti-LGBT legislation and threatening to overturn the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision.

All of this begs the question: what the hell is the Republican Party doing? The simple answer is, whatever Donald Trump wants.

It does not mean anything. In one term, Trump managed to lose everything for Republicans – the White House, the House and the Senate. And in a midterm election year where the ruling party is historically punished at the polls, the prospects for Democrats are looking increasingly brighter.

So when Democrats retain the Senate, and maybe even the House, and when they overthrow the state houses of Massachusetts and Maryland, and when they win seats in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, will Republicans finally remember that eligibility — aka the ability to win — is what elections are all about? Or will they continue to insist on performative but wasteful politics that nurtures a dwindling number of marginal voters at the expense of the moderate majority?

Winning counts and Donald Trump is a proven loser. Republicans need to let him go.

SE Cupp is the host of “SE Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.

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