What does the future hold for the GOP in the aftermath of the 2020 elections?

Future of the GOP


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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (right)

Alejandro Cuevas-Rodriguez

In the aftermath of losing two very winnable Senate races in Georgia, the Republican Party has spoiled any chances that it had left of having at least some control of the government.

Both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler grossly underperformed in the runoff election’s turnout, with Perdue receiving 249,000 votes less than he did in the November race.

The only ones that can be blamed for this are the fringe group of “Stop the Steal”, MAGA conservatives that believed that Trump lost because of election fraud. The short and sweet answer is that these people actively compromised the GOP’s chances in Georgia. Pro-Trump lawyer and conspiracy theorist L. Lin Wood, who donated to Barack Obama and David Perdue’s Democratic opponent in 2014, called for GOP voters to boycott Georgia’s Senate runoffs, because if they didn’t, their votes “wouldn’t count because of fraud”.

Wood is just one example of many cases of personalities from the “Stop the Steal” crowd who told voters to boycott the race, and in the end it cost Republicans the Senate majority. I myself don’t believe that there was widespread fraud in this election, but fringe groups tend to not take too kindly to losing. A great example of this would be Hillary Clinton’s most passionate supporters after her loss in 2016.

The future is looking somewhat uncertain for the GOP in the 2022 Senate elections. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are basically tossups, and Florida and Iowa have been trending more conservative. The Democrats are in defense in New Hampshire, as Maggie Hassan could be facing potential competition from  former challenger Kelly Ayotte and Governor Chris Sununu who has an approval rating of over 68%.

Again, these are very winnable races for the GOP, and they are crucial in order to retake control of the Senate. Pennsylvania’s incumbent Senator Pat Toomey will be retiring after the end of his term, so Republican voters will need to choose wisely in the primary, and not choose a former perennial candidate or an unknown State Representative.

As for Wisconsin, incumbent Senator Ron Johnson will have to decide if he will be running for a third term or not. Johnson is possibly one of the weakest Republican incumbents right now, and the Democrats are already running ads on him. He will either need to fight back, or pave the way for new blood that is badly needed within the Wisconsin GOP.

Surprisingly, Nevada could also be a Republican pickup due to the high Republican turnout in the 2020 general election, where Donald Trump outperformed in not just rural areas, but also Clark County and Washoe County.

In the end, the Senate race could go both ways. The GOP has a chance to retake control while picking up some seats along the way, but they also have a chance to remain the opposition party if Democratic turnout remains the same.

What is certain is that from now until 2022, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) will become the most powerful Senator in the 117th Congress. Having described himself as a “moderately conservative Democrat”, Manchin has stated on Fox News that he won’t support “radical legislation” proposed by Democrats, such as expanding the Supreme Court or eliminating the filibuster.

In a 50-50 vote on a progressive piece of legislation where the Vice President is the tiebreaker, Manchin could be the final line of defense for GOP Senators who don’t necessarily agree with him, but could use his moderate centrist views to their advantage. 

As for the House of Representatives, the GOP totally smashed expectations in the 2020 election and won back many seats that they had lost in 2018. Nancy Pelosi’s majority has shrunk down to just 222 seats, and she was barely re-elected. If the GOP can put forth great candidates in 2022 and the new incumbents can do their jobs, we could be looking at Kevin McCarthy in the majority leader’s seat. 

Younger and more mainstream candidates like Madison Cawthorn, Maria Elvira Salazar, and Lauren Boebert gave the GOP a fresh look, and they’re helping voters stray away from the mainstream cookie cutter fiscal conservative candidates. This strategy will also be crucial to helping the GOP regain a House majority in 2022.

The 2024 presidential election is a long ways away and the primary will most likely be highly contested due to a power vacuum left by President Trump, but GOP voters can rest assured knowing that a Democratic congress as well as a Democratic executive branch will most likely not be able to pass its most ambitious bills and legislations.