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The outcome of the 2022 election was far different from what I expected – and what most pollsters and analysts expected.

I thought Republicans would win dramatically bigger victories.

When the exit polls had 75%, three-out-of-four, voters saying America was on the wrong track, I thought for sure there would be a repudiation of Democrats and a Republican tide.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi

With the crisis in the cost of living (gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, food, rent, and so on), the rising murder and crime rates in our largest cities, a flood of more than 4 million people illegally crossing our southern border, and the growing anger over schools indoctrinating our children with radical values, I expected a wave of opposition.

REPUBLICAN WORKHORSES WON BY SHOWING LEADERSHIP ON KEY ISSUES VOTERS CARED ABOUT

And in fact, (to make things more complicated) there was a Republican wave. According to the Cook Political Report, Republicans had 6 million more votes for the House than Democrats. These votes did not translate into a surge of seats because districts are tightly gerrymandered and many Democrat incumbents hung on by narrow margins.

The Cook Political Report estimated that Republicans got 52.3% of the vote for the House compared to 46.2% of the vote for Democrats. That 6.1% margin was greater than the 2.5% generic Republican advantage from the average of the national polls just before the election.

As someone who has been involved in campaigns since 1958, this is a surprisingly confusing outcome. The gloom hit a lot of Republicans as the results came in as a red trickle instead of a red wave. Frankly, I briefly joined them in a more somber attitude. Then my wife Callista, who served as chief clerk of the House Committee on Agriculture and knows the House well, turned to me and said, “a majority is a majority.”

That realism was strengthened by the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s chief attorney, Machalagh Carr, who rightly said the speaker’s gavel doesn’t come in small, medium and large. There is only one speaker’s gavel – and it transfers all the power from Nancy Pelosi to Kevin McCarthy.

REPUBLICAN VICTORY IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS A FIRST STEP TOWARD NATIONAL ECONOMIC TURNAROUND

The biggest single change coming out of the 2022 election will be the shift from a hard left Democrat Party House to a conservative Republican Party. This change will affect everything from spending, to investigations, to committee actions, to what bills move.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

As a former speaker of the House, I know that a strong speaker can achieve remarkable results. In this last Congress, Speaker Pelosi passed trillions of dollars in spending and radical social policy bills with a mere five-vote majority. A new Speaker McCarthy can implement a remarkable number of changes and set the stage for a totally different pattern of governing.

The other big outcome was the enormous success of Republican governors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election was the most obvious example of dramatic change in a state. Florida had been competitive in 2018 when DeSantis won by only 32,463 votes. After four years of conservative, confrontational and remarkably successful leadership, he won re-election by 1.5 million votes. Four years ago, he lost the largest county, Miami-Dade. He carried it decisively in 2022. He also carried the Latino vote. Now, with four years of the DeSantis administration, Florida has been realigned as a Republican bastion.

Ron DeSantis cruised to re-election on Nov. 8. 

Ron DeSantis cruised to re-election on Nov. 8. 
(Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

The challenge for Republicans is to learn what led this election to be the least predictable election in my lifetime. They also must think through a clear, positive program that creates a vivid alternative of workable, doable solutions that solve the American people’s problems. This should represent 90% of their effort. 
The Commitment to America was a start, and I promoted it everywhere. But it didn’t become the center of the campaign the way the Contract with America did in 1994. The 75% who said America is on the wrong track want to know what Republicans will do to get America on the right track. McCarthy made a start in this direction, but the party system never drove it home and made it vivid.

The Republicans should spend 10% of their time on serious thoughtful investigations (not show trials or baseless mock hearings). The American people have the right to know about the corruption, dishonesty, inefficiency and law breaking that have occurred while Democrats had complete power.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Democrats have a totally different problem. In 1994, the size of the GOP victory led President Bill Clinton to admit that their leftwing policies had been repudiated. After that, he went to the Congress and said, “the era of big government is over.” Working with Clinton, we passed welfare reform, the largest capital gains tax cut in history, telecommunications reform, Food and Drug Administration reform, and ultimately four straight years of a balanced budget paying down the national debt. (This was the only time in modern history the budget was balanced for four straight years.)

This year, because the Republicans did not have the massive win that was expected, the Democrats will not be alarmed or inclined to change. But they should be. President Joe Biden was clearly self-satisfied during his hour-long press conference the day after the election. He seemed certain that there was nothing that needed to change. He offered to work with Republicans – but promptly pointed out he has a veto pen and can kill any bill he doesn’t like.

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The 75% of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track aren’t on the Democrats’ radar because they did not translate into losing House and Senate seats. The Democrats have 23 Senate seats up in 2024. The Republicans have only 10. Many of the Democrats are in increasingly Republican-leaning states such as Montana and West Virginia.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee June 22, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee June 22, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

If the Democrats relax because they dodged the bullet of an unhappy public, they may be in worse shape for the 2024 elections than they would have been if the Republicans had won big and forced them to course correct.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has already said publicly he believes it will take 6% unemployment to break the back of inflation. That would double the current unemployment rate. President Biden cleverly got big corporations to hold off on announcing layoffs until after the election. That probably helped in 2022. However, it also will make the economic pain bigger for 2024. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Meta (the company that owns Facebook) will lay off 11,000 people was the beginning of what may be an avalanche of pink slips laying off people.

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The radicalism in the schools will continue to frighten parents and anger most Americans.

The border will remain open and illegal immigrants, drug cartels and fentanyl will continue to pour into America.

This will set the stage for a decisive presidential choice in 2024.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM NEWT GINGRICH

For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com.

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