The GOP Is Borking The Rust Belt

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate with arms raised celebrating a win.
Janet Protasiewicz celebrates her win.

A bit of good news the day after a very dark day for our democracy, the expulsion of two duly-elected representatives (who are also Black) from the Tennessee State House. The insane strategy of White Nationalist Fascism is hurting the Republican Party, in an area they need to do well in to win the presidency in 2024: the Rust Belt.

The race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat was not even close. In a state that Biden won by a mere 0.6%, Democratic candidate Janet Protasiewicz won Tuesday’s election by 10 points. She destroyed her Republican opponent and gave Wisconsin a 4-3 liberal edge in the state’s supreme court.

This race was won because of two particular voting blocs: women and young people. Voters aged 18-29 tripled their share, throwing more wood on the funeral pyre for The Myth of the Lazy Young Voter which has been growing and growing since 2018. Abortion once again was a factor, as Protasiewicz crushed it with women. Perhaps most surprisingly, she repeated whatever secret sauce John Fetterman displayed with rural voters Greg Sargent from the Washington Post has the ugly details for the GOP in this Twitter thread.

Speaking of Twitter, Worst Former Governor in America Finalist Scott Walker apparently is realizing that the GOP might be in a bit of trouble:

Of course, Scottie’s idea of “undo years of liberal indoctrination” likely will involve more than just Young America Foundation nonsense. Probably will feature some more bannings, because can’t have the young ‘uns learning about reality.

Beyond Wisconsin, there are other bad signs for the Republicans around the Rust Belt. I mentioned Pennsylvania, where Fetterman outperformed Biden in almost every county. I should also mention our governor, Josh Shapiro, who is a gifted speaker and a rising star in the party, did much the same.

Curiously enough, Fetterman and Shapiro sort of mirrored their opponents. Fetterman, with his bald head, goatee, imposing size, and hoodies, was considered the “eccentric” candidate. The losing Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, is also bald and also “eccentric” in that he is completely insane, is an election truther, and openly poses in Confederate uniforms. My fellow Pennsylvanians said no thanks to the craziest guy at the diner counter, Mastriano, and yes to the guy who seemed like he would say “yeah sure, I can help you move your mom’s stuff to her new trailer on Saturday,” Fetterman.

On the flip side, the losing candidate for Senate, TV Snake Oil Huckster Dr. Oz, attempted the Glenn Youngkin, “gosh I am just like you look at my fleece vest, suburban people” approach. Youngkin may have won the Virginia governorship in 2020 but he has since dropped the mask and demonstrated he is as awful as White Boot Guy Ron DeSantis or any other of them. While Oz ran a terrible campaign, his loss may have something to do with people not falling for the regular guy shtick based in part on what is happening in nearby Virginia.

Michigan, of course, was the main jetty that broke the Republican Red Wave. Democrats swept all the state races, and Right-Wing Kidnapping Target Gretchen Witmer won reelection to Michigan’s governor seat. She is currently demonstrating to the rest of the party how it is done after you win. I have often felt that Democrats, at least some, ran the model that they can win elections and then pretty much ignore their core constituency while practically kissing the feet of far-right voters who probably will not vote for them even if they gave them a Trump gold toilet. Michigan Dems are not having any of that.

Caveat: I strongly believe that Democrats should do everything they can to peel off votes from my rural neighbors, which can be huge in statewide races. But too often Democrats in the past seemed to think the way to do that was wishy-washy centrist obsessions with the deficit and policies designed not to upset Wall Street donors. The party seems to be a lot different now and is getting that such an approach does not work.

Even Ohio, with a Republican governor and Mee-Maw’s Hedge Fund Son JD Vance occupying one of the Senate seats, did not really have a Red Tidal Wave. Democrats in Ohio held House seats that Republicans were confident about winning, a big reason for the much tighter-than-expected margins in the House of Representatives for Republicans.

Republicans really need Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania if they want to win the White House in 2024. While it is true that a lot can, and will, change from now to November 2024, the Republicans are not starting from a position of strength. And based on antics like what transpired this week in Tennessee, they only have themselves to blame for that. I will add one final note: Democrats need to be ready for one inevitability. Republicans will not combat these weaknesses by changing their ways. They will combat them by doubling down on the fascism and attacks on voting.

The last word goes to Gary Clark Jr. and his powerful protest song, “This Land.”