Ryan Girdusky’s Reasons the GOP Lost: 2020 and Abortion

BUCK: We’ve got our friend, the numbers man, the political wonk Ryan Girdusky, with us now. His very excellent Substack newsletter is the National Populist Newsletter, which you should all check out. His latest piece here is Midterm Post Mortem Finale, and the subheadline says: Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes. Ryan, great to have you back.

GIRDUSKY: Thank you for having me.

BUCK: All right. So, let let’s just start with what do we need to learn from this midterm, right? I mean, we, this audience, very up to speed, obviously, on, you know, who won, who lost, and some of the broad themes. What are the takeaways in that the data now and explain how the data does make it pretty ironclad.

GIRDUSKY: Okay, so first and most importantly, there was no youthquake. The media has had this narrative coming out that there was this giant army of young Gen Z people voting Democrat — didn’t happen at all. They did vote Democrat, but they came out at a smaller level than they did in 2018, and they actually voted more Republican. The data shows it. Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, they are the ones who analyze the youth vote every year. They said it. David Shor, the brilliant liberal data analyst, looked at all the counties where young voting was down, all of them, didn’t happen whatsoever.

Secondly, abortion, major, major, major driver for independents and people who disliked Biden but didn’t hate Biden. So people who had a slight unfavorability were driven towards Democrats for two reasons: Abortion and denying the 2020 election — really, really, really drove them away in very strong numbers. And you can see it in the issue of Arizona.

In Arizona, there were nine statewide candidates, five of them Republicans won or are winning. Currently four lost. The four that lost all around the election was stolen. The five that won did not talk about the election being stolen. That was a major, major indicator. And that’s probably why Trump yesterday during his hourlong announcement, didn’t mention the election being stolen whatsoever.

A lot of people were also motivated to vote against Trump. More were motivated to vote against Trump than were motivated to vote against Biden, which is very, very, very unusual. And that’s why independents, while Republicans have larger turnout numbers, Republicans really did a good job turning out to win the popular vote, but it was swaying against a swing against independents and people who only lean Republican that really had a big effect.

Candidate quality. Let’s talk about that for a second. Candidate quality does matter to a point. So there’s a guy named Tom Horne. He’s currently winning and unseating an incumbent Democrat in the state of Arizona, for Superintendent of Public Instruction — used to be the superintendent for the whole state. He is a 70-something year-old man with a lot of history, a lot of baggage, a lot of negative stories about him in the media. He’s running against bilingual education, running against CRT, the EI, yada, yada, yada. Why? Because he talked about the issues that really affected people that were popular, that were conservative. He never ran away from them.

But he didn’t delve into abortion and he didn’t delve into the 2020 election. Reverse that with the guy who ran in Pennsylvania for governor, Doug Mastriano, talked nonstop about the election that he won to imprison women and charge them with murder. If they had an abortion and said Jesus Christ himself would intervene in the election to make sure that he won. Huge mistake. And one other thing and then we’ll go to I’ll let you guys talk, but…

BUCK: It’s cool. It’s cool

CLAY: It is our show. But, yeah, I appreciate it.

GIRDUSKY: It’s your show, right? A lot of Republicans way overperformed in a lot of blue areas that didn’t matter. So Republicans had all-time highs in New York City congressional elections, all-time high. In the Los Angeles congressional election, they overperform Biden by ten something points in some of these places. It’s just in the places that they needed to overperform. They consistently underperformed. That was problematic.

They did much better with Asians, somewhat better with Latinos and rural blacks, blacks who live in the black belt of the South. And I think that lastly, we got a lot of questions right now. Why are Republicans now reelecting all the people in leadership, McConnell, McCarthy, yada, yada, yada? How are they being rewarded?

There’s an organization on the left called ActBlue. ActBlue connects 21 million small dollar Democratic donors to campaigns. It’s how John Fetterman was able to raise $75 million for his Senate campaign on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars for other congressional campaigns, 15 million against Marjorie Taylor Greene in a super safe Republican district.

Republicans don’t have anything close to this on our side. And the only thing that the Republicans candidates have to lean on are Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell and their super PACs. And I think that’s one reason why they’re doing well, post a fairly not good midterm election.

CLAY All right, Ryan, that’s fantastic. I love when you come on and just break down the data for us, so let’s play it forward. If you were looking at the data that you have seen in 2022 and you were saying what needs to happen for a Republican presidential candidate to win in 2024? And we understand it’s two years away and that the issues can change and everything can evolve in many different directions. But would it be fair to say no one can talk about the 2020 election and denying it, that there needs to be some form of abortion policy that is put in place, whether it’s like, “Hey, I believe that you should be able to have an abortion, you know, up to 15 weeks or whatever it is.” I’m talking about a national candidate who’s going to win some of these purplish states.

What would have to happen for Republicans to win in ’24? Given what you’re talking about happened in Arizona, in Georgia, in Pennsylvania, in Nevada, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, all those states out there where this election’s going to be decided.

GIRDUSKY: Yes, the 2020 election can never be revisited. It’s just, it’s over. You could talk about ballot harvesting. You could talk about tracking. You could talk about whatever you want. But if you bring up, at this point — in anything close to a suburban district and you bring up the fact that the 2020 election was stolen — you’re going to lose. It’s just the case, you’re going to lose. That is it. It drives college-educated white voters away and there are more of them than there are of minorities.

CLAY: Ryan, basically sorry to cut you off, but they basically branded that so well. Democrats did for even independent, college-educated voters that, if you’re even touching that, it’s like a third rail for independent voters — you lose.

GIRDUSKY: Yeah, think of it like like privatizing Social Security, something that oh, I know candidates like Rick Scott and Blake Masters also campaigned on, another third rail. You could privately believe it. I don’t care. There’s a lot of things people privately believe but don’t talk about in polite society at this point. It seems so toxic to people, even people who dislike Joe Biden, that if you bring it up, there’s a good chance you will lose talking about it.

That is why Donald Trump, in an hour-long speech, did not mention once that that 2020 presidential election was stolen because of the data that is out there. The polls have shown this. People that you need to win big elections do not believe that you do not like talking about that. And they really have believed the whole, you know, MSNBC lineup that democracy is under a threat. And it feeds into the narrative that and the abortion conversation that Republicans are against your freedoms. Republicans talk like they are all at a Trump rally or a CPAC conference. That definitely hurts them.

And, furthermore, about abortion. You mentioned abortion before. If a candidate says, I’m pro-life, without exception, it is as detrimental to a Republican as a Democrat saying I want to defund the police. That is how badly it polls. So when you hear somebody saying that, remember, independents are hearing defund the police, that is the same exact knee-jerk reaction, I think. And I think personally the federal government does not have any role to play in abortion law. It never did before in 1970-something. It never will, hopefully never will again. The states should decide. Just sit there and say, I don’t support. I do not want the federal government being involved in your abortions. I just don’t want it. You have to take a more libertarian stance. That is the way the public is on the issue and just back away from it. Pro-life governors did win, though, last week by huge margins in Ohio, Texas, Florida, Georgia.

BUCK: Yeah, Ryan, one more thing. This is running up against the clock and people should subscribe if you want to really see what’s going on in politics across the country, the National Populist Newsletter that Ryan has on Substack. And we’ll put it up at ClayandBuck.com so people can find it easily.

Ryan, one more for you on this. You know, I can’t tell you how many text messages I’ve gotten in the last week from people who are involved in campaigns. And what they all keep saying to me is we have to get the message to the top. If we tell people to just show up on Election Day, if we do not run mail-in ballot campaigns ourselves, if we do not use the rules as they are currently in place, it doesn’t matter who some of these candidates are or who the presidential candidate is, they will lose.

GIRDUSKY: Absolutely. That’s 100% sure as well. This romanticization that we have towards only voting on Election Day is very asinine. If you believe that they’re going to screw with the machines on Election Day, that’s fine. Go vote early. We give them sometimes months to vote early. I don’t agree with it, but as long as those are the rules in place, you need to take advantage of the rules.

If I was on Herschel Walker’s campaign right now, which I’m not, but if I was, all I would be doing is collecting early ballots and distributing them and dropping them off either at drop boxes or to the Board of Elections or whatever the case may be. But making sure people vote early and getting the numbers.

That’s why before the polls closed in Florida, DeSantis had already won. He won Miami-Dade a week before Election Day because they had gotten the Republicans out in large enough numbers that they knew Miami-Dade was over. They knew the whole election was over a week out. And it’s very nice to sit there and have that position where you’re comfortable enough to sit there nd know you’re going to win so far in advance. It’s a turnout method. It’s also swing independent voters. But the turnout method, don’t wait until Election Day. Vote early, vote often. And vote by any means necessary regardless.

BUCK: Ryan, appreciate you breaking it down for us. Great Substack piece on your midterm post mortem. Thanks so much.

GIRDUSKY: Thank you.