Guest Editorial by Yossi Gestetner: You Can’t Lose to the Loser and Claim to be a Winner
One of the oft-repeated claims in Republican politics regarding the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 General Election is that if only Republican Primary Voters chose differently, the party would have a better chance in the general.
It’s true that not every primary winner is the best general election choice. Still, the losers of primaries were certainly not best positioned to have won the general elections in the same cycle, or else they would have first won the primary whose voters make up a large block needed to win the general election.
Case in point: 2.4 million people voted for Dr. Mehemt Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate general election last year, which came in large part from the 1.4 million Republicans who voted in the primary, a primary that Dave McCormick lost by 951 votes. If Mr. McCormick couldn’t find 951 votes among one million eventual general election Republicans, if Mr. McCormick couldn’t find 951 votes from the almost million Republicans who didn’t follow Trump’s endorsement when they voted in the primary, then McCormick was not organized enough to have generated an extra 264,000 voters that Republicans needed to make up their General Election deficit. (Oz lost by this amount to John Fetterman.)
When one considers that primary voters make up a large junk of the general election vote, it throws into doubt the claim that “the primary is a different electorate.” The independents and cross-over voters who give someone a win or a larger win are atop the candidate’s own party voters showing up. You can’t do poorly in your party and win. Candidates confident in their ability to win a general election, if not for their party’s “crazies” getting in the way during a primary, should run third party.
The non-crazies of the party, independents, and cross-overs will carry the candidate to a win, yet this strategy generally fails because you can’t lose to the loser by 951 votes among 1.4 million voters and claim to be a winner if not for this loser being in the way. (If Mr. McCormick is potentially better organized for 2024 than he was in the past is not material to the point here of how that and other races played out. Candidates can improve.)
The same can be said about Ron DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination. If he were to energize enough Republicans in the general election to help secure a win, he would first need to get many of those same Republicans in the primary. If he can’t pull off the primary, too many Republicans may stay home for the general and, lead to a loss.
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