As Republicans continue to try to figure out what happened to the red wave on election night, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t mince words about the nationwide “underperformance” of Republican candidates at a press conference on Thursday.

Readers of course know that the triumvirate of McFailures – House leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate leader Mitch McConnell, and RNC chair Ronna McDaniel – flopped badly in likely the most favorable GOP election since 1980.

DeSantis and the Florida GOP did the opposite – cleaning house.

The Florida Governor took the GOP to school, saying he and his fellow Florida Republicans “showed the party how it’s done” when it comes to winning elections.

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Red Wave Should Have Happened

Republicans underperformed in other places, but in Florida, election night was a good one. Not only did DeSantis win reelection by roughly 20 points, Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Rep. Val Demmings to hold onto his Senate seat. Republicans holding state wide offices also won their elections handily, and several seats flipped from blue to red.

It is a riddle the Republicans will have to solve if they want to be more successful in 2024. Republicans won the popular vote by a margin of 51% to 47%, but those numbers did not translate into winning many new districts.

What was supposed to be a GOP majority of perhaps 245 seats, became a thin majority of 222 seats.

With President Joe Biden’s job approval ratings in the 30’s, 40-year high inflation, soaring gas prices, and crime surges in almost every large city, why was this not a no-brainer for the Republican Party?

DeSantis explained why Republicans were so successful in the Sunshine State, “I think what we’ve done in Florida is we’ve shown that we’ve exercised leadership, we’ve not kowtowed, we’ve been willing to take on big interests … but producing results, and then that ends up attracting more people to want to be on your team. That was not something that was happening, you know, throughout the rest of the country, but I think that we really showed, I think, how it’s done in the state of Florida.”

Which Republicans can say the same? When is the last time you recall Congressional Republicans winning anything, even when they had total control?

When Republicans held the House and Senate, they couldn’t even bring themselves to fork over $3 billion for President Trump’s wall. 

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The Nagging Question of 2024

For many in the Republican Party, 2024 will come down to a contest between DeSantis and former President Donald Trump.

Trump announced his run for the White House last month. DeSantis just sailed to reelection in Florida, and has been consistent in saying that is what he is focused on.

During Thursday’s press conference – which was about getting things done for Florida, and particularly hurricane response – reporters asked DeSantis, “What is your take on Donald Trump being back in the news everyday, and while you enjoy a healthy Republican Party in Florida, nationally the Republican Party is divided. What is your take on those two things?”

DeSantis didn’t take the bait. 

So let’s wrap up here: DeSantis and Florida Republicans focused on actually working – and the results paid off. Nationally, what even was the message of the GOP? Could you even sum it up? 

The Republican Party would do well to study Florida and act accordingly.

“If you do good work, the people respond,” DeSantis said. 

And if you don’t, you lose. Take note, GOP. 

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Becky Noble

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