The moderates have won the mid-term elections in the United States | Opinion

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It's not clear who will control Congress after Tuesday's midterm elections, but two things are: moderation can pay big electoral dividends, and Donald Trump has become an electoral liability for the Republican Party.

It is true that many extremist candidates have just been elected. According to New York TimesOn Tuesday, more than 200 Republican candidates who denied the results of the 2020 election or thought to do so won. In too many states, there are too many voters who are not revolted enough by the MAGA (Make America Great Again, Trump supporters) movement's attacks on the integrity of the election to make sure those deniers get into office. It is clear that extremist candidates who challenge America's democratic institutions retain some electoral chances.

But in virtually every state where voters had multiple Republican candidates for statewide office, the more moderate candidate won more votes. The “shared vote” has been declining for decades. As American politics has polarized, fewer voters are willing to support a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another. But now it seems that the trend is reversing. Last Tuesday, a significant number of voters shared their vote, that is, they supported the Republicans who have kept a certain distance from Trump and punished those who have flirted with the MAGA movement.

Trump's base still firmly controls certain sectors of the Republican Party. But the extremism of many of his candidates — as well as the moderation of some Democrats on especially important disputes — has been one of the main reasons why the anticipated “red wave” has not happened.

An example is Georgia.

Brian Kemp, the current Republican Governor, who was up for re-election, bravely resisted pressure to reject the state's 2020 election results. He survived Trump's furious attacks and a primary with a serious rival who, at times, It seemed that he was going to succeed. Kemp's reward has been an unequivocal victory over his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams.

Instead, Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate, won his primary with strong support from Trump. And, when he did get a chance to talk about something other than his personal scandals, it was to repeat the conspiracy theories of the MAGA movement regarding the 2020 election. Walker will get another shot at the seat in a second lap. But he has fared much worse than Kemp, since he has garnered about 200,000 fewer votes and trailed his Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock, by a narrow margin.

The same contrast has been even more striking in Pennsylvania. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for Senate, and Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, had Trump's support and have lost. But Oz, presenting himself as a more mainstream conservative and more focused on economic issues, lost to progressive Democrat John Fetterman by only about three points. Mastriano, a staunch member of the MAGA movement, who participated in the pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021, lost by 13 points to moderate Democrat Josh Shapiro.

The distributed vote has gained momentum above all because of the stark contrasts between some Republican candidates and others, such as Brian Kemp and Herschel Walker. But more subtle differences in the profile of Democratic candidates, such as Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams, may also have played a role.

Warnock has consistently supported the policies of the Joe Biden Administration and defends the rights of minority groups. But he has managed to combine those commitments with an emphasis on moderation and outreach to traditional Republicans. He is a former pastor, likes to talk about his religious faith, and worked hard to win over white, centrist voters in suburban Atlanta. He has even shot popular ads, like one in which he appears on a peanut farm while bragging about the legislative gains he has made in getting the two parties to work together.

Abrams followed a very different strategy. A firm believer in identity politics for the Democratic Party to win elections, given that the percentage of voters who are not white is increasing, he ran on a platform far to the left of Warnock. When polls suggested he was weakening his support among black men in Georgia, he dismissed the idea that his strategy might have rankled a traditionally Democratic but socially moderate demographic. In stead of, blamed his problems because it is a sector of the population that is very vulnerable to propaganda: "Unfortunately, this year, black men have been a population that has been highly attacked by disinformation."

Democrats who have paid more attention to the economy, moved away from the party's progressive wing and toward traditional Republican voters have done well in other states as well. In Ohio, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan failed to beat JD Vance, but fared much better than other Democratic candidates running in that state. Similarly, in Wisconsin, Tony Evers, the current Democratic governor, outperformed more progressive candidates, such as Senate hopeful Mandela Barnes, and won re-election, albeit narrowly. “Over the past four years, I have striven to meet [mis] promises,” he said, emphasizing his credentials as a moderate. “Some call me boring, but you know what, Wisconsin? Turns out boring wins."

David French, one of the leading anti-Trump conservatives (and a contributor to Atlantic), has summed up a crucial lesson from Tuesday's election. “Turns out the Republican base,” tweeted"I needed some of those people that you have been making fun of, who you have despised and bullied until you expelled them from the party."

Ultimately, the more Republican candidates align with the MAGA movement, the worse they fare, overall. The problem is, of course, that the activist wing of the GOP is perhaps too fascinated by Trump to learn the lesson. As unpopular as they are in the country at large, extremist candidates who did poorly in this election can still count on fan support within a large Republican primary voting bloc.

The rise in split voting shows that Americans have a real preference for moderates when they can vote for them. But the system that the two major parties use to choose their candidates can ensure that option does not appear on the ballot when it matters most, in November 2024.

The midterm elections have sent a clear message to both Democrats and Republicans. To have the best chance of winning the White House in 2024, choose a moderate candidate who is capable of reaching beyond the party's base. If both parties learn their lesson, we may be in for a less polarized and dangerous era in American politics. If you only learn it in one of the matches, you will have a huge advantage. If neither party learns it, anything is possible, including a second term for Donald Trump.

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