The topic of “candidate quality” has been discussed recently to rationalize Republicans’ poor performance in last Tuesday’s elections. It’s been repeatedly pushed by many on the Right as the main reason for the Republicans’ failure. But blaming “candidate quality” is foolish and an oversimplification. If candidate quality truly matters as much as some have claimed, why do Democrats continue to win elections while nominating low-quality candidates?
Consider Pennsylvania Senator-elect John Fetterman. Some have argued that the reason why he won was that his opponent wasn’t a good candidate. This might be true. However, it is important to highlight that Dr. Mehmet Oz graduated from two Ivy League schools — Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a former cardiothoracic surgeon. He had flaws but wasn’t exactly a slouch, either. Yet, he lost to a guy who had a record of releasing violent criminals back on the street.
Additionally, Fetterman was caught lying by a debate moderator on his position on fracking and previously pointed a shotgun at an unarmed black man who he suspected of committing a crime (evidence showed the man was innocent). Yes, he was the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, but his overall record and performance were abysmal.
Fetterman even admitted he broke the law while pursuing the unarmed black male suspect. Furthermore, Fetterman looked like a character out of a horror movie, dressed like a complete slob, and made such genius commentary while pandering to Philadelphia voters about their favorite NFL franchise, as “The Eagles are so much better than the Eagles!” There is no way he was legitimately a “quality candidate.” Yet, he was elected.
Additionally, consider Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
AOC was first elected in 2018, and she had to defeat Congressman Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent and the Democratic Caucus chairman at the time. Given that she was working as a waitress and a bartender before her 2018 Congressional campaign, it’s safe to say that, at the time, Crowley was a much better candidate. Yet, AOC won quite convincingly. One can say many things about her, but not one of them is that she was a “good-quality” candidate.
But her victory is the perfect example of why blaming candidate quality is a fool’s errand.
She’s not a serious person. She lacks the gravitas of a “good-quality” candidate. A few days ago, she posted an Instagram video of herself apologizing for not declaring her pronouns. Previously, she posted a video of herself providing “intellectual and sophisticated” political commentary while building IKEA furniture. She’s a gaffe machine and arguably hates everything that made America great. But, she defeated a very experienced and powerful politician to get into Congress and was just overwhelmingly elected to her third term.
Another example is “Native American” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren, a white woman, deceived people for decades by claiming she was of Cherokee heritage. In 2018, it was revealed that Warren identified herself as an “American Indian” on her applications to colleges and law schools. Many suspect she did this to help gain admission to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University through race-based affirmative action programs.
Then Warren tried to justify her heritage claims by releasing a video where she reads results from a DNA test showing very little Native American heritage. She was heavily criticized, and the Cherokee nation rebuked her and called the DNA test “inappropriate and wrong.” It’s inconceivable to claim Warren was a “good-quality” candidate, yet Warren won over 60% of the vote in 2018. Allegiance to left-wing politics drove Warren’s campaign success, not the quality of her candidacy.
Another New England politician, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), is another example of a bad candidate who won election. During his campaign in 2010, it was revealed he embellished his military service about serving in Vietnam. However, his stolen valor did little harm to the campaign, and he was victorious, receiving 55% of the vote.
In some areas, candidate quality is so irrelevant that one needn’t be alive to win elections.
Such was the case in Pennsylvania when Democrat Tony Deluca won reelection as a state representative. Deluca was an incumbent who served nearly 40 years in office but unfortunately passed away on Oct. 9 from lymphoma. Clearly, Deluca was popular in his district. However, it’s hard to fathom that a deceased candidate was better than an alive one. Deluca still won with 85% of the vote. Again, ideology drove the vote, not candidate quality.
And while it would be foolish to dismiss the effect of candidate quality on elections entirely, Democrats have repeatedly shown it is not the end-all, be-all requirement many try to make. As referenced above, plenty of poor-quality candidates get elected by Democrats. Using this as the primary reason for the Republicans’ poor performance on Nov. 8 would be extremely short-sighted. Republican troubles go far beyond individual candidate quality.
Decades of left-wing indoctrination in schools, colleges, the media, and the culture have altered the political landscape. Nearly half the voting population doesn’t subscribe to Republican beliefs or values, especially young voters — the demographic that saved Democrats from a red wave. Beliefs and ideologies will continue to be more important than a candidate’s perceived quality — especially for the Left.