Georgia was the last play of the game and Republicans fumbled the ball. Now, the Monday morning quarterbacks are out in full force.
Some Republicans continue to blame the referees for any loss. Following the lead of the team captain, some Republicans are questioning the integrity of the runoff election results and are turning a blind eye to the possibility that turnout for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue had anything to do with the players’ performance or the decisions of their starting quarterback, Donald Trump.
Instead, they prefer to tell themselves that members of their own team — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger — tilted the scales in favor of the opposition for the second time in a matter of months.
As any sports insider could tell you, blaming the officials instead of improving gameplay is only a path to future losses. If the team performed so poorly that the ref’s calls changed the outcome, then perhaps the loss is deserved. So why did the Republicans take the “L”?
For starters, the star quarterback let the team down. President Trump failed to perform in the general election. His head wasn’t in the game. He spent the weeks leading up to the election calling plays that voters didn’t care about. He ran the Hunter Biden offense, play after play, without realizing that he was losing yardage on the issues voters cared about. He fumbled the ball during the debates and got sacked by his opposition to mail-in voting during the pandemic.
Trump spent more time criticizing the announcers from CNN than he did criticizing Biden’s policies. He even trash talked Fox News, the voice of the home team.
When the game in Georgia was on the line, Trump continued to make the same mistakes. Instead of allowing Sens. Loeffler and Perdue to energize the base, he focused on $2,000 stimulus checks (a play out of the other team’s playbook) and questioned the soundness of the state election process. By calling the game rigged, he likely deterred many of his own fans from showing up to participate.
The coaching staff also made some errors. Many politicians followed Trump’s playbook even when it began to fall apart. Instead of working to sideline Trump, they echoed his talking points. The strategy boosted fundraising for the faithful but didn’t score points with voters.
The Republican Party’s terrible 2020 season could leave some fans with a bad taste in their mouths. If the election outcome wasn’t enough, Trump coaxing Republican football fans to become soccer hooligans bent on vandalism and intimidation probably did. But, although the 2020 season was a bust for Republicans, there is time to rebuild the team.
Republicans must watch the game-day footage to find out how they can win back support from suburban and minority voters—two growing fan bases that helped carry Joe Biden to victory. The GOP must be cautious on draft day to select candidates who can become well-rounded franchise stars, rather than players who could potentially spiral out of control.
Republicans need to stop blaming the officials and start analyzing the real reasons they lost the game. Otherwise, Democrats will be dancing in the endzone for many seasons to come.
James Bowers is a Republican strategist and a partner at the D.C. public affairs firm Berman and Company.