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Republicans Are Paying The Price For Ignoring Off-Year Elections

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Ignoring off-year elections produces its consequences — and Republicans are finding that lesson out the hard way.

On the same day Joe Biden made a campaign appearance in Madison, Wisconsin, the Badger State’s leftist-controlled Supreme Court arbitrarily authorized the use of ballot drop boxes in November’s election. The Friday decision reverses a 2022 ruling by the court’s then-conservative majority that determined the deployment of drop boxes in the 2020 election violated Wisconsin law and prohibited them from further use.

The leftist majority’s ruling — while contradictory to state law — is a big win for Democrats, who used the presumably “Zuckbucks“-funded boxes to push Biden across the finish line during the 2020 contest. While Wisconsin voters have since prohibited the use of “Zuckbucks” in elections, the high court’s reauthorization of drop boxes will undoubtedly be used by Democrat ballot traffickers during the November elections.

But it didn’t have to be this way.

While Republicans and conservative influencers were distracted in spring 2023 with the 2024 GOP presidential primary — months before candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis jumped in the race — Democrats made flipping control of Wisconsin’s highest court a top priority.

As my colleague Matt Kittle recently reported, Democrat Janet Protasiewicz raised $14 million ahead of the April 2023 election, most of which came from the Wisconsin Democrat Party and out-of-state leftist mega-donors. Republican Dan Kelly raised a mere $2.6 million. This funding discrepancy doesn’t even take into account the major get-out-the-vote operations leftist groups conducted on Democrat-friendly college campuses throughout the state.

Any hopes that losing control of a supreme court in a pivotal battleground state would prompt the GOP to take off-year elections more seriously didn’t last long.

A few months later, Democrats won a Pennsylvania Supreme Court race that allowed their party to maintain its 5-2 majority. Democrats and out-of-state leftist organizations heavily outspent Republicans.

Much like Wisconsin, control of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court plays a pivotal role in election administration. During the 2020 contest, for example, then-Democrat Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar unilaterally waived the commonwealth’s signature verification process for mail-in ballots. Despite not receiving approval from the state legislature, Boockvar’s guidance was upheld by the Supreme Court’s Democrat majority.

These judicial elections are but a microcosm of the many off-year elections Republicans have lost in recent years.

Republicans Lack a Political Movement

Dumping a few million dollars into a race while saying, “We’re not Democrats” is not a sufficient campaign strategy, as recent elections have shown. Winning elections requires unifying around a focused vision backed by a well-funded and committed political force dedicated to that message.

It also demands competing against Democrats’ election machine. That means Republicans must work with on-the-ground conservative groups to target low-propensity GOP voters and chase their ballots ahead of Election Day.

Until Republicans engage in self-reflection and overhaul the way they approach campaigning, they will continue to lose.


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