Overall, Republicans excelled in Florida and did quite well in North Carolina. The state will soon be free from hyped-up judicial activism that paralyzes the people’s will and plagues our separation-of-powers principles. I wrote a column in August saying that Republicans in the state would outperform the GOP nationally. That assessment turned out to be accurate, but, like many, I wildly underestimated the poor performance of their party in a midterm with a highly unpopular president with deeply flawed policies. 

If you’re a Republican strategist or kingmaker with any kind of power, you should be engaging in some serious self-reflection. 

As has been said endlessly, especially since it’s true, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the biggest winner. He showed Republicans how to expand the electoral map without compromising core principles. Voters rallied to DeSantis’s freedom message because the contrasts were clear and easy to discern. Regardless of who won across the country, voters sensed that middling candidates in both parties offered them little. With their built-in advantage, incumbents won out along with the status quo. Nationally, the trench warfare continues. 

Here at home, Republicans achieved supermajority status in the state Senate and a “functional supermajority” in the state House, as some refer to it. The state House races finished one member short of a supermajority. 

Gov. Roy Cooper is further diminished and can no longer lean on the courts to implement his agenda. He can either continue to rail against his opposition or govern as a centrist while working with his political opponents. His schtick of calling the opposition extremists does well with the donor base and activists, but it hasn’t built a coalition for him to govern or expand his own struggling political party across the state. While Democrats gained ground in court-ordered redistricting of the congressional maps, it’s a temporary mirage. The map will change again in a way more favorable for the GOP in 2024. 

Democrats once again lost another U.S. Senate race in North Carolina; they should consider running more moderate candidates in a state that is clearly trending redder. They haven’t won a U.S. Senate race since Kay Hagan’s victory over Elizabeth Dole in 2008. 

In many respects, red areas are getting redder and blue areas bluer. Republicans will have to improve in urban areas like Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Specifically, that means appealing to younger voters. Of course, Democrats face severe problems within rural regions across the state and nation.

Ultimately, the good news is that America, its people, and its destiny aren’t determined by elections. That is not an idea that percolates on cable news or even on social media very often, but it’s true. Yes, Washington, D.C., is still broken, but that is true no matter who wins or controls Congress. While receding in some respects, we are still very much a self-governing society. I’m reminded of this fact when I make poor lifestyle habits or struggle to engage with friends and family. 

The point is that political change, while important, isn’t and shouldn’t be the most significant determining factor for rescuing culture and improving life in our spheres of influence. When we make elections the penultimate of society, that’s the fastest and surest way to lose our liberties. Keeping everybody hooked on politics is the imagination and dream of the progressive left. Yes, conservatives have a lot of work to do to reclaim lost ground, but unlike the ideologue, we don’t rely merely on the political realm to do it. That’s the good news if we can learn how to harness that simple truth. 

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation