Republicans in 2024 are likely to repeat the disaster of 1964

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Republicans need to learn from the 2022 election and think about a path to victory in 2024.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recruiting of female, minority and veteran candidates — and prolific fundraising ($485 million) — helped House Republicans win seats for a second straight election despite losses in a number of elections. other parts of the GOP.

Similarly, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s emphasis on opening offices in minority districts has paid off. Latino and Asian voters shifted far more toward the GOP.

Nonetheless, 2022 has involved plenty of shocking defeats and disappointments. And 2024 promises to be potentially even more dangerous for Republican hopefuls.


I worry about the possibility of 2024 becoming 1964, when Republican Barry Goldwater was wiped out by Lyndon B. Johnson. I lived through 1964 and saw how deeply divided a party can devour each other.

The Republican presidential defeat in 1964 was so divisive that it brought down GOP congressional candidates, governors, and state legislators. It took years to recover (in the US House, we didn’t fully recover until the 1994 Contract with America campaign).

I remember the disaster vividly because in 1964 I took a year off to manage a campaign for Congress in North Georgia. I was deeply involved in the campaign process that year, and it unfolded in a fascinating but horrific way. It was a bit like watching a car crash that you couldn’t stop.

President Johnson had succeeded President John F. Kennedy after the latter was assassinated on November 22, 1963. It is likely that Johnson would have been re-elected because the American people did not want a third president in less than two years.

However, in a normal election year – if faced with a united Republican Party – Johnson would likely have won a relatively narrow victory. The GOP would not have been particularly shaken. However, when the bitterly divided Republican nominating process ended, Republicans were so divided that Goldwater received only 38.5% of the vote and won only six states.

When Goldwater collapsed, Republicans lost 36 House seats and were down to 140 members. In the Senate, Republicans lost two seats and fell to 32 seats. The Republicans won’t regain a majority in the Senate until 1980.

Goldwater lost so much because the personal bitterness between the conservative movement and the mainstream Republican Party grew intense and out of control. When Governor Nelson Rockefeller spoke at the GOP National Convention in San Francisco, he was booed. The moderate wing of the GOP openly ridiculed and attacked Goldwater. The tenor of the campaign was captured by Ambassador Bill Middendorf in a book called “Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement”.

In this “glorious disaster,” the seeds of the future were sown in October 1964, when an actor named Ronald Reagan delivered a brilliant nationally televised speech titled “A Time to Choose.” (It’s still available on YouTube and well worth watching.) It raised a remarkable amount of money for that era and launched Reagan on a 16-year quest for the presidency. In this sense, Goldwater strategically helped change America while collapsing in the immediate election.

Republicans in 2024 are likely to repeat the disaster of 1964.

Republican candidates who focus on eliminating their main opponents rather than solving America’s problems will further alienate millions of Americans who are fed up with the negative and destructive attack approach.

If Republicans are unlucky (and after the failed 2022 election, there’s no reason to believe Republicans will be lucky two years from now), then the Donald Trump faction will refuse to support any candidate other than Trump. , and the anti-Trump faction will refuse to support Trump if he is the candidate.

A 2024 election in which the GOP is deeply divided and angry with itself would be a historic disaster similar to 1964.

In that situation, President Joe Biden — or whoever the Democrats nominate — would take office with huge majorities in the House and Senate. America would continue to evolve into big government socialism and revival, and America would become poorer, weaker, less free, and more vulnerable to enemies who want to replace us as the world’s leading power.

President Trump has the power to bring together all the major candidates and agree to limit campaign attacks. Policy arguments are acceptable. Personality-based attacks guarantee bitterness and division.

Candidate Reagan relied on the “11th Commandment” formulated by California GOP Chairman Gaylord Parkinson.

Simply put, the command said, “You shall not speak ill of any Republican.”


This rule would cripple the viciousness and destructiveness of paid consultants who rely heavily on finding weaknesses and trying to cripple or destroy their opponents through negativity (which Republicans clearly failed in 2022).

It would also require discipline and courteous mutual respect between candidates.

The American people are deeply tired of contention and negativity. They are eager for a return to normalcy (to use a phrase from the surprisingly successful Republican campaign of 1920).


Without some constraints and some efforts at mutual respect, the GOP will tear itself apart and we will have historically failed the American people – while putting the future of our country in the hands of a hard left movement that despises everything we stand for. .

This is a big decision moment for Republican leaders.

Hopefully they put the country first.


For more Newt Gingrich commentary, visit


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