At one time, having flat feet (i.e., fallen arches) was a disqualifying condition for serving in the military. If that were true in politics as well, the Republican Party would get a “4-F” as unfit for service.
The GOP, it seems, gets caught flat-footed — in this case, meaning unprepared and at a disadvantage — in one way or another every election cycle.
Take, for example, the runoff for Senate taking place in Georgia right now between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.
After neither candidate reached the necessary 50%-plus-1 majority of the vote necessary to win outright (due to a Libertarian third-party candidate who garnered just over 2% of the total), five days of early voting were set to begin Nov. 28, the Monday after Thanksgiving, ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff.
But five days of early voting apparently weren’t enough for Mr. Warnock and his fellow Georgia Democrats, who promptly ran to court seeking to push up the start date by two days, to Nov. 26, instead.
A state appeals court on Nov. 21 rejected state election officials’ efforts to retain the later early-voting start date stipulated in Georgia state election law. The state Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision.
Surprise, surprise: The ruling caught Georgia Republicans flat-footed.
In theory, at least, the earlier start to early voting shouldn’t advantage either party. As The Washington Times reported, however, “The Georgia Republican Party [hadn’t] organized Saturday voting in any of its strongholds, and only Democratic-heavy areas in major cities such as Atlanta [had] plans in place to open the polls on [Nov. 26].”
Republicans “should have been pushing for all  counties to offer Saturday voting,” said GOP pollster Matt Towery, a former Georgia state legislator, who explained that Republican-leaning counties “tend to be smaller and can’t gear up on short notice” for voting to begin earlier than expected in light of the ruling.
That failure came hot on the heels of the presumptive Republican “red wave” that failed to materialize two weeks earlier in the midterm elections. Then as now catching the GOP flat-footed, Democrats reduced the red wave to a rivulet by consistently outhustling Republicans across most of the country in early voting and mail-in balloting.
“A wave of envelopes containing mail-in ballots boosted Democratic candidates to victories in several key Nov. 8 races,” Susan Crabtree wrote in a Nov. 17 electoral postmortem, “Experts: GOP Botched Early-Voting Ground Game,” for RealClearPolitics.com.
But what makes the GOP’s getting blindsided on early voting over the Thanksgiving weekend in Georgia particularly incomprehensible is that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s resounding reelection there on Nov. 8 was made possible in no small part by beating the Democrats at their own (ground) game.
To varying degrees, depending on the state, the problem is at least partly of Republicans’ own shortsighted making, with enough GOP state legislators presumably having gone along with Democrats in approving turning Election Day into Election Month(s) of early voting, gratuitously expanding the use of mail-in and absentee balloting, authorizing ballot drop boxes (which the documentary “2000 Mules” showed can easily be compromised and should be abolished), and the routine mass mailing of unsolicited ballots, including to voters who have moved or died.
From the Clinton-era federal “motor voter” voter-registration law of 1995 aimed at padding the rolls with low-information voters to the now-defunct Secretary of State Project launched in 2006 aimed at electing partisan liberal Democrats to offices that are supposed to administer election laws on a nonpartisan basis, Republicans have been consistently caught asleep at the switch.
More recently, in the 2022 primary election season, Democrats and liberal dark money groups spent millions in Republican primaries seeking to help ensure that the GOP candidates they perceived as the most easily beatable would get nominated.
Republicans didn’t see that coming, either.
Given its being caught like the proverbial deer in the headlights seemingly at every turn, it’s remarkable that the Republican Party remains electorally competitive outside of red states and House districts.
Unfortunately for competitive, two-party (lowercase-r) republican government, the GOP is likely to continue to get caught flat-footed, at least as long as it continues to be led by hidebound, visionless establishment “leaders” like Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
The octogenarian Senate minority leader’s unwillingness to articulate a positive, base-energizing conservative campaign platform during the midterm election cycle, along with his refusal to help fund candidates who wouldn’t pledge fealty to him, were no small factors in the red wave that wasn’t.