Ryan’s behind-closed-doors message that this is a “wake-up call” was echoed by National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Steve Stivers, though he wasn’t exactly embracing reality, saying “If you’re getting out raised, this is a wake up call.” While Saccone was out raised by Lamb, he benefited from millions in outside spending. Money was not the issue here.
But publicly, Ryan was clearly working from talking points that have been distributed to his members. “This was a one-off,” said Rep. Cris Collins (R-NY), echoing Ryan’s “not going to see repeated” message. “We’ve won five; they’ve won one. I’m feeling pretty good.” Nice try: Democrats have been massively overperforming their 2016 results, and of the 18 special elections for Republican-held seats so far in 2018, Democrats have flipped seven. Other Republicans pushed Ryan’s message that Lamb is so conservative he’s practically a Republican, but that’s a sharp contrast with what their own ads were saying just a couple days ago, as well as with Lamb’s positions on health care, taxes, and unions and his pledge not to jump on board with Republican anti-abortion legislation.
Losing is no fun. But Republicans are on track to do enough of it that they should probably improve their spin. This is pathetic.