In William Shakespeare’s "Julius Caesar," Cassius says to Brutus: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Given the dismal Republican performance in the midterm elections, GOP leaders should heed Cassius’ advice.

They can blame no one person or entity for turning an expected red wave of victory into a tiny ripple of defeat. They came out of shallow election waters still in the minority, in the U.S. Senate and barely controlling the U.S. House of Representatives.

Many political and media pundits like to say that the abortion issue hurt many Republicans and caused them to lose races they should have won.

But how do they explain what happened in Florida?

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. are anti-abortion. They not only defeated their proabortion rights Democratic opponents — former Congressman Charlie Crist and former Congresswoman Val Demings — they crushed them by doubledigit margins: DeSantis beat Crist by nearly 20 percentage points — 59.4% to 40% — and Sen. Rubio rolled over Demings by 16 percentage points — 57.7% to 41.3%.

DeSantis’ message and record were clear: ending "Woke activism and Critical Race Theory" in Florida schools and businesses, lifting COVID-19 restrictions, and supporting parental rights in education.

One of the best messages of the campaign was Rubio’s TV ad attacking the radical left and his opponent, former Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings.

It’s vivid and bears repeating: "The radical left will destroy America if we don’t stop them. They indoctrinate our children and try to turn boys into girls. They allow illegal aliens and drugs to flood America. Then, if you speak out, they ban you on social media and call you a racist."

The ad’s powerful conclusion put the icing on the cake:

"I was raised by people who lost their country, I’m not going to let us lose ours."

In too many cases, Republicans let their opponents and the national Democratic establishment frame the issues.

From President Biden to former President Barack Obama to failed presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, there was a choreographed Democratic message that a GOP victory would threaten democracy.

So what was the unified chorus and message of Republicans?

The deafening silence of crickets.

Unlike 2020, when there was a powerful, unifying message of "Let’s Make America Great Again" (MAGA) — by Donald Trump — that GOP candidates echoed, there was no such message that would rally not only Republicans but Independents — and Democrats as well.

You know that the MAGA message was successful because it is hated by Democrats and Biden, to this day. They who love to deride MAGA Republicans.

How often did we hear Republican statewide candidates tell the media on election night and the days following not to call the race until the suburban and rural ("White") returns were counted?

Those votes would offset the urban ("Black/Brown") votes assumed to be mostly Democratic.

It’s interesting to ponder how many close statewide races Republicans could have won if they had made a significant effort in their messaging to attract Black voters. And, in the Florida races as discussed above; how those winning margins could have been made even larger.

Remember when Donald Trump asked Black voters, "What the hell do you have to lose?"

From what we saw in the midterms, such outreach and messaging to Black voters was virtually non-existent.

In close elections, every vote counts.

Just ask New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin who lost to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., by less than 6 percentage points.

Although Zeldin made gains with Asian, Jewish, and Latino voters, Hochul owes her election to Black voters who gave her a whopping 90 percent of their votes in New York City. If Zeldin could have just taken 10-15 percent of those votes from Hochul, he would be governor-elect!

The New York and national GOP should take the advice of three-term Republican New York Gov. George Pataki. He said that "winning a statewide race will remain out of reach unless Republicans make at least some inroads with Black voters.”

Republicans can boast about winning the House of Representatives, but incumbent Republican Senator Marco Rubio have defeated Val Demings by about the same margin.

How did this happen in a Florida, where, until the mid-terms, Democrats registered to vote outnumbered Republicans? Lack of campaign funds is often most cited as an important factor, with the party apparently scared off by DeSantis’ belligerent, scorched-earth style of governing and politicking generally. Between late August and early November 2018, Florida Democrats collected about $47 million, compared to $12 million in the same period this year, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Meanwhile, DeSantis spent $100 million in his re-election campaign and still had $90 million left over, Politico reported.

Registering voters was also a big problem for Democrats, with the Nov. 8 elections being the first in which more Republicans signed up to vote than Democrats, reflecting a net 26 new voters for every Democratic one, The Tampa Bay Times reported. In Miami-Dade, a traditionally Democratic stronghold, the number of registered Democrats actually fell. Even then, “when looking solely at the voter registration numbers, Florida should be a competitive state,” Daniel Smith, who chairs the University of Florida Department of Political Science, told the paper. He added that “there’s something going on with the Democratic Party infrastructure that is related to money but it’s also the message and perhaps the messengers.”

European American voters did vote for Democrats, Smith said, but younger voters and African Americans did not do so in large numbers. The party now has to “excite both those folks who always turn out to vote — older white Democrats — and those who are less reliable at the polls,” Smith said.

About half the number of registered Democrats turned out to the polls statewide on Nov. 8, compared to two thirds of Republicans, NBCMiami reported, adding, “DeSantis flipped counties President Joe Biden won in 2022: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Duval.” In Miami-Dade as Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy said in his recent column:

"The old GOP game plan of playing to a dwindling base of older white voters is a train wreck in progress.

"If they don’t offer independent and swing voters a positive reason to make the switch to them, they risk oblivion.”

Ruddy and Pataki are right.

The question is whether Republicans will heed their advice and change their messaging accordingly or will they continue to blame the "stars."

Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations and training consulting firm in Florida.

County, with 135,229 more registered Democrats than Republicans, 61 percent of Republicans voted, compared to 46 percent of Democrats. And, while registered Democrats in the county outnumber registered Republicans by 106,299, only 55 percent bothered to vote, compared to 66 percent of Republicans, NBCMiami said.

It will take Democrats “perhaps 5-10 years" to resolve the turnout problem, Fernand Amandi, a Democratic pollster and professor of political science, told NBCMiami. "They need to start immediately if they want to contest Florida in the future. Otherwise, Florida will stay a red state like California has stayed a blue state since the mid-‘90s."

Motivation is a key to such turnout and this was low-key in the state, with the Democratic Party evidently reluctant to engage with DeSantis in his cultural war, self-serving laws and executive actions on issues such as racial gerrymandering of congressional districts, costing the party four seats; dilution of a state constitutional amendment that kept tens of thousands of ex-felons from voting; and a nine-month wait to call a special election to fill the late Alcee Hastings’ House seat.

Candidate quality is also a problem, with Democrats needing “heftier candidates, not recycled combos,” veteran Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago argued in a recent column. “Republican candidates are groomed not to win one seat out of the blue but to develop political careers starting at the homeowner association level, then the city council, county commission, etc.,” Santiago wrote. “They don’t pluck a teacher out of the classroom at the last minute to run against experienced political rock stars. In general, Democrats in Florida lack quality candidates who can articulate a coherent, attractive vision on issues voters most care about, whether it’s education, civil rights or immigration – and I mean really communicate in a straightforward, credible manner, not fumbling around for a politically correct answer and delivering party platitudes, as so often happens.”

Those could be words of wisdom for those willing to listen.