Republicans Have a Donald Trump Problem
November 21, 2022
For months, Republicans have been extremely confident about their performance in the midterm elections. Republican operatives have been saying that “It will be a red wave! – no, it will be a red tsunami.” House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said “we will win 60 seats in the house,” while other Republican leaders have been confident in their chances in the senate. None of this happened and the Republican party majorly underperformed in the election. Who is to blame and what are the steps forward for the Republican party?
In every midterm election since 2002, the party in charge has done horribly. In 2018, when Trump was president, the Democrats picked up 41 seats in the house. In 2010, when Obama was president, the Republicans picked up 63 seats in the house and 7 seats in the Senate. 4 years later in the 2014 midterms, the Republicans picked up 9 seats in the senate which gave them their biggest majority in the senate since 1928. In 2006, the Democrats gained 36 seats from the Republicans in the house. This trend stopped in 2002 when the Republicans did not lose seats in the house but after 9/11 happened in 2001, the country was united so the party in charge did not lose power. When all the results are finalized in this 2022 midterm election, the Republicans might barely win the house and will most likely stay in the minority in the Senate. It was an embarrassing performance for the Republicans and former president Trump is the one to be blamed.
Despite leaving office nearly 2 years ago, Trump is still incredibly unpopular. According to a CNN exit poll, only about 37% of voters in this year’s midterms expressed a favorable view of the former president, with around 6 in 10 viewing him unfavorably. These numbers are surprising because usually when a president leaves office, he/she gains favorability because people stop focusing on them. Trump has forced people to pay attention to him because he has remained in the political spotlight. He has consistently gone on talk shows to express his opinion and with the new social media account, Truth Social, Trump has been able to get his views across to his followers with ease. More importantly, Trump played a crucial role in the midterms by campaigning for and endorsing many candidates. Spoiler alert: Trump-backed candidates in swing states performed poorly.
In the Senate, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Don Bolduc in NH, and Hershel Walker in Georgia were all endorsed by Trump and ⅔ have already lost. Walker lost in the vote total but since the winner did not receive 50% of votes, his race is heading to a runoff. Walker and Oz were peculiar choices. One was a TV star and the other a football star. Neither had any political experience. Because of this, it was surprising that Trump endorsed these candidates. In Georgia, if a typical Republican politician ran for senate, they may have fared better. Their gubernatorial candidate, Brian Kemp, a career politician, handily won his election. If Trump supported a normal candidate like Kemp for the senate, the Republicans would already be celebrating in Georgia. In gubernatorial races, Trump-backed candidates also performed poorly. In Pennsylvania, Douglas Mastriano, a right-wing election denier, lost his election by nearly 800,000 votes. For a swing state, an 800,000 vote margin is unprecedented and almost never happens. Due to Mastriano’s right-wing ties and friendliness with Trump, he was crushed, further showing how Trump hurt candidates in the 2022 midterms.
However, Trump still remains confident in his ability as a politician. He recently announced his candidacy for president for 2024 and is hoping to be the first non-consecutive term president since Grover Clevland. Unfortunately for Trump, after his poor performance in the past 3 elections, his influence over the party is dwindling and new Republicans are slowly taking his place. In Florida, Governor Ron Desantis easily re-won his election and many people in the Republican party think he should be the nominee for president in 2024. Republican senator from Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis, recently said that “currently, Ron DeSantis is the leader of the Republican Party.” Another potential foe to Donald Trump’s chances of being the nominee in 2024 may come from his old vice president, Mike Pence. In many recent interviews, when asked about whether he would support Trump in 2024, Pence has said “I think we’ll have better choices than Trump in 2024.” It is certain that Trump will have a primary challenger and his road to the white house will not be easy. He is counting on his popularity and experience to carry him to the white house, but as the 2022 midterm elections show, the country is losing interest in Trump and right-wing extremism. I would not be surprised if he loses in the primary and doesn’t even make it to the general election.