Marge whines Herschel lost because he told her to stay away from his events and refused to have her speak for him— except at “2 or 3” in her own backward north Georgia district, which she says she found “extremely insulting.” That sounds as likely the cause as Politico’s latest theory: COVID. Trump’s pollsters are telling him that his “misguided and unreliable management of the public health crisis cost him the 2020 election [and that] there is evidence that the demographic change spurred by Republicans’ and Democrats’ divergent responses to the pandemic likely cost Republicans a number of key seats in the 2022 midterms. And the fallout, fueled by cross-country migration and even the Covid death toll, could linger into 2024 and beyond… [T]he pandemic drove urban professionals who were able to work remotely— disproportionately Democrats— out of coastal, progressive cities to seek more space or recreational amenities in the nation’s suburbs and Sun Belt. This moved liberals out of electoral districts where Democrats reliably won by large margins into many purple regions that had the potential to swing with just small changes to the map.”
While discounting neither of these theories for the GOP’s poor midterms showing, I’ll opt for a more straight-forward explanation: Trump. One thing we know; it wasn’t GOP turnout. They voted. “In state after state,” reported Nate Cohn this morning, “the final turnout data shows that registered Republicans turned out at a higher rate— and in some places a much higher rate— than registered Democrats, including in many of the states where Republicans were dealt some of their most embarrassing losses. Instead, high-profile Republicans like Herschel Walker in Georgia or Blake Masters in Arizona lost because Republican-leaning voters decided to cast ballots for Democrats, even as they voted for Republican candidates for U.S. House or other down-ballot races in their states.
Georgia is a fine example. While Walker may blame turnout for his poor showing in November and earlier this week, other Republican candidates seemed to have no problem at all. Gov. Brian Kemp won by nearly eight points over Stacey Abrams; Republican candidates for House won the most votes on the same day.
Yet Senator Raphael Warnock won in Georgia anyway because a large group of voters willing to back other Republicans weren’t willing to back Walker.
Trump recruited and cleared the field for unelectable candidates like Herschel Walker. Their losses and the dismal midterm results are starting to take a toll on Trump. This new YouGov poll, released this morning, shows Trump with a 55-40% unfavorability rating. Only 16% of voters think Trump helped the GOP in the midterms, while a huge plurality—42%— say he hurt Republican chances. Worse for him, a majority of voters think Trump shouldn’t run in 2024; only 31% of voters think he should.
In the same poll, Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican were asked who they preferred as their 2024 nominee. Trump is still ahead… barely and far less so than in previous polling.
Señor Trumpanzee- 35%
Ron DeSanctimonious- 30%
Not sure- 12%
Mike Pence- 5%
Nikki Haley- 5%
Glenn Youngkin- 2%
Chris Christie- 2%
Mike Pompeo- 2%
Liz Cheney- 2%
Larry Hogan- 1%
And when asked to chose between Trump and DeSantis… an exact 42-42% tie! And slightly more (43-42%) think DeSantis has a better chance twin in 2024 than Trump does (although voters think Biden would beat either of them). Asked if they agree with the statement that “the only thing Trump cares about is himself,:” 53% agreed and just 34% didn’t. Asked if Trump is a racist, 47% say he is and just 38% say he isn’t.
Writing for Politico yesterday, Alex Isenstadt summed up Trump’s month: very bad. Instead of jumpstarting his 2024 campaign— remember, Trump says he’s running for president— buoyed by a team of newly elected MAGA allies, he has a long list of failed candidates he saddled the GOP with: Herschel, Blake Masters, Mehmet Oz, Kari Lake, Tim Michels, Adam Laxalt, Doug Mastriano, Tudor Dixon, Don Bolduc… and those are just the tip of the iceberg.
“The losses,” wrote Isenstadt, “have raised new questions about Trump’s political strength and capped off what those close to him concede was a nightmarish month, one that has left the former president badly wounded just as he is embarking on a new campaign. Trump lieutenants have been forced to reckon with everything from the ex-president’s much-criticized dinner with the antisemitic rapper formerly known as Kanye West and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, to a campaign launch that was widely panned as low-energy, to a widening net of legal investigations on subjects including his conduct before and during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and his handling of confidential documents.
[T]here are mounting questions about whether the GOP is looking to move on— from suburban voters in Georgia to the party’s well-heeled donor set. Prior to Walker’s loss, private equity executive Stephen Schwarzman, who gave $3 million to a pro-Trump super PAC during the 2020 campaign, had said he will not back the former president in 2024. Miriam Adelson, who with her late husband, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, gave $90 million to a Trump-aligned super PAC, has been telling people privately that she won’t get involved in the 2024 GOP primary.
…Behind, the scenes, Trump lieutenants moved to deflect blame for Walker’s loss, attributing his defeat to a cascade of Democratic spending that drowned out the Republican candidate. And while the former football star had been Trump’s handpicked candidate, they noted that the former president had played little role in the month-long runoff, not even visiting the state to campaign for him.
Indeed, Trump allies argued that had the former president been more active in the race, voters aligned him would have been more motivated to turn out for Walker.
Some in Trump’s camp expressed criticism of the GOP’s decision to thrust Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp into the forefront of the race. Trump backed an unsuccessful challenge against Kemp in this year’s primary after Kemp refused to aid his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election. While Trump stayed out of the state during the runoff, Kemp hit the trail with Walker and lent his voter turnout apparatus to the national party.
“Weak establishment Republicans continue to scheme and work against the America First agenda, even if it means jeopardizing a Senate seat because they refused to fight alongside President Trump and the movement,” Cheung said.