The fact that Trump lost to Biden by an immense number-- 81.2 million votes to 74.2 million votes-- and that Biden picked up red states like Arizona and Georgia, as well as swing states that Trump had won in 2016 (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan), is only a jumping off point to in explain how the table is set for the 2022 midterm elections. Here's a very real example-- Trump lost the state of Maine with just 44.0% of the vote to Biden's 53.1% but, in the part of Maine that time left behind-- the rural 2nd congressional district-- Trump won convincingly:
Trump- 196,771 (52.5%)
Biden- 167,182 (44.6%)
That big win didn't do the trick for Republican congressional candidate Dale Crafts though. Crafts raised over a million dollars and Kevin McCarthy's Congressional Leadership PAC spent another $1.7 million on his behalf. Allied GOP PACs spent another million. But on election day, Trump voters didn't rally to Crafts' cause:
Golden (D)- 197,974 (53%)
Crafts (R)- 175,228 (47%)
Around 10,000 more people voted in the congressional race than in the presidential race. And while 21,543 Trump voters didn't bother casting ballots for Crafts, Golden won 30,792 more votes than Biden did! Golden is a definitional DINO-- a deceitful and worthless Blue Dog careerist who has undermined much of Biden's agenda and presented himself back home as some kind of an independent thinker. This cycle, his seat is a top GOP priority and former congressman Bruce Poliquin, who Golden barely beat in the 2018 blue wave election, is optimistic about the rematch... as long as he beats a deranged Trumpist Sean Joyce, in the primary. (The other Trumpist in the race, state Rep. Mike Perkins, was unvaccinated, got infected with COVID, was hospitalized, along with his wife, nearly died and dropped out of the race 2 weeks ago.) Crazy ME-02 is just the kind of district Trump has to deliver to the GOP if he's going to credibly take any credit for winning the midterms for his party. As of September 30, Golden had raised $1,639,133 and Poliquin, who no longer lives in the district-- but promises he'll move back-- has raised $883,172.
Across the country, both the Democrats and Trump are eager to make the midterms a referendum on Trump (rather than on Biden, the normal way the GOP would look to win this midterm). This morning, writing for The Atlantic, David Catanese wrote that Señor T "will own the midterms just as much as Joe Biden will. Voters’ verdicts on Trump will come in Idaho, Alabama, and Georgia this spring. Then in Arizona, Alaska, and Wyoming in summer. Trump has already endorsed candidates in 2022 primary contests in all of those states. He’s made picks in nearly 40 congressional races to date, most recently training his ammunition on the House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package. He’s made another nine endorsements in gubernatorial primaries, including one against the GOP incumbent in Idaho. The former president’s ultimate record in these races will serve as the first barometer of his continued strength as he eyes a comeback bid for the White House in 2024. So far, his picks have lifted challengers to GOP incumbents who have crossed him and a bevy of newcomers who are eager to align with his brand. Make no mistake: Trump is making these picks himself. 'I haven’t seen a time where Trump is more in control than now,' a Republican familiar with the ex-president’s staff told me on the condition of anonymity to protect private conversations within Trump’s circle. 'Susie [Wiles] ain’t making endorsement decisions. [Bill] Stepien ain’t making endorsement decisions. It’s a lot more him making these endorsement decisions than ever before.'" Although... a case can be made that Trump is taking advice-- at least in some races-- from Gang Greene, most of whom are verifiably insane. (This morning Twitter permanently banned Marjorie Traitor Greene's personal account. She is currently trying to raise her profile-- as well as cash-- by whining about her martyrdom and threatening to retaliate.)
German-born, gay Nazi billionaire and sociopath, Peter Thiel is trying to get Trump to endorse a slate of his own fascist-oriented candidates who he will be able to completely control. So far Trump has only endorsed one-- full on Nazi Joe Kent against Trump enemy and Washington incumbent Jaime Herrera Buetler-- but neither of Thiel's Senate priorities Blake Masters (AZ) and J.D. Vance (OR). Thiel has illegally offered to put millions of dollars into the "charity" of Trump's choice in return for endorsements for Masters and Vance. And Thiel-- who would like Trump to eventually appoint him to the Supreme Court-- is helping finance Harriet Hageman, the nothing candidate Trump has endorsed against his own arch-enemy, Liz Cheney. (Thiel and Trumpanzee Jr-- and his girlfriend, who is also listed on the invitation, even though Thiel's husband isn't-- are hosting a pair of fundraising events for Hageman at Thiel's Miami mansion this month, one for her own campaign and one for a SuperPAC supporting her which can avoid spending limits for super-rich donors.)
Catanese explained: "The full extent of the ex-president’s power will be measured by his ability to dislodge current officeholders, who already have their own bases of support. At this early moment, he’s most obsessed with a trio of targets: Representative Liz Cheney, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Governor Brian Kemp. At the top of the list-- with no immediate equal-- is Cheney, Trump’s most vocal GOP critic and foe. Trump talks about Cheney so much that she regularly comes up in meetings with candidates nowhere close to Wyoming, an adviser familiar with the conversations told me. Since endorsing Harriet Hageman, an attorney and former Trump critic, to take on Cheney, Trump has been engrossed with even minor developments in the campaign. On an almost weekly basis, he marks up printed-out copies of local-news coverage and op-eds with his signature Sharpie pen and mails Hageman notes of encouragement."
Trump is the only thing that could upend what should be a historic midterm for the Republican Party, Larry Hogan, the anti-Trump term-limited governor of Maryland who is mulling his own path to the White House, argues. “It’s the only way we can blow this thing,” he told me. “The people that may try to be more Trumpy to win a primary may be the least electable in the general. That’s the biggest worry I have for the Republicans.”
Given what happened in Georgia’s runoff elections, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which Trump meddles so heavily and recklessly in a battleground state that the fallout from the divisiveness costs the party a governorship or a precious Senate seat. He’s already suggested that Stacey Abrams, who just launched her second shot at the governorship and harbors her own White House ambitions, might be a better governor than Kemp.
Conversely, if Trump’s highest-profile picks run the table, he’ll look unstoppable and potentially head into 2024 as a stronger candidate than he was as an incumbent president in 2020.
Trump runs no formal endorsement process. Instead, he relies on spontaneous, freewheeling phone conversations. He’s certainly not seeking anyone’s approval to make a move, according to those at the other end of the line.
Although most Americans view lobbyists as agents of Satan-- for decade, Gallup has shown it as the most negatively-viewed profession in the world-- in Sacramento, lobbyists control the legislature of the country's biggest state and they are considered "respectable." Today, the Sacramento Bee featured an OpEd by one of the state's top slime bag lobbyists, conservative GOP operative Rob Stutzman, as though he were a just normal commentator. They didn't identify him as a lobbyist.
He used the opportunity to paint a rosy picture of a GOP takeover in November, but then warned that "what imperils the path to a majority for House Republicans are the truly dangerous crazies within their ranks who fetishize violence. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have all appeared to endorse violence against Democrats. Others such as Rep. Mo Brooks encourage conservatives to “fight for America” like Revolutionary War soldiers. Such rhetoric, which arguably amounts to terroristic threats against federal officials, apparently passes for American politics as usual today. But Republicans’ path to a majority could narrow if the horror of actual violence reemerges with the GOP’s looniest cheering it on."
The oxygen for this imperiling extremism is of course supplied by Trump, particularly his insistence that he is a president in exile at Mar-a-Lago, denying the validity of the past election. And the evidence being unearthed that Trump wanted to effectively conduct a coup d’état is staggering but not shocking.
Would a GOP House majority perpetuate Trump’s attempts to win in ‘24 by any means, including tampering with certification of the Electoral College vote? It’s too soon to know for sure. Certain Trump sycophants in Congress would be eager to go all-in on such treason, but it’s too early to assume the same of the caucus as a whole.
Some Republican members of Congress privately pray that Trump will not run in 2024. Their shameful retreat from linking him to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack shows they fear him, not that they are devoted to him.
For the moment, however, it appears Trump’s fascist tendencies are not dominating voters’ concerns. They’re more focused on what impacts their daily lives, including inflation, COVID weariness, unsettling spikes in crime and a supposed superpower stumbling through supply chain woes.
If not much changes, Republicans should have a successful 2022 election cycle. But the malignancy of those spoiling for political violence could still prove fatal to GOP gains.
This is the most recent YouGov polling for The Economist on a generic congressional vote as of today. It doesn't look quite as rosy as Stutzman and other conservative and establishment pundits are painting it for the Republican Party: