Election 2022

Republicans are blaming Donald Trump for underwhelming midterm election results

Donald J. Trump
Donald J. TrumpPhoto: Shutterstock

With control of Congress still uncertain on Wednesday morning following Tuesday’s midterm elections, one thing is clear: the “red wave” predicted by many Republicans failed to materialize. Many pundits on the right are angry at Donald Trump for that disappointment and questioning his prospects should he run again in 2024.

“Donald Trump was a major drag on Republicans, from his picks to his antics,” tweeted The Daily Wire‘s Ben Shapiro. “Trump picked bad candidates, spent almost no money on his hand-picked candidates, and then proceeded to crap on the Republicans who lost and didn’t sufficiently bend the knee. This will have 2024 impact.”

Many of the former president’s hand-picked candidates lost their bids for office on Tuesday. Tim Michels (R) lost to Wisconsin’s incumbent Gov. Tony Evers (D), while in North Carolina, Trump-backed Republican nominees Bo Hines and Sandy Smith lost to their Democratic opponents. In New Hampshire, Don Bolduc (D) lost to incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D). And in one of Tuesday’s most high-profile races, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) defeated Trump pick Mehmet Oz (R), flipping Pennsylvania’s Senate seat.

Meanwhile, in Arizona and Colorado high-profile Trump Republicans are still neck and neck with their Democratic opponents. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) trailed Democrat Adam Frisch by a slim margin as of Tuesday morning, and Democrat Katie Hobbs was slightly ahead of Republican Kari Lake in the race to become Arizona’s governor.

“Tonight’s results lie squarely at the feet of Donald J Trump,” one Republican strategist told The Independent on Tuesday. “Had he not endorsed extremely flawed candidates in the primary, we would be having an amazing night tonight. Instead, we are losing very winnable races.”

“There’s a potential narrative out of this night that if you’re a discerning Republican voter trying to figure out the future, direction of this party, we once again learn that Trump is not a national winner for the Republicans,” conservative commentator Scott Jennings said on CNN, adding that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) decisive victory may show a way forward for the party. “But DeSantis may be the next evolution of someone who can marry what you like about Trump but also recover some people that went away from the party during Trump.”

At an election night party held by Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), one Republican operative echoed that sentiment. “What we’re seeing tonight is that Republicans want a genuine conservative but without the pushback that Trump gets from voters,” they told the Financial Times. “Ron DeSantis might just give us that.”

In a post to his Substack newsletter, conservative commentator Erick Erickson insisted the key takeaway from Tuesday’s midterms was that the GOP needs to ditch Trump. “The voters thoroughly rejected trump-backed candidates,” he wrote.

He blamed Trump directly for Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania, while also referencing Hines’s defeat in North Carolina and Lake’s underperformance in Arizona.

“The pattern is too noticeable. Trump-backed candidates were very, very weak and many of them lost,” he wrote. “Traditional Republican candidates won. The GOP could have done much better had it picked better candidates. Candidate quality matters, and Trump picked bad candidates.”

Even conservative news outlets like The Washington Examiner ran op-eds explicitly laying the blame for Republicans’ weak midterm performance on Trump.

Voters in battleground states seemed to back up these claims. According to Reuters, exit polling from Edison Research on Tuesday found that six out of 10 respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

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