Toxic Trump hinders Republican Party at midterms

The self-coronated kingmaker won't accept that his supposed Midas touch has turned into a fetid finger

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If the US midterms confirmed anything, it is that Donald Trump is not very good at winning elections.

The former president, who lost the popular vote in 2016, lost control of the House of Representatives in 2018 and lost everything in 2020, once again showed that his toxic brand of politics is not what most Americans want.

Tuesday’s elections should have been a straightforward proposition for the Republicans. Americans are fed up with soaring petrol prices, persistent inflation and with President Joe Biden, whose popularity remains stuck at about 40 per cent or a little higher.

Just as Barack Obama saw his Democratic Party suffer a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterms, Mr Biden was primed to experience a similar wipeout — or so the Republicans had us believe.

But instead of seeing their predicted “red wave” crash across the country, the Grand Old Party was left staring at a whole lot of dry land on Wednesday morning.

True, they look poised to secure a narrow victory in the House of Representatives. But with Senate control still to be determined and the Democrats securing big wins in Pennsylvania, the Republicans cannot claim a popular mandate.

In short, they had a wretched night, notching marginal gains in what should have been an easy sweep.

The postmortems, already under way, must focus on Mr Trump and the disastrous role his non-stop intervention in races across the country played.

While he had some wins, such as in Ohio, where his chosen candidate JD Vance won the Senate race, the midterms generally served as a rebuke to the former president, his divisive style and his baseless claims about the 2020 election being “stolen” from him.

In Michigan, a clear majority of voters countered Mr Trump’s war on democracy by approving a measure making it easier for people to vote. The Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate lost, as did his pick for secretary of state.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats secured the governorship after the Republicans fielded an election-denying candidate supported by Mr Trump. In Arizona, Mr Trump's pick for governor, Kari Lake, was trailing Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs.

The list goes on, but notably also includes an easy victory for Georgia Republican Brian Kemp, who kept his governorship after he distanced himself from Mr Trump and his election lies.

Another Republican rewarded for his disloyalty to Mr Trump was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who won re-election in a landslide. The 44-year-old leader has cut a clear path away from the former president and is preparing for a probable White House run in 2024.

On election day, Mr Trump released a four-page memo touting all his achievements in the run-up to the midterms.

Instead of reflecting on the Republican Party’s relatively poor showing, Mr Trump on Wednesday boasted of “174 wins and nine losses” on his Truth Social media platform and blasted the “Fake News Media” and the Democrats for playing down the “amazing job” his candidates had done.

This vainglorious lack of insight poses a real risk for the Republicans. The self-appointed kingmaker can't accept that his supposed Midas touch has turned into a fetid finger.

Mr Trump has all but declared he will be making another run for the presidency in 2024, teasing a big announcement for November 15.

His grip over the Republican Party is such that he might win the nomination, but Tuesday’s elections underscore just how many Americans have grown weary of Mr Trump's desperation to remain in the limelight.

It's not clear whether the Republican Party writ large will read the tea leaves.

But The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News continues to support Mr Trump, appears ready to choose a new king, proclaiming Mr DeSantis as “DeFuture”.

Published: November 09, 2022, 8:10 PM