The midterm elections have forced Donald Trump to ask himself questions about his political future. AP
It was meant to be the crowning moment for Donald Trump, but it turned out to be a damp squib.
The United States midterm elections, which was believed to reveal a Red Wave, turned into a night of missed opportunities and disappointments — and rumblings of unrest within the Republican party. As Johnathan Freedland wrote in The Guardian — ‘The loser is … Donald J Trump’.
So underwhelming was the performance of the Republicans in the elections that Donald Trump’s appearance at his Florida country club Mar-a-Lago, which was supposed to be a moment of triumph, became a muted affair with the former president delivering a short speech, calling it an “interesting evening”.
We examine why the midterm results could serve as a setback to Donald Trump, who had earlier indicated that he would run for the 2024 elections with his ‘big announcement on 15 November’.
Trump-backed candidates fare poorly
Donald Trump had made the midterm elections all about him — picking and choosing his preferred candidates. Over the course of the midterm elections he had endorsed over 330 candidates, held 30 rallies and raised millions of dollars.
His involvement in the midterm elections was unprecedented — no other former president had involved himself in the polls as Trump had. In fact, during an interview, he had said, “I think if they win, I should get all the credit.”
However, voters had another thing in mind. In many races, his candidates lost or were trailing, even as counting of votes continue.
Several prominent Trump-backed candidates lost without much of a whimper; gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland lost out to their Democrat rivals. In Michigan, his pick for governor, Tudor Dixon, failed to unseat Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.
Michigan served a double blow to Trump when current Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson defeated Republican Kristina Karamo, who has been very vocal in her support of the 2020 election being ‘stolen’ from Trump.
House candidates JR Majewski in Ohio, Karoline Leavitt in New Hampshire and Yesli Vega in Virginia, and Don Bolduc, who he endorsed in the New Hampshire Senate race all tasted defeat.
In Arizona, Kari Lake and Blake Masters, who had campaigned together as “America First” candidates in Trump’s mould, were behind in their races for governor and Senate, respectively, although results were too close to call.
Former US President Donald Trump With Republican Senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz. Oz lost to the Democrat John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race. AFP
Perhaps, the two biggest blows to Trump came from Pennsylvania and Georgia. In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman defeated Trump-backed Dr Mehmet Oz in the most expensive Senate race in the country.
In Georgia, the former football player Herschel Walker, the candidate in which Trump had perhaps been the most invested personally, was trailing Democrat Raphael Warnock in a tight Senate race that appeared set to go into a runoff election.
However, Trump can take solace that there were some wins. One of the more prominent ones was that of Ohio Republican JD Vance, who edged out Tim Ryan to hold that state’s Senate seat.
The LA Times also reported that in the races where Trump-backed candidates won, their margins ran well behind other Republicans.
Rumblings within the party
With Trump-backed candidates not performing as expected, his political acumen has now been questioned.
Republican leaders as well as Conservative media almost immediately criticised Trump, questioning if he should be the leader and pointing out that his toxic politics wasn’t garnering the support it had in previous years.
“Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff,” David Urban, a longtime Trump adviser with ties to Pennsylvania, said in an interview, as per a New York Times report.
The same report also had Peter King, a long-time supporter of Trump, saying, “I strongly believe he should no longer be the face of the Republican Party,” adding that the party “can’t become a personality cult.”
Even Fox News, which has been very vocal in their support of Trump, reported that the midterm results was the former president’s most vulnerable moment since the 6 January riots at the Capitol.
Ron DeSantis stands tall
Perhaps, the most concerning aspect from the midterms for Trump was the win of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The 44-year-old Republican swept to a nearly 20-point landslide victory over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a margin that Republicans haven’t seen there in two decades.
Incumbent Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey and their children on stage after speaking to supporters at an election night party after winning his race for reelection in Tampa, Florida. AP
Four years ago, it was Trump who had backed him and supported him. This time around, however, DeSantis didn’t ask for the former president’s help, earning him the ire and nicknames such as ‘Ron DeSanctimonious’.
Now, DeSantis’ win puts him in a good position to be seen as a strong White House contender, much to the ire of Donald Trump — who is reportedly all ready to announce his third presidential bid.
This feeling was voiced loudly by Mike Cernovich, a right-wing commentator who was once described by Politico as an “indefatigable Trump cheerleader”.
“Trump has zero shot at 2024 in general. After tonight, this isn’t up for debate,” Cernovich tweeted on Tuesday night. “DeSantis in 2024 or accept total defeat”.
Election Night clearly wasn’t the showing that Trump expected to be and the coming months will show if America is actually ready for another Trump presidency. But in the meantime, the one message that the midterms served up was: Trump wasn’t on the ballot, but he managed to lose anyway.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: November 10, 2022 13:25:21 IST