Donald Trump is being largely blamed for the midterm red wave that never happened, with Republican strategists pinning the party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterms on his selection of ‘flawed’ candidates.
Trump endorsed some 300 candidates, held 30 rallies and raised millions of dollars for his ‘army’ of candidates. It was supposed to be the amuse-bouche for a Presidential run, intended to set him up for a sweeping 2024 success.
But overnight, many of Trump’s chosen candidates crashed and burned.
Five of his chosen candidates – Bo Hines (North Carolina’s 13th District), Sandy Smith (North Carolina’s 1st District), Mehmet Oz (Pennsylvania State Senate) and Tim Michels (Wisconsin Gubernatorial Race) and Lee Zeldin (New York Gubernatorial race) – all lost.
Early analysis also shows that in counties with Trump-backed candidates, the Republican vote share increased by just 1.3 percent compared with 6.9 percent in counties where he wasn’t involved in the race.
Republican candidates who defied him, like Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp, stormed to victory: the Florida Governor flipped the Democrat stronghold of Miami Dade county and Kemp, who has long denied Trump’s election fraud claims, defeated Democrat Stacy Abrams by nearly eight points.
Cautious while the remaining results trickle in, Republicans launched a stinging post-mortem on Wednesday morning and harked back to Mitch McConnell’s August warning that poor candidate quality could stop the party from flipping the Senate.
‘This is a pivot point for the Republican party. Donald Trump is no doubt in the rearview mirror. It is time to move on with the party,’ Geoff Duncan, the Republican Lt. Governor of Georgia, told CNN.
Donald Trump, pictured last night at a Mar-a-Lago election event, is being widely blamed for the Republicans’ underwhelming performance in yesterday’s midterms
The man of the moment: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis swept to victory, flipping the Democrat stronghold of Miami Dade county. Now, he is being heralded as the future of the GOP and is emerging as a favorite for a 2024 run
Brutal post-mortem: Lt. Governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan (L) said Trump was ‘in the rearview mirror’ while former Gov. of New Jersey, Chris Christie, said he is to blame for ‘poor candidate quality’
Trump, ignoring the races where his favorites lost, said it had been a ‘GREAT EVENING’, praising the ‘amazing job’ of some ‘fantastic candidates’
Ignoring the races where his favorites lost, he told followers on Truth Social that it had been a ‘GREAT EVENING’. In an interview yesterday, he said he deserved credit if Republicans won – but shouldn’t be blamed in the scenario of a loss.
Duncan, the Lt. Gov of Georgia, said Republicans would have had better success with a different pool of candidates.
‘It turns out Mitch McConnell knew what he was talking about with candidate quality,’ he said, referring to McConnell’s prediction in August that poor quality would impact the result.
‘If they would have just woke up 12 months ago, and stopped taking his lead and took the lead of what real Republican, real conservative policies meant and mattered, we’d be in a different place.
‘I wouldn’t want to be the one delivering him the news last night or this morning as to what the results of the candidates they supported and poured money into were, it’s time to turn the page. I’m ready to move on.
‘Who knows. Donald Trump is moving from a movement to a distraction for the Republican Party now.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, during an appearance on Good Morning America, said Trump’s instincts were ‘about himself’ and not ‘about the party’.
‘The big problem is that everywhere, the atmosphere and nationally, where Republicans lost, they lost because we had inferior candidates.
This is a pivot point for the Republican party. Donald Trump is no doubt in the rearview mirror
Lt. Gov of Georgia, Geoff Duncan
‘Mitch McConnell previewed this.
‘Almost every one of these Trump-backed candidates lost. It shows his political instincts are not about the party, they are not about the country, they are about him.’
Doug Heye, former spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, told The Independent that Trump was to blame for poor candidate quality across the board, but said issues like the overturning of Roe v. Wade may have contributed to a general straying from the Republican party.
Erick Erickson, a longtime GOP commentator, told the Washington Post: ‘Candidate quality matters.
Early analysis also shows that in counties with Trump-backed candidates, the Republican vote share increased by just 1.3 percent compared with 6.9 percent in counties where he wasn’t involved in the race
As of 6.30am ET, eight Trump backed candidates had lost including one senate race, four house candidates and three governors
TRUMP-BACKED… AND ELECTED: JD Vance, the bestselling author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ defeated 10-term congressman Tim Ryan in Ohio. Ted Budd won in North Carolina (right)
‘They weren’t good candidates. They had more allegiance to him than anything else.
‘The GOP might still win both [chambers] but this is not the night they expected.’
His constant teasing of whether he will or won’t run in 2024 may have put off swing voters, as the midterms effectively turned into a referendum on his politics.
Other Trump backed stars such as JD Vance secured victory and more results are incoming, including the nailbiter in Georgia between MAGA supporter Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock.
As of 6.30am ET, of the five Trump backed Governor candidates who have had results declared, three had lost, with four more results to come.
The former president lost four of the six House candidates he endorsed, and one out of the six senators.
Bill Palatucci, a member of the Republican National Committee from New Jersey, said: ‘Trump candidates were a drag on the party and the messaging of all our candidates.
‘We were constantly having to distance ourselves from their support of the former president.’
Trump’s picks lost high-stakes contests in Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire.
The New York Post on Wednesday heralded Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the future of the GOP
After summoning reporters and his most loyal supporters to a watch party at his Mar-a-Lago club, he ended the night without a triumphant speech.
Nonetheless, he took to his social media platform to insist he’d had ‘A GREAT EVENING.’
In the biggest shock of the night, Dr Oz, who had been endorsed by Trump during the primary, lost to Democrat John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Fetterman had faced questions about his fitness for office after suffering a stroke just days before the state’s primary, but nonetheless bested TV’s Dr Oz in a major rebuke to Trump.
Former NFL star Herschel Walker, who was heavily backed by Trump, is in a too-close-to-call race in Georgia and could face a run-off.
Democrats also held a crucial Senate seat in New Hampshire, where incumbent Maggie Hassan defeated Republican Don Bolduc, a retired Army general who promoted Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
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Ron DeSantis raced to a comfortable win over Charlie Crist – the biggest win since the Reconstruction era of the late 1800s
Fetterman BEATS Dr. Oz in crucial Pennsylvania Senate race
Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman beat Dr. Oz in the must-win Pennsylvania Senate race in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
”I never expected that we would turn these red counties blue, but we did what we needed to do,’ he continued. ‘And that’s why tonight I’ll be the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania,’ Fetterman added.
A short time later, the White House said President Joe Biden texted Fetterman congratulations.
Fetterman had faced questions about his fitness for office after suffering a stroke just days before the state’s primary, but he nonetheless bested Republican Dr Mehmet Oz in a major rebuke to Trump, whose endorsement helped Oz win his competitive primary.
Pro-Trump House candidates J.R. Majewski in Ohio, Karoline Leavitt in New Hampshire and Yesli Vega in Virginia were also rejected by voters.
It wasn’t all gloom for Trump, as he helped lift Republican Senate candidates to victory in Ohio and North Carolina.
JD Vance, the bestselling author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ defeated 10-term congressman Tim Ryan, while Rep. Ted Budd beat Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
While campaigning for Vance on Monday, Trump teased an announcement for his presidential run.
‘We want nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow. You understand that,’ Trump said at a rally.
‘I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15,’ he added, saying the announcement would come at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida.
Longtime GOP strategist Douglas Heye told DailyMail.com Trump was a distraction for many voters.
He said: ‘When someone says they don’t want to detract, get ready for some detracting.
‘Trump is all about Trump and after months of being on the sidelines – good months for Republicans – Trump had to make it all about him. Again.’
Another Republican strategist said that the results are already ‘baked into the cake’ and the former president throwing his name into the mix will have little effect.
‘I think the cake is baked on the 2022 election and the specter of a Trump candidacy probably has little to no effect at the outcome. Had he announced his candidacy in advance of the election it might have been a different story,’ said strategist Ken Spain.
Strategist Jim Dornan told DailyMail.com Trump announcing on Monday could have been a ‘real problem’ for Republicans.
‘Thank goodness he held off from announcing anything last night.
‘That could have been a real problem in many of these close races,’ he said.
Donald Trump and Former First Lady of the United States Melania Trump talk to the media after voting at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center, Palm Beach, Florida, Tuesday, November 8, 2022
‘Regarding next week, I think an announcement this quickly after the midterms may indicate some concern on his part that he’s losing his grip on the party and frankly, he’d be probably right about that.’
Georgia likely heading for a December runoff
Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock holds less than a one point lead over Republican ex-NFL star Herschel Walker in the key Senate race that will likely head to a runoff election in December that could decide which party takes the majority.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Warnock was up by about 31,000 votes, leading Walker 49.4 to 48.6, on a night that Democrats across the country defied the odds and a GOP red wave failed to materialize.
Warnock had 1,922,548 votes to Walker’s 1,891,284.
If neither candidate breaches the 50 percent threshold, the race heads to a December 6 runoff, per Georgia’s election law.
A third-party Libertarian will likely prevent either candidate from cinching a majority.
The path is reminiscent of 2020 for Warnock, when he was forced into a runoff with then-incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler and came out on top.
‘I don’t think however it changes the landscape significantly as far as who gets into the primary or not,’ Dornan added.
He noted that potential contenders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is term-limited out of office in 2027, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2026.
‘So would [DeSantis] forgo 2024 and look to 2028 when he would have been out of office for two years? Would Youngkin wait for 3?
Trump’s numbers aren’t as strong as they were, so I think the fear factor among other would be candidates is dissipating a bit,’ Dornan said.
In the midterms, many Republicans who backed his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election lost key races to oversee elections in some competitive states.
Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro on election night.
Mastraiano was seen outside the Capitol on the day of the January 6 insurrection and regularly communicated with Trump as the then-president tried to reverse his loss to Joe Biden.
The state’s governor appoints the secretary of state, who is the top voting official.
In Minnesota, Republican Kim Crockett, who echoed some of Trump’s lies about voting, lost her bid for secretary of state, which in most states is the position that oversees state elections.
In Michigan, Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson declared victory over Kristina Karamo, a community college instructor who became one of the most prominent election conspiracists in the country.
And in New Mexico, Republican Audrey Trujillo, who cheered on Trump’s effort to reverse the voters’ will in 2020, lost to Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Races in Arizona and Nevada, major swing states where election conspiracists were competing for secretary of state positions, remained too early to call.
But many democracy advocates and Democrats were cheered by the initial tallies in political battlegrounds.
‘Ultimately, some voters likely chose candidates in part because they were committed to telling the truth and protecting election integrity,’ said Ben LaBolt, a Democratic strategist.
Still, in Republican-leaning states, some election conspiracists did win secretary of state offices.
All told, half of the 22 Republicans vying to be secretaries of states – and overseeing elections in most states – have repeated Trump’s election lies. Seven endorsed his attempts to overturn the will of the people and remain in power.
Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul clings on to BEAT Republican Lee Zeldin in New York
New York Democratic governor Kathy Hochul managed to turn back a challenge from Republican Lee Zeldin to cling to the governor’s mansion in what had become a competitive race in a Blue-leaning state.
The race tightened in the polls in recent weeks as Zeldin, a U.S. Republican House representative, hammered Hochul on crime and other issues while getting a Donald Trump endorsement and fundraising support from the former president.
NBC called the race for Hochul, and she tweeted she was ‘deeply honored’ to have been elected. She was leading 55-45 with nearly two thirds of the vote in Tuesday night.
Zeldin refused to concede, telling supporters his position would improve as more votes come in from Long Island.
In a further blow to Trump’s ambitions, potential Republican presidential nominee Ron DeSantis won decisively over Charlie Crist.
Voting finished at 7pm and such was the margin of victory – at least 17 points – that the Associated Press called the race in a little more than an hour.
By the early hours of Wednesday morning he had a 19.4-point lead with 99 percent of the votes counted, wrapping up a landslide.
Having secured a second term, 44-year-old DeSantis has cemented his position as a star of the Republican Party and a possible 2024 candidate.
In his victory speech, he described the battles he fought in first term as COVID-19 shut down the country and culture wars erupted.
Those were the arguments that powered him on to the national stage. And the scale and nature of his win – racking up votes in the former Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade – will excite supporters with one eye on the White House.
The 44-year-old frequently tops polls of who Republicans would like to run for the White House in 2024 – if former President Donald Trump sits it out.
For his part, Trump sees the danger and has been firing shots across the governor’s bows.
At a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump unveiled a new nickname for him: ‘Ron DeSanctimonious.’
And on Monday he issued a veiled threat.
‘I don’t know that he’s running. I think if he runs he could hurt himself very badly, I really believe he could hurt himself badly,’ said Trump.
He went on hint he was ready to go on the attack with personal details.
‘But if he did run I could tell you things bout him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him other than perhaps his wife – who’s really running about his campaign.
The Senate is still on a knife-edge, with all eyes on the results in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin to determine who will take the majority.
Republicans are still favored to retake the House, but it will likely be by a slim margin.
In Alaska, with three candidates on the ballot, two Republicans – Kelly Tshibaka and Sen. Lisa Murkowski – were dueling for the most votes.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared in a speech that Republicans would take the House, but networks had yet to call control of the chamber early Wednesday.