Republicans in battleground states and elsewhere — who have suffered a third straight election defeat — are placing the blame in a direction they were once reluctant to point: former President Donald Trump.
“Personality comes and goes,” said Dave Ball, chairman of the Washington County, Pennsylvania Republican Party, who has long supported and defended Trump. “Sometimes you’re outdated. You have new people, new faces, and sometimes you have to keep up with the times.”
In interviews, more than two dozen state Republican leaders, elected officials and agents said Trump’s massive involvement in the midterm races up and down the vote has doomed them in swing states, leaving Democrats’ blue walls intact in Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest, and costing them a winable Nevada Senate seats. Exit polls show Trump holding a high place in the minds of voters who have rejected his handpicked candidates in many key races.
Those Republicans, including those who have supported him in the past and others who tolerated him but rarely speak out publicly, say they increasingly think Trump and Trumpism are failing, and they don’t want him back in 2024 Run for president. Trump is preparing to do so and is expected to make an announcement Tuesday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Trump isn’t the only Republican under scrutiny for the party’s midterm defeat. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. The chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee, Rick Scott of Florida, has also been criticized for the candidates they support and the money they spend. But Trump had assured his followers that they would be “tired of winning” if they stuck with him, but he saw mounting losses at the state and local levels.
Others argue that Trump himself may no longer be the winner.
“If Trump vs. DeSantis in Wisconsin, DeSantis would win,” former Wisconsin Republican chairman Brandon Schultz said of the Florida governor. Republican Ron DeSantis won re-election in a landslide and angered Trump by positioning himself as his replacement for 2024.
Wisconsin voters last week gave their Democratic Gov. Tony Evers another term, while denying a GOP majority in the convention — a major deal for Republicans eager to override the veto blow. In Pennsylvania, in addition to losing gubernatorial and Senate races, the GOP is on the verge of losing the state legislature for the first time in more than a decade. The wreckage was particularly severe in Michigan, where voters were re-elected as Democratic governor. Gretchen Whitmer rejected a string of Trump-backed election deniers and gave Democrats control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in nearly 40 years. After backing Trump in 2016, all three states have turned to Joe Biden in 2020.
In Illinois, Republicans had threatened to take two state Supreme Court seats and flip the state Senate and House of Representatives. Instead, with the Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate at the top, it turned a darker blue. Jim Durkin, the longtime Republican leader of the state House of Representatives who decided to step down after last week’s worse-than-expected results, said “Trump stopped this wave” and “fully deserves a national responsible for the loss”.
“Trump would say we’re a bunch of RINOs,” Durkin said, referring to the derogatory acronym for “Republicans in Name.” “No, we’re Republicans who want to win.”
Not everyone is pointing the finger at Trump. JD Vance, a Trump-backed Republican who won a Senate race in Ohio, wrote in a recent opinion piece that it would be wrong to blame Trump for the midterm performance. Instead, he argues, the real problem is the Republicans’ budget deficit and their inability to vote.
“The point is not that Trump is perfect,” Vance wrote in The American Conservative Party, adding: “But any effort to blame Trump rather than money and turnout is not just Wrong. It distracts us from the real issues we as a party need to address for a long time.”
A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
Even some of Trump’s allies paint a dark future with Trump as their standard-bearer. Mike Detmer, a Trump-backed Michigan Senate candidate, said after his primary loss that he was pessimistic about Republicans winning in the state after three unsuccessful election cycles.
“I don’t think you’re going to see Michigan go red for a very, very long time,” said Detmer, who predicted Republicans would pull out of the state. “In fact, I think Michigan is going to be a politically blue state for the foreseeable future.” He added, to make the point better: “I don’t think Michigan is going to be a blue state for Trump in 2024. General effectiveness.”
Michigan Republican Chief of Staff Paul Cordes expressed similar concerns in a statement last week. Post-election memorandumWhitmer, thanks in part to Trump’s public humiliation of her, gained national prominence, making her a prime Republican target. Even without the Governor’s House, Republicans wield considerable power while controlling the legislature. But last week, voters excluded them from power in all three branches of government.
“Over the course of this cycle, the Michigan Republican Party has operated on the political reality that President Trump is popular among our grassroots and a motivator for his supporters, but statewide , especially with independents and women in the midterm elections,” Cordes wrote, referring to former conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, who put his double-digit numbers on the table. lost to Whitmer, as well as right-wing candidates for attorney general and secretary of state.
“As a political party, we find ourselves constantly engaged in a power struggle between Trump and the anti-Trump wing of the party, mainly at the donor level,” Cordes added. “This power struggle ended with too many people on the sidelines and hurt Republicans in key games.”
Another veteran of the Michigan Republican campaign is concerned that state officials, including co-chairman Mayshawn Maddock, are not taking the damage seriously enough.
“Since Trump was elected, we’ve lost the state Supreme Court, we’ve lost the entire executive branch and the entire legislative branch,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about internal political dynamics. “Meshaun Maddock is on twitter Touted winning the school board election last night. Like, man, none of this matters. “
Maddock, a Trump ally who did not respond to a request for comment, is the common yardstick for assessing Republican influence in Michigan.
“It feels like the GOP is here, with Meshaun Maddock taking over as the party’s co-chair, full-scale Trump and full-scale culture wars, and they’re starting to lose where I represent,” the state said. Senator said. Democrat Mallory McMorrow toppled the Republican seat in 2018.
In Pennsylvania, Republican leaders had hoped to at least keep the seat vacated by the senator’s retirement. Pat Toomey. Trump threw himself into the primary, backing far-right state senators. Governor Doug Mastriano and Senate physician Mehmet Oz. He rallied two days before the election in Westmoreland County, a key red fort outside Pittsburgh. But Mastriano was overwhelmed by the state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, while Oz lost a bout with a Democratic lieutenant. Governor John Fettman. Both are lower than Trump’s 2020 figures in Westmoreland County.
“Regarding the governor’s office, it’s impossible for a candidate to lose by double digits in a red year,” said David La Torre, a Pennsylvania Republican adviser. “It really speaks to how poor our candidates are, And the level of Trump’s interference in our primary process.”
Morgan Boyd, a Republican member of the Lawrence County Commission in western Pennsylvania, called the election “the beginning of the end of the Trump era.”
“You see Trump’s influence on the Republican Party diminishing,” said Boyd, who backed Shapiro in the gubernatorial race and Oz in the Senate race. “It’s time for him to pass the torch to more mainstream, more traditional Republican candidates.”
Concerns about Trump are not limited to Pennsylvania and the industrial Midwest, but extend to other battlegrounds, including Nevada, one of the first states on the main calendar for 2024. Trump narrowly lost the state in 2016 and 2020. Although Democratic senators. Last week, Catherine Cortez Masto was re-elected, with Republican Joe Lombardo replacing the Democratic governor. Steve Sisolak – one of the few bright spots in the Republican Party.
Former Nevada Republican Party Chair Amy Tarkanian supported Trump in 2016 and 2020. However, she called on the former president to clear the way for a new wave of leaders.
“People are ready for a politician who implements policies but with a very different tone and demeanor,” said Tarkanian, who warned that Trump’s 2024 announcement this week would distract from the next months of attention in the Georgia Senate runoff. Incumbent Rafael Warnock and Republican rival Herschel Warnock must face it again after both fell below the mandated 50 percent threshold in last week’s general election.
“If Herschel Walker doesn’t give it his all and the conversation turns to Donald Trump, we’re screwed,” Takanian said.