Some Republicans are already pointing the finger at former President Donald Trump for the party’s worse-than-expected showing in Tuesday’s midterm elections, as the former president’s preferred candidates have had a mixed showing so far just a few days before Trump is likely set to announce his 2024 candidacy.
Trump is particularly angry about Republican Mehmet Oz’s loss to Democrat John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race, multiple outlets reported, citing sources close to the former president who said Trump is pointing the finger at his wife and Hannity for encouraging him to back Oz.
Out of 39 competitive races in which Trump has endorsed candidates, his preferred politicians have so far won 12 races and lost 11, with 16 still undecided as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
Trump-backed candidates notched wins in such contests as the Ohio Senate race, in which Republican J.D. Vance beat Rep. Tim Ryan (D), and the Utah Senate race, in which Sen. Mike Lee (R) kept his seat against independent challenger Evan McMullin.
Trump allies in closely watched gubernatorial races in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—battleground states that Trump narrowly lost in 2020—all lost their elections to Democratic candidates.
Major races that are still outstanding include Senate and gubernatorial races in Arizona and Nevada and the Georgia Senate race between Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), which will head to a runoff election.
Trump acknowledged Tuesday’s results were “somewhat disappointing” in “certain ways” in a post on his Truth Social platform Wednesday afternoon, while at the same time claiming the election was “a very big victory” for him.
The former president was reportedly muted in person at a Mar-A-Lago event Tuesday night, with the New York Times reporting he was “not particularly interested” in making a speech and the Guardian reporting Trump only said it was an “interesting evening.”
“I think if [the candidates Trump endorsed] win, I should get all the credit, and if they lose, I should not be blamed at all,” Trump said on NewsNation ahead of the election.
A number of conservative commentators have already started blaming Trump for the party’s losses. National Review writer Michael Brendan Dougherty said on Twitter, “All the chatter on my conservative and GOP channels — is rage at Trump like I’ve never seen.” Trump’s former deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews told CNN Wednesday morning that election night “was the biggest indicator that Donald Trump should not be the Republican nominee in 2024,” adding that Trump “cost Republicans winnable seats by boosting poor quality candidates.”
What To Watch For
Trump has said he plans to make a “very big announcement” on November 15, which is widely expected to be him launching his 2024 presidential campaign—timing that had been expected to build off the momentum of Republicans’ midterm wins. It remains to be seen how that announcement will be impacted by his candidates’ mixed showing on Tuesday, though sources close to Trump told CNN the announcement is likely to go forward because “it’s too humiliating to delay.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), widely considered Trump’s primary competition for the 2024 presidential nomination, won his gubernatorial race Tuesday by a nearly 20-point margin.
People close to the former president are urging him to delay his expected announcement for a 2024 presidential run next week, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, sources told ABC News the former president’s advisors fear DeSantis’ decisive re-election victory indicates there is no path for Trump to beat his former protégé in a 2024 presidential primary.
Trump invested heavily in the midterm elections ahead of his anticipated 2024 run. The president held a blitz of rallies for candidates he supported in the run-up to Election Day, and a super PAC linked to the ex-president poured millions into contentious Senate races with Trump-backed candidates. Polling has shown Republicans largely still support the former president, with a September Morning Consult/Politico poll finding 62% of Republican respondents believe Trump should “definitely” or “probably” run again in 2024, though the broader electorate’s view of him has been more mixed, with only 40% of respondents in an October Emerson College poll saying they’d back Trump over President Joe Biden.