In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. He hurt the GOP in 2022 and now he is running for 2024.
The guy who spawned an insurrection in January 2021 is back. On Tuesday night, Donald Trump launched his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. In front of Mar-a-Lago’s fawning faithful, he attacked Joe Biden and lamented the state of the US in his own absence. “Embarrassed”, “humiliated” and “glory” emerged as the evening’s buzzwords.
The speech sounded like a rehash of his inaugural address. The US has been warned. Unless “45” goes to prison sometime soon, expect the coming months to be a constant pity-party, fueled by a bottomless pit of grievances. In his own words, he is “persecuted” and a “victim”. His son Eric is the unfair recipient of a passel of subpoenas.
Whether this witches’ brew is enough to get the one-term president to the finish line ahead of prospective rivals and the West Wing’s current occupant is debatable. Already, Ivanka Trump has announced that she will not be part of her father’s campaign: “This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children.”
Sarah Matthews, the former Trump aide who emerged as a hero at the House select committee’s hearing, took a swipe of her own. “This is one of the most low-energy, uninspiring speeches I’ve ever heard from Trump,” she tweeted. “Even the crowd seems bored. Not exactly what you want when announcing a presidential run.”
Heading into this midterm election cycle, most forecasters expected House Republicans to gain 20 or 30 seats, giving them a comfortable majority. Instead, they find themselves scrapping for every last seat in hopes of getting a bare majority of 218, with a cushion of a few seats beyond that if they are lucky. This disappointing performance can be attributed — at least in part — to Donald Trump’s influence on candidate selection. But just how much?
We can put a number on it by seeing how Trump-supported candidates did relative to those Republicans he did not endorse. If we look at all 401 contests in which a single Democrat faced a single Republican, there is not much difference. Relative to baseline expectations derived from their districts’ recent voting patterns (as calculated by the Cook Partisan Voting Index), 144 Trump-endorsed candidates exceeded their baselines by an average of 1.52 points. In 257 races where Trump did not endorse a general-election candidate, Republicans exceeded their baseline by 1.46 points.
But that similarity is driven mainly by Trump’s endorsements of many Republicans cruising to easy reelection in uncompetitive districts. If we focus exclusively on districts where the margin of victory was less than 15 points, such that the seat was conceivably in the balance, the picture that emerges is quite different.
In these 114 districts, candidates bearing Trump endorsements underperformed their baseline by a whopping five points, while Republicans who were without Trump’s blessing overperformed their baseline by 2.2 points — a remarkable difference of more than seven points.