By Corey Kendig
Republicans need to unhitch from the Trump-train before they inevitably fall with him.
Midterm disappointment for Republicans
Pride more often than not leads to an unforeseen humbling, and politics is no exception. Republicans foresaw a big win this November and were left disappointed on Election Day. Democrats pulled ahead triumphantly, defying poll numbers in ways Americans have not seen since the 2016 presidential election. Ironically, it is the same man who won the 2016 presidential election who cost Republicans the 2022 midterms. Donald Trump’s persistence in trying to morph the Republican party into his own image is both egotistical and counterproductive.
Donald Trump has been successful in creating a cult of personality within the Republican party, and his influence cannot be denied. One does not need to look any further than the 2022 primaries to see that Trump-endorsed candidates won almost every primary. As a Pennsylvanian, I was shocked when Dr. Mehmet Oz came from third place in primary polls to be the Republican nominee for Senate. There were similar situations in other swing states like Georgia and Ohio, where Republicans nominated Herschel Walker and J.D. Vance to run. These victories confirmed Trump’s iron clutch on the GOP as he continues to boast correctly about his influence on Republicans. That influence however, does not extend to the rest of the country. While Vance won, Oz lost by a fair margin, and the verdict is still out on the results of Walker’s election as of the writing of this article. Trump candidates struggled on election night while Republicans who were not backed by Trump, i.e., Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis, and Brian Kemp, won handily.
Failure for MAGA candidates
Will Republicans learn their lesson, or will they continue to vote for Trump-endorsed candidates in primaries? Donald Trump is a political liability for Republicans and turns off swing voters. In multiple states, including Georgia and New Hampshire, conservative Republican governors who refused to bow the knee to Trump outperformed candidates who ran on a combination of Trump-like personality and 2020 election claims. The lesson is clear: Republicans should refuse to embrace MAGA candidates, including Trump himself, in 2024.
States like Florida elected two non-MAGA Republicans by margins of over fifteen percent. For a potential swing state, Florida’s gubernatorial and Senate race was a landslide victory for conservatives. In Georgia, Brian Kemp won his election by seven percent while Trump-endorsed candidate Herschel Walker is headed to a runoff election after being down by a percentage point. Five percent of Georgia voters cast their ballots for Kemp but not for Walker. In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson won his Senate bid by a razor thin margin, while Tim Evers lost by double the amount Johnson’s opponent did.
Trump unites most losing Republican campaigns this cycle. He is a toxic figure in American politics who can no longer win elections. My advice to every Republican who wants to see a red wave in 2024 is to pick the most electable candidate. I once believed that Donald Trump was that candidate, but he has only failed Republicans time and time again. The future is bright for Republicans if they instead turn toward rising stars like Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, and Tim Scott. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” rings true in this situation, as Trump is as big as politicians come. Republicans need to unhitch from the Trump train before they inevitably fall with him.
Corey Kendig is a junior history and political science major from Marietta, Pennsylvania. Corey is engaged in political organizations on campus, such as being the president of GCC’s Young America’s Foundation, an exec member on the GCC’s American Enterprises Institute chapter, and the school’s law journal.
Corey writes as a freelance journalist for several publications. He has written for notable organizations such as The Federalist, College Fix, and James G. Martin Institute. This summer, Corey interned at the United States House of Representatives. He is an outreach fellow with the Institute for Faith & Freedom.