The former president may shoulder blame for Republicans’ disappointing night, while potential 2024 foe Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won a blowout reelection victory.
The so-called “red-wave” expected on Election Day never materialized, it was clear early Wednesday, even with several key races still undecided and the balance of power in both chambers uncertain.
And while that’s bad news for Republicans in general, it’s especially bad news for former President Donald Trump.
Trump, still widely considered the GOP’s standard-bearer, will likely shoulder the blame for the party’s middling success. He saw several of his high-profile endorsees struggle or lose, including Mehmet Oz, the former TV personality running for Senate in Pennsylvania who lost to Democrat John Fetterman – a loss that kept open Democrats’ chances of keeping control of the Senate.
Some of Trump’s foes also won reelection, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is currently leading a civil lawsuit against Trump and several of his adult children, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who resisted Trump’s efforts to have election results in the state overturned in 2020.
And Republicans’ anticlimactic night also suggests that the race for the White House 2024 could be cracked wide open.
Trump is expected to announce another bid for the presidency next week, but Tuesday’s results may invite other Republicans to throw their hats in the ring, sensing weakness in Trump’s candidacy.
Perhaps most notably, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – who is considered to be one of Trump’s strongest potential competitors for the Republican nomination – cruised to a bruising reelection victory, walloping Democrat Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points in a state that Trump carried in 2020 by only about 4% and now nominally calls home.
DeSantis also made huge inroads with Hispanic voters in Florida, a demographic Republicans have for years tried to bolster support within, and was the first Republican to win the crucial Miami-Dade County in 20 years.
The cold war between Trump and DeSantis heated up Tuesday, with Trump saying it would be a “mistake” for DeSantis to launch a 2024 bid.
“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign,” Trump said.
Trump on Tuesday also gloated at the losses of several in his own party that he had deemed not loyal to him, including the Republican candidate for Senate in Colorado who was endorsed by DeSantis.
“Joe O’Dea lost BIG! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!” Trump posted on Truth Social.
While DeSantis’ star might be rising, Trump’s may be falling, according to exit polls. In Florida, only 33% of voters said they wanted to see Trump run again, compared to 45% who said they wanted to see DeSantis make a White House bid, according to exit polling by CNN. And nationwide, only 39% of voters had a favorable view of the former president.