Trump-backed candidates underperform in midterms

Politics

(NewsNation) — Candidates in toss-up races backed by former President Donald Trump performed below expectations or are neck-and-neck in battleground states as midterm results continue to roll in Thursday morning.

Several battleground races were too close to call Thursday morning, including races in both Arizona and Nevada that will prove critical for control of the Senate. According to The Hill, political analysts had predicted Republicans would do well in key races based on election history and GOP voter enthusiasm. So far, midterm results were below expectations for the GOP, who largely expected a “red wave.”

According to Ballotpedia, Trump backed more than 250 2022 candidates with a 78% general election success rate. It is worth noting his previous years’ overall success rates were lower, but Trump endorsed more candidates in 2022 than he did in previous years.

Trump-aligned candidates suffered big defeats in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman beat out TV personality Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in a tight, widely watched race for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro battled it out against hardline Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano for the top job in the state and won.

Trump-backed Senate candidates did win in some competitive races including Ohio. Republican J.D. Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan, earning more than 53% of the vote, according to NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ. Rep. Ted Budd won his Senate race in North Carolina and Republican incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson won reelection for a Wisconsin seat.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer beat out Republican challenger Tudor Dixon with more than 54% of the vote. 

Many of the candidates favored by the former president were still struggling to close the deal and claim a victory. Both Arizona gubernatorial candidate and 2020 election denier Kari Lake and Trump-backed Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters are still caught in tight races.

Incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly and Masters are mired in a race that has yet to be called because of an influx of mail-in ballots still being tabulated in Maricopa County.

With so many races still to call, things could still swing more in Trump’s favor. But Trump spoke exclusively to NewsNation Tuesday, saying that even if a candidate does well, he doesn’t think his endorsements will be given due credit.

“Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit,” Trump said to NewsNation’s Markie Martin. “If they lose, I should not be blamed at all, but it’ll probably be just the opposite.

“When they win, I think they’re going to do very well, I’ll probably be given very little credit, even though in many cases, I tell people to run, they ran and they turned out to be very good candidates. They’ve turned out to be very good candidates,” Trump said.

“But usually what would happen is, when they do well, I won’t be given any credit. And if they do badly, they will blame everything on me. So I’m prepared for anything, but we’ll defend ourselves.”

The former president also said in the interview his endorsements won Ron DeSantis the Florida governor’s seat, but DeSantis, now seen as Trump’s primary rival for the GOP presidential nomination, could have been more gracious.

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