Donald Trump and the Midterms

Former President Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a “Save America” ​​event in Anchorage July 9.


Patrick T. fallon/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s whisperers say he may soon announce his plans to run for president in 2024, and Democrats are keeping their fingers crossed for him. Since his surprise victory in 2016, Mr. Trump has been the primary cause of the Democrats’ electoral success.

All the usual signs are that this should be an excellent election year for Republicans, perhaps a historic one. Inflation is at 8.6%, gas is $4.50 a gallon, mothers can’t get baby food, crime is rising, 401(k) values ​​are falling and rogue states are on the rise around the world.

The polls show that around 75% of the public think the country is going in the wrong direction. President Biden’s approval rating is below 38% in the Real Clear Politics composite index and 33% in the most recent Siena/New York Times poll. That’s the depth of the Mariana Trench for presidents, and it usually signals medium-term defeat for the party in power.

This all means that the GOP should regain control of the House and Senate if Mr. Biden’s and Congressional Democrats’ record is the dominant issue in November. To put it more bluntly, with less than four months to go before Election Day, it would take surprise events or political misconduct for the GOP to lose.


Enter Mr. Trump announcing his presidential candidacy possibly before the midterms we don’t recall a major candidate having done so. The former president’s advisers say he may be doing so soon because he doesn’t like the attention other potential candidates are getting.

That’s especially true of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who seems poised to win his re-election campaign by what Mr. Trump might say, “by a large margin.” Mr. Trump wants to preempt the field, freeze GOP donors and show his dominance over the GOP in 2022 looking into 2024.

That would excite Democrats, who are desperate to steer the issue away from inflation and the Biden record. They scheduled their Jan. 6 committee hearings for mid-2022 to remind everyone of Mr. Trump’s behavior and wrap him around the GOP candidates.

That doesn’t matter in safe GOP districts, but it might work in the swing-house districts and states where Democrats won their majority in 2018, when suburban voters wanted control over Mr. Trump’s chaotic governance. If the main issue in November is the GOP’s allegiance to Mr Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen, Democrats could stand a chance of holding Congress. Republicans would have to play defense instead of focusing on the Biden-Nancy Pelosi-Chuck Schumer record.

This cost the GOP its two Georgia Senate seats in January 2021, when Mr. Trump dampened the GOP’s turnout by telling voters that the presidential race had been stolen. The two incumbent GOP senators should have campaigned to review Mr. Biden and the left. Mr Trump risks repeating the Georgia mistake by focusing almost exclusively on the last election and not this one.

Trump’s interference in the primary has already hurt the GOP’s chances of retaking the Senate. His vendetta against Doug Ducey kept the Arizona governor from running for the Senate, even though Mr. Ducey would have been the strongest candidate against Senator Mark Kelly.

Trump’s preferred candidates in key states are struggling or closing in the polls despite favorable GOP trends. Mehmet Oz is trailing leftist Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Herschel Walker is a rookie candidate who shows his inexperience in Georgia. and Rep. Ted Budd is just ahead in North Carolina. As in 2010, the Democrats were able to assert themselves against a number of weak GOP candidates.

It is possible that voter dissatisfaction with the Democrats is so strong that it overwhelms any concern for Mr. Trump, who will eventually not stand for election. Glenn Youngkin was able to win the Virginia Statehouse in part because Mr. Trump largely stayed out of the running.

But that was a rare exception, and Mr. Trump usually can’t help himself. He always wants to be the center of attention, and the media is only too happy to oblige. Even more so now that his concern is breaking the stigma of his 2020 defeat by sticking to his stolen voting line. If Republicans fall short of the gains they expect in Congress, he will blame them. If they do well, he will take credit.


Which brings us back to this week’s Siena/New York Times poll. For all his bad news for Mr. Biden, he still beats Mr. Trump by 44 to 41 percent in a theoretical rematch for president in 2024. What does it say that Joe Biden, the most unpopular president in modern times, is still beating Donald Trump?

Journal Editor’s Report: California governor launches invasion of Florida. Images: AP/Orlando Sentinel/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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