At least fourteen of Donald Trump’s handpicked candidates are projected to have lost their election bids, according to an ABC News count — results that have some Trump aides concerned as the former president prepares for a “big announcement” regarding his potential 2024 presidential run.
Sources close to Trump described him as “fuming” at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday night as GOP candidates he had backed started to lose or underperform.
Said one GOP operative close to Trump: “This was the end of the Trump era and the dawn of the DeSantis era. Like every other Trump catastrophe, he did this to himself with stupid and reckless decisions.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said former President Donald Trump bears significant blame for the “debacle” Tuesday that left the GOP struggling to capitalize on Democratic weakness in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and urged his party to move away from Trump’s influence, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Said Toomey: “Last night across the country was a terrible night for Donald Trump, and an excellent night for Governor DeSantis. The more MAGA a candidate was, the more they tended to underperform even in their own states.”
Rolling Stone: “As he prepares to announce his own 2024 run, Trump has been soliciting dirt on DeSantis and other potential primary rivals, including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Trump has also spread gossip about DeSantis, including unverified allegations about his private life. Rolling Stone is declining to repeat what Trump has said.”
“This type of gossip accumulation and dissemination is a common habit of Trump’s, one that he took to the White House, even when dealing with foreign leaders and highly sensitive U.S. intelligence. He’s using it against DeSantis while also stepping up his public attacks.”
“Donald Trump faced unusual public attacks from across the Republican Party on Wednesday after a string of midterm losses by candidates he had handpicked and supported, a display of weakness as he prepared to announce a third presidential campaign as soon as next week,” the New York Times reports.
“As the sheer number of missed Republican opportunities sank in, the rush to openly blame Mr. Trump was as immediate as it was surprising.”
“Conservative allies criticized Mr. Trump on social media and cable news, questioning whether he should continue as the party’s leader and pointing to his toxic political brand as the common thread woven through three consecutive lackluster election cycles.”
John Podhoretz: “After 3 straight national tallies in which either he or his party or both were hammered by the national electorate, it’s time for even his stans to accept the truth: Toxic Trump is the political equivalent of a can of Raid.”
“It was supposed to be a red wave that former President Donald Trump could triumphantly ride to the Republican nomination as he prepares to launch another White House run,” the AP reports.
“Instead, Tuesday night’s disappointing results for the GOP are raising new questions about Trump’s appeal… Indeed, some allies were calling on Trump to delay his planned announcement next week, saying the party’s full focus needs to be on Georgia, where Trump-backed football great Herschel Walker’s effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is headed to a runoff that could determine control of the Senate once again.”
Washington Post: “One person familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations, said Trump was polling advisers for their opinions but had not made up his mind.”
Susan Glasser: “From his exile at Mar-a-Lago, the sore loser of an ex-President had envisioned the election as both a revenge play and a prelude to his triumphal return to the campaign trail next week as an official 2024 candidate…”
“That bloodbath was not to be, and the surprise remains that the Trumps—and the Party in their thrall—ever thought it could have been otherwise. Americans, historically speaking, do not like losers, and Trump has amassed what, in a different political era, could only be considered a big loser of a record: twice defeated in the national popular vote, Trump became the first incumbent President since Herbert Hoover to see his party lose the White House, Senate, and House in just four years.”
“He remains the subject of multiple criminal investigations by the Justice Department. A House select committee will soon make public a scathing report, likely putting the blame on him personally for the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. Many of the pre-election pundits who leaned hard into predictions of Republican victory focussed too much on President Biden’s poor approval ratings—and not enough on Trump’s even higher unfavorable ratings.”
Longtime Trump adviser Jason Miller went on the record with the Washington Post: “Everything is about Herschel. I’ll be advising him to put it off until after the runoff. I’m not alone when I say President Trump’s best moves are to put all his efforts to get Herschel Walker elected.”
Miller to the Associated Press: “I’ll be advising him that he move his announcement until after the Georgia runoff. Georgia needs to be the focus of every Republican in the country right now.”
Republican strategist David Urban, a former Trump adviser, told the Associated Press that the Trump brand is wounded “no matter what the former president says.”
Said Urban: “Of course, he’s going to claim victory, right? The president touts an accomplishment record that includes victories in uncontested races. He can say whatever he wants. But how do people feel in America? I think people feel not great about the Trump brand right now. It’s bad.”
Urban to the New York Times: “Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff.”
GOP strategist Scott Jennings, a longtime adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), called on Republicans interested in running for president in 2024 to move urgently, pointing to Donald Trump’s rapid political recovery after his supporters rioted in the Capitol, the New York Times reports.
Said Jennings: “The void has to be filled. After Jan. 6, the G.O.P. hesitated and he quickly recovered. DeSantis cannot hesitate.”
“House Republicans are coming to grips with the harsh reality of what a single-digit majority could look like — starting with a newly empowered far-right flank that could seriously threaten GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s House speaker ambitions,” Axios reports.
“The Freedom Caucus and others on the GOP conference’s far-right are already plotting how they can leverage this new dynamic to their advantage, with plans to force McCarthy and other leaders to make massive concessions to secure their positions in power.”
CNN: McCarthy moves quickly to secure potential speakership as hard-right group weighs a long-shot challenge.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Wednesday pumped the brakes on boosting Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to a House Speakership, arguing Republicans should not move ahead “so fast” on the proposition, The Hill reports.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with GOP deliberations told CNN around two dozen current and incoming members could vote against a McCarthy leadership.
Politico: “In conversations with lawmakers in the Donald Trump-aligned group, McCarthy tried to find areas of common ground on some of their requests, according to two Republicans familiar with the matter. But one of those Republicans said McCarthy made clear in those conversations that he’s disinclined to empower House members to dislodge the speaker next year — arguing it would allow Democrats to wreak havoc in the chamber.”
“And the Californian’s calls to members are simply a run-of-the-mill move to shore up support, McCarthy’s allies say, dismissing the prospect of any serious concessions to the Freedom Caucus or a dark-horse alternative entering the speakership race.”
A good point from Nate Silver: “One thing about the GOP mini-wave in NY state/NYC metro is that you’re going to have a half-dozen Republican House members who are extremely vulnerable under typical presidential-year turnout conditions and will have a lot of incentive to buck GOP leadership.”
Wall Street Journal: “The Biden administration won’t give Ukraine advanced drones despite pleas from Kyiv and a bipartisan group of members of Congress, a reflection of the limit of the kinds of weaponry Washington is willing to provide for Ukraine’s defense.”
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war, now in its ninth month, the AP reports.
“Former President George W. Bush will hold a public conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky next week with the aim of underscoring the importance of the US continuing to support Ukraine’s war effort against Russia,” CNN reports.
“The event, which will take place in Dallas and be open to the public, comes amid questions about the willingness of the former president’s Republican Party to maintain support for Ukraine.”
“The consumer price index rose less than expected in October, an indication that while inflation is still a threat to the U.S. economy, pressures could be starting to cool,” CNBC reports.
“The consumer price index, a broad-based measure of goods and services costs, increased 0.4% for the month and 7.7% from a year ago.”
“President Biden will hold his first in-person presidential meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday in Bali ahead of the Group of 20 summit next week,” the Washington Post reports.
Washington Post: “Climate change is unleashing ‘far-reaching and worsening’ calamities in every region of the United States, and the economic and human toll will only increase unless humans move faster to slow the planet’s warming, according to a sprawling new federal report released Monday.”
New York Times: World leaders meet on climate amid other crises.
New York Times: “None of the world’s biggest emitters — China, the United States, the European Union and India — have reduced their emissions enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals.”
“Together, the four countries account for more than half of historical emissions of planet-warming gases, which include carbon dioxide and methane. The United States is the largest historical emitter, and China is the largest current emitter. Their policies have an outsize impact on the future of Earth’s climate.”
Susan Glasser: “The biggest immediate problem for Biden and the Democrats, however, is that a win for the Republicans, even if it’s not a wave, is still a win.”
“A one-vote margin in the House would still give subpoena power to Jim Jordan as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It would still mean the difference between Biden being able to advance his legislative agenda with a Democratic Speaker or the impossibility of doing so with a Republican one. A narrow Republican majority in the House might even further empower the crazies in the chamber, making a Speaker Kevin McCarthy beholden to the Trumpian extremists’ every whim if he does not want to be deposed by them—if, that is, McCarthy is even able to win the Speakership.”
Peter Wehner: “The conventional wisdom is that Republicans will finally break with Trump, perhaps rallying around an alternative like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who won a decisive reelection victory. And they might. DeSantis is a skilled culture warrior, aware of what appeals to MAGA world.”
“But bear in mind that since the summer of 2015, Republicans have had countless opportunities to move on from Trump, most conspicuously after the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, part of Trump’s unprecedented effort to overthrow a presidential election. Republicans have always passed. In fact, the party is more MAGA friendly after his defeat in 2020 than it was during his presidency. A bad midterm election is unlikely to break Trump’s grip on the party.”
Tim Alberta: “For Republicans, a central charge against Democrats throughout 2022 has been that Biden and his party are out of touch with ordinary Americans. A distilled version of the argument went like this: Democrats, the party of social and cultural elites, can’t relate to the economic pain being felt by millions of working people. That message penetrated—to a point.”
“According to exit polls, 20 percent of voters said inflation has caused their families ‘severe hardship’ over the past year. Among those respondents, 71 percent supported Republicans, and 28 percent supported Democrats. This is broadly consistent with other findings in the exit polling, as well as public-opinion research we saw throughout the summer and fall, showing disapproval of Biden and his stewardship of the economy. This would seem damning for Democrats—that is, until you consider the numbers in reverse and ask the obvious question: Why did three in 10 people who said they’ve experienced ‘severe hardship’ decide to vote for the party that controls Congress and the White House?
“The simplest explanation is that although many of these voters think Democrats are out of touch, they also think Republicans are out of their minds. And it seems they prefer the former to the latter.”
For months, polls suggested that abortion would take a back seat to concerns about inflation and the economy as the top issue for voters. That proved to be very wrong. In fact, it’s impossible to exaggerate how important the issue was in turning out Democratic voters. Here’s the New York Times on two key swing states:
“Exit polls conducted by the television networks and Edison Research showed that in Pennsylvania abortion overtook the economy as the top issue on voters’ minds, and in Michigan, nearly half of all voters said abortion was their top issue.”
In addition, all five states that had a ballot referendum on abortion rights saw the pro-choice side win — including the deep red states of Kentucky and Montana. But even in the 45 states where abortion wasn’t literally on the ballot, the issue helped drive Democratic turnout.
As Tim Alberta explains: “By every metric available—turnout, exit polling, individual races, and referendum results—abortion was the dominant motivator for Democrats, particularly younger Democrats, who have historically skipped midterm elections. It was also the dominant motivator for moderates and independents to stick with an unpopular president.
The story of this election was that millions of voters who registered dissatisfaction with Biden and his economic policies voted for his party anyway. Why? Because they were more concerned about Republicans’ approach to abortion than Democrats’ approach to inflation.”
That’s a big problem for Republicans because concern over abortion rights hasn’t gone away. And they can expect Democrats to use the issue to drive turnout in 2024 as well.
More from Alberta: “Politics is a copycat business. Now that Democrats have found a winning formula, you can expect to see entire field programs, messaging campaigns, microtargeting exercises, and ballot-initiative drives built around abortion access.”
For decades, the abortion issue helped rally Republicans with much more intensity than it did abortion rights supporters. But overturning Roe v. Wade last summer appears to have flipped the script.
“A Navy engineer who tried to sell military secrets to a foreign country was sentenced Wednesday to more than 19 years in prison, and his wife was sentenced to just shy of 22 years for aiding his plans and then attempting to hide her role,” the Washington Post reports.
Faced with fleeing advertisers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to pay for his $44 billion Twitter purchase by implementing a new “feature” in which any user can pay $8 a month to get a blue check that was previously available only for verified public figures, members of the media, brands, etc.
Charlie Warzel: “Musk’s fans see the billionaire as a visionary, but it’s worth noting that many casual observers—people whose only real understanding of Musk is as the guy who put the fancy electric cars on their streets—have also internalized the heuristic that he is Good at Business and the type of man who spends his waking moments dreaming of how to save humanity from its existential problems.”
“But what the past two weeks demonstrate is that Musk is, at best, a mediocre executive—and undoubtedly a terrible, distracted manager.”
Casey Newton: “One such plan might allow everyone to use Twitter for a limited amount of time each month but require a subscription to continue browsing, the person said.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “There were no significant disruptions at polling places. If there was voter intimidation on Election Day, it was small-scale enough that it barely registered. There was nothing like the widespread, organized operations by extremist groups as many feared. Losing Republican candidates conceded their races as the losing candidates in democracies normally do. I’m sure there are plenty of conspiracy theories out there about why Republicans overall did worse than they expected, but they don’t seem to have made the leap into the mouths of party politicians or partisan media that reaches most voters.”
“The main post-election reaction seems to be a very normal argument within the GOP about what went wrong and which party faction or strategy or former president is to blame. That, and I very rarely say this about Republicans, is what healthy parties do. Of course, it’s still early.”
New York Times: “Researchers who study disinformation said most efforts to stoke doubt about results had failed to spread widely.”
Kathleen Searles and Christopher Mann: “It’s enough to inspire civic pride — but some of these images may not be positive for democracy: Our new research, which is not yet published, shows that people who watch a television news story that depicts polling place lines are less likely to say they will vote in future elections.”
“Coverage of lines is prevalent, according to a content analysis we did of national and local news coverage leading up to the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections. But, we found, seeing images of lines in news stories about voting made people more likely to think that voting is time-consuming and decreased their stated confidence in elections.”
North Korea’s military said Monday its recent barrage of missile tests were practices to “mercilessly” strike key South Korean and U.S. targets such as air bases and operation command systems with a variety of missiles that likely included nuclear-capable weapons, the AP reports.
“The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the appeal of Michigan Republicans who had challenged the state’s new congressional map as drawn by the redistricting commission last year,” the Detroit News reports.
“The Republicans had argued that the congressional map unjustifiably deviated from constitutional requirements for apportionment by failing to have more equal population among the 13 districts, pointing to a roughly 1,200-person difference between the largest and smallest districts by population.”
“New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued her first Supreme Court opinion, a short dissent Monday in support of a death row inmate from Ohio,” the AP reports.
“Jackson wrote that she would have thrown out lower court rulings in the case of inmate Davel Chinn, whose lawyers argued that the state suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said that Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) should be deported as she rallied for Georgia’s Republican Senate nominee, Herschel Walker (R), The Hill reports.
Said Haley: “Legal immigrants are more patriotic than the leftists these days. They worked to come into America and they love America. They want the laws followed in America. So the only person we need to make sure we deport is Warnock.”