Aiden Konold ’26
Since being elected to the presidency in 2016 and even after losing the Presidential Election in 2020, former President Donald J. Trump has been responsible for the poor performance of the GOP in Midterm Elections. When Trump entered office in early January of 2017, he was given the rarity of a unified government, as the GOP held 52 seats in the Senate and 241 seats in the House. In the 2018 Midterms, while Republicans did pick up one additional seat in the Senate, Democrats were able to flip the House, picking up 41 seats. This trend has continued through the 2020 and 2022 Midterms. After making false allegations that the system was “rigged” and that the Presidential Election was stolen from him in 2020, Trump went on to tell Georgian voters that they need not send in mail-in ballots, convincing many Georgians not to vote. Such distrust in the electoral process made Georgia Republicans wary of voting, as they were unsure as to whether their votes would be counted. Trump put himself above the good of the Republican Party, preaching the baseless claim of a “rigged” system instead of doing all he could to ensure Republican control over the U.S. Senate. When there is an opportunity for Trump to elevate himself, he takes advantage at all costs, though his “woe is me” attitude in reaction to losing a presidential election as a billionaire is starting to wear off on the American people.
Trump’s responsibility for the failures of the GOP to find success in midterms can be traced to his confrontation of Republican leaders that he feels do not go far enough in terms of either supporting him or Far Right policies that are out of touch with the majority of Americans. Such sentiment equates Trump’s stamp of approval on Republican political candidates as essentially handing them the GOP Primary victory. Unfortunately, winning the GOP Primary far from equates to victory in national elections, as recent midterms have demonstrated.
More moderate members of the Republican Party have been referred to as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) by Trump, significantly decreasing their chances of winning reelection or of making it through the Republican Primaries. Many of the same Republicans Trump chides as “RINOs” refer to themselves as “Reagan” Republicans and are in fact principled Conservatives who happen to refrain from calling everyone they disagree with a different nickname, exhibiting basic human decency and holding respect for political adversaries.
Trump’s rhetoric is leading Republicans to vote for more radical Far Right candidates that struggle to win national elections, as voters are fed the lie that more moderate, decent Republican candidates do not have the backbone to stand up for extremist policies. Larry Hogan, for example, the very popular Republican governor of Maryland, a traditionally blue state, was referred to as a “Shutdown RINO” by Trump ahead of the 2022 Maryland Gubernatorial Republican Primary. Hogan, an overwhelmingly popular figure within the state of Maryland and nationally, was elected to his first term in 2014, before the Trump phenomena swept over the GOP. For many Republicans, myself included, Hogan would make a perfect presidential candidate and have a high chance of electability as he won over a blue state in Maryland in being elected governor. In the modern GOP, though, in which Trump reigns supreme it seems rather unlikely that Hogan would in fact survive a Republican Presidential Primary. When Hogan made his endorsement for the recent Maryland Gubernatorial race after he was forbidden from running again due to hitting his two-term limit, Trump referred to Hogan’s endorsed candidate, Kelly Schulz, as a “RINO,” urging Marylanders to instead vote for Dan Cox, who organized busses to transport individuals to the “Stop the Steal” rally in 2020, believing the election was “stolen” from Trump. After becoming the GOP Gubernatorial nominee in Maryland, Cox lost the General Gubernatorial Election to Democratic nominee Wes Moore, only receiving 32% of the vote to Moore’s over 62%.
The continued reliance among Republican political candidates to seek Trump’s approval has diluted them from focusing on winning national elections, as evidenced by the recent Maryland Gubernatorial race. A Trump endorsement in the modern GOP equates to primary victories, so Republican political candidates strive to be the most radical to gain Trump’s stamp of approval. Nationally, though, especially after his failure to partake in a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 Presidential Election, Trump is a very unpopular and polarizing figure. Though the Democrats have certainly done a poor job addressing the issues that matter most to Americans including rebuilding an economy in the midst of recession, American voters are more fearful of what electing fringe, Trump-supported candidates to office means for the future of our nation.
This is evident in the current Midterms, as although Republicans gained control of the House, they lost the Senate. Trump-endorsed candidates made it through their primary elections rather handedly, though failed to have much success on the national scale. Those who in fact denied the certification of the 2020 Presidential Election, for example, only won 14 races this year in 94 races for statewide offices that have oversight over election procedures. The American people are fed up with Trump’s continued lies about the 2020 Presidential Election, and have sought to vote in candidates who display human decency and transparency rather than partisan vitriol.
2022 Republican Senate nominees such as Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker put Republicans at a severe disadvantage in states that should have been very winnable for the GOP. While Walker could still win the Georgia Senate race, the margin of victory likely would be much higher with a candidate free of such a scandalous past. Though, because Walker was granted Trump’s stamp of approval, he eased through the Republican Primary, winning just over 68% of the vote. On the national scale, though, such a scandalous past and the approval of Trump very much diminished Walker’s chances of winning the Senate race in a very winnable state for Republicans. As Ashwin Prabaharan ’26 rightly predicted in the October 21st issue, the Republican Party needs to cut ties with Trump and the remaining influence he has on the party, and support traditionally Conservative political candidates if they have any chance at winning national elections moving forward.