ANDREW NEIL: As ever more Republicans realise he’s a serial loser, it’s looking like Trump’s days are numbered
It’s over for Donald Trump. He doesn’t quite realise it yet but even he is beginning to discern the writing on the wall. His hopes of returning in triumph to the White House by winning the 2024 presidential election, vindicating all his nonsense about a ‘stolen’ election in 2020, look increasing forlorn.
Meanwhile, the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack is mulling over criminal prosecutions of him and a number of his closest allies.
And on Tuesday a jury in New York convicted the Trump Organization of criminal tax fraud.
Far from being the vote-winning machine of his own mythology, it’s finally dawning on even the dimmest of Republicans (of which there are too many these days) that Trump is a serial vote-loser.
Donald Trump’s hopes of returning in triumph to the White House by winning the 2024 presidential election, vindicating all his nonsense about a ‘stolen’ election in 2020, look increasing forlorn
Further, definitive evidence of that came this week when, in a crucial runoff in Georgia for a key Senate seat, yet another Trump-endorsed candidate went down to defeat in what should have been a winnable election for the Republicans.
Trump effectively imposed Herschel Walker on the Georgia Republicans in the Senate race. His endorsement of his old pal, a famous former American football star, scared off better, more credible Republican contenders.
Trump claimed Walker would be ‘unstoppable’. Obviously, that turned out not to be true. What was true, thanks to Trump, was that Georgia Republicans went into battle with a rookie candidate who was untried and unvetted. It wasn’t long before his campaign unravelled.
His explanation for climate change was that America was sending ‘good’ air to China but China was sending ‘bad’ air in return. The scientific literature is strangely silent on this interpretation. Standing on a hardline pro-life, anti-abortion platform, it soon emerged that he had encouraged pregnant girlfriends to have abortions — and in at least one case even paid for it.
Trump effectively imposed Herschel Walker on the Georgia Republicans in the Senate race
None of this mattered to Trump. Walker ticked the only box that matters to the ex-president: he agreed with Trump that the 2020 election had been rigged against him. But it all mattered to the good folks of Georgia.
Walker lost by three percentage points. Not a lot, I hear you say. Which is true. But consider this: in every Georgia state-wide contest in last month’s midterm elections, anti-Trump Republicans romped home.
Brian Kemp, whom Trump loathes because he rejected Trump’s ‘stolen election’ claims in 2020, was re-elected governor with an eight-point lead. His secretary of state won by nine points, his attorney general by five points.
All Republicans. All clearly distanced from Trump. Indeed Walker was the only Republican to lose in a Georgia statewide election. It’s a voting pattern not unique to the Peach State.
Much has been made of how the Republicans underperformed in last month’s midterm elections. They failed to take the Senate and only narrowly recaptured the House. They certainly did much worse than I expected. But, contrary to widespread perception, there was a ‘red wave’: it was simply confined to those races in which Republicans ran anti-Trump candidates.
Brian Kemp, whom Trump loathes because he rejected Trump’s ‘stolen election’ claims in 2020, was re-elected governor with an eight-point lead
Kemp’s convincing gubernatorial win in Georgia was not an isolated result. Anti-Trump Republicans running to be re-elected as governor in Texas, Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire all won convincing victories. Most impressive of all was the re-election of Ron DeSantis as governor of booming Florida.
He won by a 20-point landslide in what amounts to Trump’s home state, given that the former president spends most of his time these days at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. You can understand why DeSantis is now The Donald’s public enemy number one.
Republicans eyed winnable races for governor in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. They entered the fray with Trump-endorsed hopefuls. They all lost.
Republicans also had a decent chance of picking up Senate seats in New Hampshire, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada. They needed only one to take control of the Senate. In all four states they ran Trump-endorsed candidates, all of whom publicly espoused the Trump ‘stolen election’ mantra. In all four they lost, often badly in what should have been close-fought races.
Ron DeSantis won by a 20-point landslide in what amounts to Trump’s home state, given that the former president spends most of his time these days at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach
The only exception to this litany of Trump failures was Ohio, where J. D. Vance (of Hillbilly Elegy fame) won a six-point victory in the contest for the Senate.
But only after the Republican party flooded the state with $32 million in campaign funds to save the day, despite Ohio being an increasingly Republican state. The distinctly non-Trump Republican candidate for governor won by 26 points.
‘We’re going to win so much,’ Mr Trump once boasted, ‘that you’re going to get sick and tired of winning.’ But Republicans are now sick and tired of losing. It makes you wonder what the Democrats would do without him.
Since Trump surprisingly won in 2016 against the generally disliked Hillary Clinton (even then she got three million more votes than him), he has chalked up a consistent record of electoral defeat.
The 2018 midterm elections were a shocker for the Republicans, not helped by Trump’s personal approval ratings tanking since 2016. He lost the White House in 2020, then sabotaged Georgia’s two Senate elections in early 2021, thereby ensuring the Republicans lost that chamber too.
He’s the main reason Republicans did much worse than expected in this year’s midterms, with the Senate staying in Democratic hands.
None of this, of course, has stopped Trump from deciding to run again for the presidency though, curiously, he’s done very little in terms of fundraising or campaigning since he announced his candidacy in mid-November. Maybe it’s dawning on him that it will not be the seamless coronation he expected.
Since Trump surprisingly won in 2016 against the generally disliked Hillary Clinton (even then she got three million more votes than him), he has chalked up a consistent record of electoral defeat
But he has gone out of his way to make himself even more persona non grata with mainstream U.S. opinion. He recently hosted a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago bolthole with a despicable white supremacist and anti-Semite, Nick Fuentes, and Ye (the rapper formerly known as Kanye West), also a notorious anti-Semite.
Far from coming to terms with his 2020 defeat, he’s recently ramped up the rhetoric, even claiming that the ‘stolen election’ was so heinous that it should result in the ‘termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the Constitution’.
To call for the suspension of the Constitution, a sacred document in America, is extreme even by Trumpian standards. But it adds to the growing sense among Republicans that he’s now a serious electoral liability.
He’s been dismayed by the diminishing attention he gets in the media these days. As a result, there’s almost nothing he won’t do or say in a desperate bid to stay relevant and in the public eye.
It’s always a mistake to write Trump off entirely. He still commands the support of the Republican core vote, a crucial asset in primary elections. Polls show he retains a comfortable lead over DeSantis, his strongest challenger so far.
If there is anything like the 16 Republican candidates there were in the 2016 primaries then Trump could slip through with 40 per cent of the vote while the other 60 per cent is spread thinly among the rest.
Trump still commands the support of the Republican core vote, a crucial asset in primary elections
But the primary campaign is still a long way away, there is plenty of time for the anti-Trumpers to consolidate around the best opposition to him, and his grip on the Republican base is already diminishing. Nothing he’s doing is likely to reverse that.
He’s also helped by a spineless Republican leadership, which is still too gutless to attack him lest he unleashes the party’s base on them. A host of Republican bigwigs rushed to condemn any idea of suspending the constitution but none of the current party bosses could bring themselves to condemn Trump explicitly. It was a disheartening display of cowardice.
Even so, it does look as if Trump’s days are numbered. Republicans outside his cult core are tiring of his schtick. His status as a loser is becoming more imprinted on Republican minds. A few brave party voices are now attacking him openly. More will follow as he strays into even wilder territory to keep his face on the news channels. There is a growing desire simply to move on.
The wider benefits would be historic. If Trump is not the Republican candidate, the pressure on President Biden not to run again would be irresistible. So Trump’s departure from the scene would herald a much-needed and overdue generational shift in American politics, on the Left and Right, both wings for too long dominated by the Trump-Biden generation.
Far from being the Comeback Kid, Trump would be relegated to Yesterday’s Man. He won’t like that. But it would give him more time to deal with all the lawsuits and investigations currently pressing in on him.
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