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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

RADANDT: Donald Trump and the Republican divide

Photo from Flickr.

This past week, in the previously Republican stronghold state of Georgia, the Republican Party suffered its third Senatorial election loss in two years. This came immediately after the disappointing, although not surprising, underperformance of the GOP, “Grand Old Party,” in the 2022 midterm elections. Several factors led to this massive failure to pick up substantial majorities, but the single most damaging factor for the GOP was former President Donald Trump. 

President Trump’s hand-picked candidates, from Pennsylvania to Arizona, wildly underperformed in what could have been a great election cycle for the Republicans. Across the United States, the more linked a candidate was to the 2020 election denial and Donald Trump, the worse that candidate tended to do. This was especially true for new candidates who lacked any incumbency advantage. 

The most obvious example of this was in the Arizona gubernatorial race, as the election-denying, Trump-endorsed candidate, Kari Lake, fell to her Democrat opponent Katie Hobbs. This was despite the fact that Hobbs refused to participate in any debates against Lake and all available polling data prior to the election displayed a likely Republican victory.

If Republicans want to be successful in the future, they must move away from Donald Trump and choose quality, viable candidates that are focused on the issues of the American people. 

However, Republicans have a major problem. A substantial portion of the American citizenry are Trump loyalists. This Trump flank of the Republican Party stands around like seagulls waiting for a Trump endorsement to be tossed like bread at a particular candidate. 

Whoever Trump endorses immediately finds themself surrounded by a wave of support from these pro-Trump Republicans.

This creates a Republican primary that is not focused on real issues but rather becomes a contest of Republican candidates sycophantically praising a former President in hopes of an endorsement. This tactic tended to work in the Republican primaries but not in the general elections. 

Praising Trump and denying election results boosted these flawed candidates just enough to be nominated, but then immediately were unpopular with the rest of the citizenry, including many Conservatives. 

This is not to say that one shouldn’t vote for their preferred candidate in the primaries, but picking a candidate based on their loyalty to Trump is absurd. What these individuals do not seem to realize is not all Republicans, and certainly, not all right-leaning independents, are Trump fanatics. Thus, an election-denying, Trump-loving candidate will not be successful in swing and lean-blue districts and states. 

This trend was observed as winnable Senatorial, Congressional and Gubernatorial races fell to the Democrats after a pro-Trump Republican was nominated.

A prime example of this phenomenon was in Michigan’s third district. Donald Trump endorsed the election-denying candidate, John Gibbs, over moderate Conservative and incumbent Peter Meijer. Gibbs coasted on the Trump endorsement and received enough primary votes to knock out Meijer. This resulted in Michigan’s third district, which had been held by a Republican since 1992, being firmly handed over to Democrat Hillary Scholten. It is important to note Scholten had previously been defeated by Meijer in 2020. 

If Republicans have any desire to continue to win elections, they must choose candidates that are grounded in traditional conservative values, who separate themselves from Trump and the 2020 election result lies.

This stark rise in poor candidate quality stems from the Trump loyalist’s desire to root out “RINOs,” or Republicans In Name Only, from the Republican Party. However, the term RINO has been expanded by these individuals from a more Liberal Republican to simply mean anyone who does not fully belong to Trump’s allegiance.

As previously discussed in “Poaching RINOs Harms Elephants,” these individuals view patriotism as synonymous with Trump loyalty and somehow believe excommunicating moderate Conservative politicians and portions of the voter base from the Republican Party will make it grow stronger.

Obviously, this is a false belief as you cannot possibly find success or continue to win elections in the future by alienating more people. Moving forward, the Republican Party must find commonality and stop the incessant focus on Donald Trump, as that clearly is a failed strategy based on previous and current election results.

Republicans absolutely blew an opportunity to take a commanding majority in both legislative chambers. This failure can only be attributed to the consequences of their own actions. Republicans chose poor-quality candidates and received poor results. If the Republicans want to stop the left-wing agenda in the future, they are going to have to start getting serious about whom they nominate and whom they send to Washington. 

This story was written by Jack Radandt. He can be reached at [email protected]

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