After spending the last two years building up Donald Trump as an omnipotent, godlike figure who controls the Republican Party and whose word is the law, the news media woke up on Wednesday morning and discovered they had been wrong.
Of course, the corrections and apologias flowing from the newsrooms of America were numerous and heartfelt. Well, not in this universe anyway.
Perhaps in some alternate reality where the media had a collective conscience and a smidgeon of self-respect, there were acknowledgments of just how wrong the mainstream press was in making Donald Trump into something he wasn’t.
But this is America, on earth, in the year 2022, so no such luck.
Donald Trump’s influence in the Republican Party has not suffered much despite several losses in Republican primaries on Tuesday, especially in Georgia. It seems obvious that Trump allowed his personal feelings about the aftermath of the 2020 election to get in the way of his political judgment in Georgia. And when he pressed harder to get his way, Georgia voters turned their backs on his candidates.
But not on Trump. Georgia was an outlier, a self-inflicted wound for the former president. But if you want to know who’s the most influential figure in the Republican Party, ask almost any candidate who ran in the primary on Tuesday and you’ll realize that they aren’t hoping Mitch McConnell or any other establishment Republican comes out to support them. It’s Trump they want, despite what happened in Georgia and what the news media is saying about Trump’s “diminished” standing in the GOP.
With Trump candidates for governor failing earlier in Idaho and Nebraska, it’s understandable that much of the post-Georgia coverage will be asking whether Trump’s star is fading, whether Republicans are beginning to move away from the former president. It’s understandable, but profoundly misleading. Taken as a whole, the primary season thus far has produced a slate of Republican Party winners overwhelmingly devoted to Trump’s obsession with the lie that Biden stole the 2020 election and is not a legitimate president. Further, looked at collectively, the Republican candidates have all but declared their intention to make sure that the “steal” does not happen the next time around, by controlling every lever of the election machinery.
George Soros pours tens of millions of dollars into state races for attorney general and secretary of state, inserting the most radical left candidates in U.S. history, but Republicans should be faulted for trying to do the same thing?
But the point is well taken. Even in Georgia, Trump’s influence was strongly felt.
Look past Kemp, and what do you see? In the other key Georgia race, Herschel Walker, whose sole political asset other than his football career is Trump’s backing, won the GOP Senate nomination outright. He joins a slate of other Trump-endorsed senatorial candidates — J.D. Vance in Ohio, Ted Budd in North Carolina and (pending a recount) Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania — as well as gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, who won in a landslide to the horror of the entire state’s Republican establishment. Yes, there are other cases where Trump’s choices lost — in the governor’s races in Idaho and Nebraska, for example — but by the time the primary season is over, Trump will be able to point to a significant number of contests where his support was the major, if not the sole, reason a candidate won.
Indeed. So why headlines like this in the aftermath of the primary election?
The New York Times: “At Least Trump Didn’t Get What He Wanted This Week”
The Hill: “Georgia deals critical blow to Trump’s kingmaker status”
Yahoo News: “Poll: Trump’s influence over Republicans wanes as GOP voters move on from ‘stolen election’ claims”
Financial Times: “Trump is losing his stranglehold on Republicans”
The media spends two years telling us something that was never true and then pretends to be shocked, shocked I say, when what wasn’t true turns out not to be true.
Aren’t they so smart?
Donald Trump will have influence wherever he’s popular. Duh. And Trump is still very popular with Republicans. A new CBS poll shows 52% of Republicans want their midterm nominees to show loyalty to Trump. And 44% of them said they want their primary nominees to focus on the 2020 election, per the poll.
Trump is still the odds-on favorite to win the nomination in 2024. The midterms didn’t change that.