The ouster of Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) is a landmark event in the ongoing battle between Trump’s America First platform and the GOP establishment. The former president has endorsed more than 200 candidates running at the local, state, and federal levels. According to Ballotpedia, 187 of those with his blessing have won their primary elections while only 17 did not, representing a 92% success rate. It seems both Trump the man and the Trump effect are destined to shape the future of the Republican Party.
Primary Elections Reveal the Trump Effect
Since the beginning of the primary season, Trump-endorsed candidates have dealt upsets to a number of more establishment-friendly Republican contenders. In Arizona, former television news host Kari Lake won the gubernatorial nomination, and Blake Masters won his Senate primary. State Rep. Mark Finchem was victorious in becoming the GOP’s nominee for secretary of state, while David Farnsworth won his primary against incumbent state Representative Rusty Bowers. Ohio saw the author of the wildly popular book Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance, secure a shock victory over GOP favorites Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan. And, of course, the end of the Cheney dynasty in Wyoming is the latest episode.
Republican members of the House who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building have not fared well this primary season. While several opted not to seek re-election, Reps. Peter Meijer (R-MI), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Tom Rice (R-SC) were defeated in their races, much like Liz Cheney.
Trump’s Next Test
The performance of Trump’s preferred candidates in the primary elections is a testament to the power the former president still wields on the right. It reveals that the conservative base still trusts 45 despite attempts to undermine him from both sides of the aisle.
Primary elections, however, are not the only test Trump is set to face. Soon, the nation will be looking to the general races, where the former president’s influence will be under scrutiny from his opponents and allies alike. While Republican voters have supported most of Trump’s endorsements, he did raise a few eyebrows when he decided to back Senate candidates Herschel Walker and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Some have questioned the wisdom of these choices and are not convinced they can defeat their Democratic opponents in November.
Still, the odds appear to be in Trump’s favor. Republicans are widely expected to retake the House and possibly even the Senate. Much of this is due to historical trends – the opposite party of the one controlling the White House typically picks up at least one chamber of the legislature in the midterms. Making such an outcome even more probable, the dismal performance of the Biden administration and congressional Democrats will likely be on voters’ minds.
If the GOP manages to bring about the highly anticipated red wave, it will solidify Trump’s position as a kingmaker and the ultimate leader of the conservative movement. This momentum would likely place the president in a favorable position as the campaign for 2024 begins.