Donald Trump could easily win the GOP nomination but then cost many who support him their positions of power across the country. Yes, Donald Trump could drag down the GOP in many ways in 2024.
Donald Trump: A ‘Loser’ Who Could Drag Down GOP?
You would think that due to Donald Trump’s early dominance in polls for the Republican nomination and his leadership in some surveys in a hypothetical match-up with President Joe Biden, Republicans running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would be excited.
Are Republican Candidates Gun-shy?
This is making recruits have second thoughts about running in Senate and House races that are critical to whether Republicans control both chambers in Congress after the next election cycle. If Trump performs badly, the GOP could even lose control of the House and remain in the minority in the Senate.
“If he’s going to be the nominee, you are better to wait and run after he washes out. Because you won’t have a prayer of winning,” former Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, a Republican, told Politico. “Some people have asked me, ‘Should I run next year?’ If you’re in a swing district, I said, ‘No,’”
Of course, Comstock is not in a swing district. President Joe Biden won the 10th Congressional District 58 to 39 percent in 2020, so Trump or no Trump, Comstock wouldn’t have a chance should she run again.
Candidates in Battleground States or Worrying About the Trump Effect
But other Republicans are in swing districts or purple states, and they are hesitant to throw their hats in the ring if they must run with Trump on the top of the ballot.
Pennsylvania is one such battleground. A candidate who is a premium recruit, David McCormick, is pondering another run for Senate in Pennsylvania. He has an excellent resume as a hedge fund CEO and combat veteran but has yet to pull the trigger on officially entering the race.
In-the-know Republicans who are helping McCormick are worried about Trump and Pennsylvania. “That’s about the only thing that they’re talking about,” said one of those advisers, according to Politico. This person added that Trump is looking strong in the primary race and that is the only thing that “may make him [McCormick] a little more wary. Can he [Trump] carry Pennsylvania?”
Pennsylvania leans more Democrat now than it did in 2016 when Trump barely won it over Hillary Clinton. Biden, born in Scranton, campaigned hard in the Keystone State to win there in 2020 in another close one. Plus, Trump’s handpicked Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz, lost to John Fetterman in 2022 in a race that was seen as winnable by Republicans.
Suburbs Will Be a Key Location for the GOP
Other Republicans are keenly aware that Republican Congressional candidates will have to do well in suburban areas if the GOP is going to hold the House and win the Senate.
Republican Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska, who sits in a swing district, is not looking forward to running with Trump on the ballot. “When you have chaos above you, and bizarre statements made every day, things you can’t defend, it makes it challenging.”
Donald Trump Doesn’t Feel Like a Loser
The Trump campaign sees things differently. “President Trump is the undisputed leader of the party, and he will defeat Biden in 2024. He is dominating poll after poll — both nationally and statewide — by wide margins,” said Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump. “There is no other person in this country who can generate the type of enthusiasm and energy that President Trump can.”
However, Democrats should also be fearful of running underneath Biden, who is polling weakly in many surveys – often in the 30s and low 40s for his likability. The president could drag Democrats down too if he loses his re-election fight. Many Americans may split their ballots, voting for one party for president and a different party in their state and local elections.
So, candidates for Congress from both sides of the aisle will have to gamble on their chances as many voters are not happy with Biden or Trump running again. Politics is local, and people will vote based on issues that are close to home even though they do not prefer the national candidate. Both parties hope the top of the ticket will not discourage their best candidates from running.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.