The GOP’s Double Trouble Trump Trap

Former President Trump’s candidacy could immediately jeopardize both the presidential election and control of Congress for Republicans, based on exit polls and midterm results.

  • Why is it important: Republicans will face continued pressure to nominate fringe candidates in primaries, continuing to cost GOP Senate

What happens: Trump is a double-edged sword, Axios’ Josh Kraushaar writes.

  • Trump juices turnout massively on the GOP side – but is an epic Democratic turnout machine.
  • And he’s a turnoff for independent voters who, against all expectations, supported the Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.

Look at the electoral map in 2024.

  • The Republicans have a big opening to win back the Senate – Dems hold 23 of the 33 Senate seats in 2024. But the GOP needs electable nominees in the swing states.
  • This choice showed that Trump and Trump-like candidates are turning off independent voters in eminently winnable places.

What we see: When Trump runs, the pressure to support him in primaries—or see the consequences—will be intense and omnipresent.

  • Given the dominance of activists in primaries, there is a good chance for more Dr. Oz-like candidates.

What we hear: Republican operatives fear that Trump is so damaged with the constituency that he could lose to a Democrat — even during a recession.

  • Another fear GOP operatives have: If Trump loses the primary, he can sabotage the winner either by running as a third-party candidate — or relentlessly dump the winning nominee and turn off his voters.

Zoom in: In ’24, Democrats will defend 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs. Keeping these Democratic seats will mean winning in a number of red and purple states:

  • Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

What’s next: Waiting in the wings is a bunch of MAGA-aligned candidates who could fight with independent voters.

  • Rep. Alex Mooney, a hardline conservative, is challenging Senator Joe Manchin. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is also expected to run after losing to Manchin in his last election.
  • In Arizona, Freedom Caucus Leader Rep. Andy Biggs is often touted as a potential candidate. His far right stance is reminiscent of the two losing Arizona GOP nominees in 2022 – Kari Lake and Blake Masters.

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