Midterms: Republicans still have a chance to get off Trump's toxicity

2022 mid-term elections has shown that abortion rights and the toxicity of Trump are major issues that Republicans have failed to address in a manner that could fetch them votes

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Rajesh Ahuja
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Donald Trump (File photo)

New Delhi: The US mid-term elections have provided another opportunity for the Republican Party to wash its hands of the “toxic” influence of former President Donald Trump but the big question is whether the party will avail the chance or let it slip away as it did after the 2020 election loss or following the January 6 Capitol attack.

So far the results have made it clear that there was no "red wave" in the US midterms as the upper house Senate remains tied at 49 seats each for the Republican Party and the Democrats. Mark Kelly has emerged victorious in the hotly contested senate seat in Arizona. 

Two more seats - Nevada and Georgia are yet to be decided. But Democrats as hopeful of clinching Nevada giving them 50 seats in the upper house. 

In the case of the upper house remaining tied as 50 seats each for both the parties, as was the case earlier, Democrats will retain control of the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris using her tie-breaking vote to settle any legislative issue in their favour. 

Georgia is heading for a run-off in December as none of the candidates could garner a simple majority of 50 per cent required under the Georgia law.

In the lower house too, Republicans have performed lower than expectations and are projected to just barely cross the majority figure of 218. Some analysts are even doubting that as many races that are yet to be called are turning tight and could go anywhere.

The prospect of a simple majority in Congress under doubt and status-quo in the Senate has come as a rude shock for many Republicans who remained beholden to Trump in the last two years, in hope that he will help them to snatch a majority in both the houses in the mid-term.

Many Republicans are now reviewing their support for Trump and there have been many Republican quotes floating in the US media terming Trump’s agenda as “toxic”.

Some Party leaders are questioning the wisdom of the Republican establishment’s covert and overt endorsement of Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Many candidates who were election deniers (those who endorsed Trump's claim that he didn’t lose the 2020 elections) and were endorsed by the former president have lost in the mid-term. 

Voices are emerging that the party should move beyond Trump and look at Florida Governor Ron Desantis as the one who would be able to dislodge Joe Biden from the White House in 2024. 

The Republican leadership - Mitch McConnell in Senate and Kevin McCarthy in the lower house - have come under attack and their first priority is to retain their respective positions following the lower-than-expected performance. 

It is also becoming increasingly clear even their open embrace of Trump is not going make certain that they get the votes of all Trump loyalists who want a total surrender from the leadership on the agenda of Trump.

Many in the party, like New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, have told Trump to defer the announcement of his presidential bid for 2024 as it may cost the party the run-off in Georgia. Virginia Lt Governor Winsome Earle-Sears has told Trump to step aside as candidates endorsed by the former president have performed poorly.

The Republican Party had a chance to get rid of Trump after the 2020 White House loss but rather it remained mum as Trump rather mounted an outrageous campaign to remain seated as the President by denying the election loss altogether. 

There were angry voices against Trump in the party after January 6, 2021, attack on Capitol but they soon subsided and the Republican embrace of Trump continued in hope that he is going to get them votes.

Now, despite the unpopularity of Joe Biden as president, high inflation and concerns over rising crime, the Republicans have failed to wrest control of both houses. 

It was a golden opportunity for the Republican Party to pocket both houses and make the next two years of the Biden presidency really hard in terms of executing his agenda but the 2022 mid-term elections has shown that abortion rights and the toxicity of Trump are major issues that Republicans have failed to address in a manner that could fetch them votes.

The poor performance in the mid-term is another chance for the Republican Party to re-evaluate its open embrace of Trump.

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