For much of this campaign cycle, even though the former president remained popular with the GOP base, many party leaders had hoped that the losses of the candidates Trump had tied himself to might hurt his credibility at approaching 2024. As a Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell put, the emphasis had to be “quality of candidate— a lingering concern after the GOP primaries ended with the victory of a number of pro-Trump conservatives with clear responsibilities come the time of the general election.
But many of Trump’s favorite candidates have recovered in the final days of the campaign as Republicans surge nationwide, with draw or better prospects in Senate races in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and New Hampshire.
The fact that Biden campaigned in heavily Democratic New York on Sunday showed how seriously his party is concerned about massive losses.
Already, Democrats entered the weekend resigned not just to the likelihood that they would lose the House, but to the growing risk that they would also lose the Senate.
“I don’t feel well,” said Matt Bennett of centre-left group Third Way.
Democratic pollster Molly Murphy, president of Impact Research, said, “October is where he really came down to earth, and it’s still where he is.”
“They dropped a ton of money,” said Murphy, whose firm was Biden’s chief pollster in the 2020 election. “And in a bad cycle and when the economy is still bad, all of that results in what I think looks like an increasingly difficult night for Democrats.”
Sunday, the final CBS News poll on midterms found that Democrats had caught up with Republicans in their enthusiasm for the election, erasing a 9-percentage-point GOP advantage in voter interest last month.
Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that “we need to translate this to the people who come out.”
But Democrats still face their own problems within the party after nearly two years of infighting over policy. Saturday, Senator. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) torn in Biden for pledging to shut down coal plants during a speech in California, saying “comments like these are the reason the American people are losing faith in President Biden.” The centrist Democrat called Biden’s language “offensive and disgusting.”
Amanda Renteria, who was the national political director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, said she was “preparing for impact” on Tuesday, not just because of the expected losses, but because of “the kind of politics that winning right now.”
“What makes me nervous is that you’re going to have people denying the election and making jokes about [the attack on] Paul Pelosithen win an election and have a mandate to not just continue that kind of intensity and that kind of rhetoric,” she said.
“We usually think after an election, we’re going to come together now. But it’s not set up to even be able to say that,” Renteria added. “We are in the space of an endless election cycle that never gets a chance to recover, reconcile and even pretend to try to come together and bring the country together.”
Biden, as he did in his presidential run two years ago, framed the midterms in historical terms, telling his supporters in Pennsylvania that they were “choosing between two very different visions of America”.
Trump on the same night drew a stark contrast to his top potential 2024 opponents, touting his standing in early polls.
Two days after telling onlookers at the Iowa rally he would “very, very, very likely” do so in 2024, Trump also began belittling his potential chief Republican rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – describing him as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
“The fact that Trump, after losing and with all of his legal troubles and with his polarizing personality, can still arguably not just be a frontrunner but probably waltz to the nomination speaks to [the fact that] it’s his Republican party,” said John Thomas, a Republican strategist.
Still, in an acknowledgment of Trump’s likely continuing problems winning over voters in the general election, Thomas added, “I’m just grateful he didn’t [announce a presidential run] before mid-terms. Because the gains we are making with white women would not happen.