Updated Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Midterms 2022: How Trump endorsements worked out

Data: AP, FiveThirtyEight; Note: Includes races that the Cook Political Report rates as some degree of competitive. Trump must have endorsed the candidate before the primary election; Chart: Thomas Oide and Andrew Solender/Axios

Former President Trump’s political staying power is on the ballot Tuesday as candidates he elevated in midterm primaries now face competitive general elections.

Why it matters: Trump’s ability to clear primary fields and handpick nominees demonstrated his continued grip on the GOP, but if his candidates consistently underperform other Republicans it could threaten to hamper plans for a political comeback.

By the numbers: Trump issued primary endorsements to 37 candidates now running in general elections rated as competitive by Cook Political Report — or, in the case of secretary of state races, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

  • Nine of those candidates are running for governor, two for secretary of state, 11 for Senate and 15 for House.

What we’re watching: Senate and gubernatorial races will be the primary arena where this dynamic plays out.

  • The former president’s endorsement helped push some candidates over the top in crowded open primaries: Kari Lake and Blake Masters in Arizona, J.D. Vance in Ohio, Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.
  • In other instances, he helped candidates avoid contested primaries altogether, as in the case of Herschel Walker in Georgia.

Between the lines: Trump’s big risk is that losses by enough of his handpicked candidates could fuel accusations that he committed the cardinal sin of putting his personal pursuit of political vengeance above the interests of the party.

  • He often threw his weight behind candidates who trumped his claims of fraud in the 2020 election the loudest.
  • He also endorsed MAGA candidates like Joe Kent in Washington’s 3rd District and John Gibbs in Michigan’s 3rd District, both of whom knocked off moderate, swing-district House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment.
Go deeper