“Blame Donald Trump” is the name of the game after the long-promised red wave turned into a red ripple Tuesday night. Republicans appeared likely to narrowly recapture the House, with the Senate still a toss-up.
The former president received the brunt of the blame by some Republicans for the underperformance, with several high-profile Trump-backed candidates on the ballot failing to capture key races and deliver a GOP sweep of both houses of Congress.
Amid questions about Mr. Trump’s viability for another run in 2024, some conservatives argued it’s time for the GOP to dump Mr. Trump and rally around the man who many now view as the future of the party: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“We need a Republican overhaul. Trump pushed a bunch of candidates that SUCK and everyone knew it, but we have no choice but to go along. We had everything on our side and missed the mark. DeSantis is the new head of the party, not a 76-year-old man,” Republican communications strategist Caleb Hull wrote in a series of tweets. “Been saying it since the last election: it’s moronic to convince your base that their vote won’t matter because it will be stolen.”
Mr. DeSantis, whose relationship with Mr. Trump has recently soured despite receiving the ex-president’s endorsement, won reelection handily against Democrat Charlie Crist.
“The voters are ready to move on from Trump,” tweeted Republican commentator Erick Erickson.
SEE ALSO: Ohio’s J.D. Vance omits Trump in Senate victory speech
Outside of Florida, the GOP “has no message,” tweeted the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. “No discipline. No leadership. No courage to confront the important issues head on. That’s why they’re losing to literally brain-damaged candidates. We need a total overhaul.”
The biggest blow to Republicans came in Pennsylvania, where GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz lost to Democrat John Fetterman. Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano was also bested by his Democratic challenger, Josh Shapiro. Both Republicans were endorsed by Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump, who is expected to announce a 2024 White House bid next week at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, spent the past weeks crisscrossing the country and fundraising for his candidates. Still, his large MAGA influence with the base was unable to flip crucial Senate seats in places like New Hampshire, where Republican Don Bolduc lost to Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
The closely watched Georgia Senate race between Republican Herschel Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock appeared headed for a run-off, which means control of the Senate may not be known for weeks.
Other key Senate races in Arizona and Nevada were still too close to call.
Republicans needed a net gain of one seat to take the Senate and five in the House.
Several Trump-backed House candidates also failed to turn blue districts red as it appeared Republicans would capture the chamber with a slim majority, making governing all the more difficult.
Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich touted Mr. Trump’s “ability to pick and elect winners” while laying blame on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for redirecting campaign funds away from certain GOP candidates in the final weeks before the election.
“McConnell … whose job is to support Senate candidates, abandoned winnable races in New Hampshire and Arizona, and still the Arizona race is too close to call,” Mr. Budowich told The Washington Times in a statement. “As President Trump looks to the future, he will continue to champion his America First agenda that won overwhelmingly at the ballot box.”
Bright spots for Mr. Trump came in Ohio, where Republican J.D. Vance defeated Democrat Tim Ryan for the Senate, and in Florida for Mr. DeSantis. However, Mr. Vance notably omitted Mr. Trump’s name from the dozens of people whom he thanked in his victory speech.
Mr. Trump described the night as “A GREAT EVENING” in a series of posts on his social media site Truth Social, writing that “the Fake News Media, together with their partner in crime, the Democrats, are doing everything possible to play it down.”
He has taken notice of Mr. DeSantis’ rising stardom, warning the governor in recent days to stand down from running against him or else he’ll reveal “things about him that won’t be very flattering,” including about his wife, Mr. Trump told reporters.
“Now that the Election in Florida is over, and everything went quite well, shouldn’t it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 Million more votes in Florida than Ron D got this year, 5.7 Million to 4.6 Million?” Mr. Trump posted on Truth Social. “Just asking?”