Can they win without him?
Most Republicans in leadership weren’t big fans of Donald Trump when he first announced his candidacy for the Republican Party primary in 2015. That’s no secret.
Trump spent the majority of his life as a Democrat prior to 2015, after all. He was a reality television star and real estate tycoon with no previous political experience. Plus, Republican Party leadership had other plans for their nominee.
Those plans did not include Donald Trump.
Trump made disliking him easy for leadership Republicans during the 2016 primary, it must be admitted. From insulting nicknames to throwing around the considerable weight of his online Twitter following, Trump seemed to revel in openly antagonizing his more stolid competition.
In part, it was this antagonistic attitude toward leadership Republicans — it must also be admitted — which endeared Trump to so many disenchanted working-class Republican voters wearied sick by a decade-long losing streak to the left on everything from elections to the culture war.
On this side of the Trump years, members of the Republican Party old guard like former House Speaker Paul Ryan are fond of warning that the Republican Party’s Pied Piper is leading conservatives right off a cliff.
“A couple of factors, but I personally think the evidence is really clear,” Paul Ryan said during a recent post-midterm interview. “The biggest factor was the Trump factor.”
“Just look at Chris Sununu, he ran ahead of Bolduc in New Hampshire,” Ryan went on. “Look at where Kemp ran ahead of Walker in Georgia. So I think we would have clearly won the Senate had we had traditional Republicans in the general election like these governors did. I think we would have won places like Arizona, places like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire had we had a traditional conservative Republican, not a Trump Republican.”
“What we now know is it’s pretty clear with Trump, we lose,” said Mr. Ryan. “So I don’t mean this personally: It’s just evidence. We lost the House in ’18. We lost the presidency in ’20, and the Senate in ’20, now in 2022, we should have and could have won the Senate. We didn’t, and we have a lower majority in the House…