Other View: Poison pills: Trump, Roe and the Red Wave that wasn’t

The conventional wisdom has long been that there’s nothing Trump can ever do to lose the support of his core base. The midterms are the clearest sign yet that his hold is weakening.

Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate and former TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz speaks as former President Donald Trump listens at a rally to support local candidates at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sept. 3, 2022, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
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Many a pundit predicted that in the first elections since the overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer, crime and inflation would overshadow abortion rights in turning people out to the polls. Tuesday night, Americans around the country proved them wrong.

Five states had abortion-related measures on the ballot, and in an all five , the pro-choice contingent won out. In exit polls, Democratic voters reported being driven primarily by concerns over abortion. It turns out that access to choice is and will likely remain a powerful motivator for many voters, a reality predicted by none other than Donald Trump, who in a classic bit of double-talk earlier this year said that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision — one made possible enabled by his own nomination of three hardline conservatives to the court — would be “bad for Republicans.”

While the former president was right about that, he was very wrong about voters’ affinity for him and his brand of politician. In high-profile race after high-profile race, both statewide contests and swing congressional districts, Trump’s motley crew of handpicked candidates underperformed. His star power notwithstanding, Dr. Oz fell to John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Doug Mastriano, who participated in the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, lost his gubernatorial bid in that same state. Herschel Walker is headed to a Senate runoff in Georgia.

In Maryland and Massachusetts, Republican primary voters nominated full-fledged Trumpers — and decisively surrendered governorships to Democrats. Other Trump acolytes were defeated or are trailing in still-uncalled races, like election denier Kari Lake in her bid for Arizona governor. (Trump and his minions did notch some victories, but the most notable GOP win may have been one that threatens the former president’s shot at remaining the Republican standard-bearer: the easy reelection of Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida.)

We can’t help but think that one of the things that energized Democrats and many others exhausted by Trump’s brand of politics was the news late last week that he’s all but ready to leap into the 2024 race.


The conventional wisdom has long been that there’s nothing Trump can ever do to lose the support of his core base. The midterms are the clearest sign yet that his hold is weakening. Huzzah.

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