Commentary: US midterms – America appears to have passed ‘peak Trump’

Instead, what transpired was one of the best midterm election results for a sitting Democratic president in decades. This will inevitably give Republicans pause to think. The answer will not be difficult to deduce.

While Trump inspires a cult-like adulation from around 15 per cent of the population, his brand of “America first” nationalism has never commanded majority support. Indeed, in the 2016 presidential election, the 2018 midterms and again in the 2020 presidential election, the Democrats consistently won the popular vote – even though that popularity did not always translate into power.


But in the 2022 midterms, Trump’s negative impact on the result was clear. In the run-up to the vote on Nov 9, Trump endorsed a slate of candidates. These were chosen not on their political experience, but on their loyalty to him and his unfounded claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

These candidates underperformed on a national basis, robbing the Republicans of potentially winnable seats in a number of swing states.

This happened in Pennsylvania where out-of-state TV doctor Mehmet Oz lost to the Democrats by 8 per cent, and in Georgia where Herschel Walker also underperformed. The latter case is particularly illuminating.

Walker, a former football star, managed just 48 per cent of the vote against longtime incumbent Raphael Warnock and faces a runoff election in December. Meanwhile, the non-Trumpian mainstream Republican governor, Brian Kemp, was re-elected by a margin of more than seven points.

What this suggests is a willingness among many voters to reject Trumpian extremism without necessarily abandoning the whole Republican ticket. This pattern was repeated nationally, as Trump-endorsed candidates underperformed compared to mainstream Republicans.