Column: The Trump effect — What does the Republican Party do now?


This was quite an unusual election.

As the dust settles on the 2022 Midterms, voters are finding that the “Red Wave” expected to crash over the country and flood the halls of Congress with new Republican members turned out to be little more of a translucent-pink trickle. 

After failing to drown the Democratic majority in the Senate, a fraught campaign barely guided the Republican party to a projected single-digit majority in the House of Representatives.

In Pennsylvania, a wave did indeed come, but it wasn’t red as many pundits expected.

Rather, the state went blue on all accounts on election night. 

New Sen. John Fetterman defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz to flip the retired Sen. Pat Toomy’s old seat, Congresswoman Susan Wild retained her position against a tough challenger in Lisa Scheller and Josh Shapiro handily defeated MAGA-Republican Doug Mastriano in the gubernatorial race.

It is difficult to stress just how unexpected these results are. Midterm elections are meant to be a referendum on the party in power. History tells us that the party of the president should expect to lose seats in both chambers in off-year elections, and Biden’s widespread unpopularity should have catapulted Republicans into a position of considerable legislative authority.

Pundits on both sides of the aisle have started to blame these surprising results on a political figure who, at this point, is no stranger to breaking historical precedent: former president Donald Trump.

Trump involved himself in the campaign process in a way that is uncommon of presidents after they leave office, especially for one ousted from power by the American people. 

The former president spent the early months of the primaries attempting to dictate the direction of various races from his Mar-a-Lago resort, handing out highly coveted endorsements to whoever would be willing to parrot his talking points the loudest, in some instances even endorsing opposing candidates.

Due to the considerable influence that Trump still holds on the Republican base, his endorsed candidates in many races made their way into the general election on the basis of 2020 election lies and anti-woke culture war rhetoric.

In many ways, promoting these more extreme and ideologically driven candidates gave Democrats a considerable advantage heading into election day, and many top Republicans knew it.

These results indicate that most 2022 voters are no longer interested in the 2020 election, the demonization of transgender youth or any other conspiratorial and anti-intellectual components of the MAGA playbook.

Perhaps the most stinging thing about this for Republicans is that they could have made far greater strides if they focused on the actual issues that people care about. The candidates that did, like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, won, and won big. 

Biden is presiding over the worst inflation rate in the last 40 years, over 80% of the population is unhappy with where the country is heading and he has proven himself to be a woefully uninspiring leader. Republicans would have run away with this election if they had focused their energy on Biden’s agenda and why it hasn’t worked.

If only Trump hadn’t once again made it all about himself.

As I am writing this — at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 — Trump has not yet announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, although he is expected to do just that in a speech later today. 

If he were to run again, the Republican party would find itself in an annoyingly difficult position. 

They have what many conservative voters see as a presidential golden child in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a figure who, although not devoid of controversy and intensely disliked by liberals, appeals to many in the Trump voter base without the political baggage or vitriolic outbursts characteristic of the 45th president.

A protracted battle between the two in the 2024 presidential election would besmirch both figures and split the MAGA side of the Republican voter base, potentially allowing for a moderate figure to step in and steal the nomination for themself.

It is clear that the wedge between the moderate and extremist sides of the Republican party that first started to widen with the advent of Trump seven years ago is near its breaking point, and until they finally sever, both factions will be worse off.

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  1. My there is a lot to respond to within this opinion piece. I applaud you for tackling the issue but given your youth, might I suggest that you spend your time asking questions within such pieces as opposed to spouting third party talking points. I also suggest that you be more open/forthright about sharing your bias – as opposed to sprinkling them throughout the piece. Again, writing about politics is one of the “third-rails” within journalism (vey difficult to do effectively) and I encourage you to continue addressing the issue (practice makes perfect). Just remember “slow is fast”….it will serve you well. Pax.

    • What do you mean by the term “third party” I can think of two interpretations; Brendan as a third party or dissident Republicans as a third party.

      “be more open/forthright about sharing your bias” He is writing for The Brown and White, to me that indicates that a liberal bias is in effect. As articles go this is less biased than most. the fact that “The candidates that did, like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, won, and won big.” is written shows that to me. Conservative victories, ideals or facts do not often appear in B&W articles

      • Bob – quite simple actually….some of the “points” young Brendon noted can easily be found on “CNN” or MSNBC…. hardly independent or unbiased sources. As I reflected further on the column, I would have found the piece more noteworthy if it asked why the election went the way it did followed by some well reasoned commentary; followed by what does it mean for the electorate going forward. Pax

  2. Very well written.

    “It is difficult to stress just how unexpected these results are.” With the negative influence of DJT in proposing and backing nominees coupled with Democratic efforts in getting extremist candidates nominated one could see the results coming, (some states do not require a party registration to vote in a primary).

    I wonder if McConnell’s lack of financial support for Trumpist nominees helped in their general demise. . Lack of Republican unity is rampant.

    “Republicans would have run away with this election if they had focused their energy on Biden’s agenda and why it hasn’t worked.” Run away is strong but Trump backed candidates consistently ran 5% of votes cast behind other Republican candidates. Kemp beat Abrams for the 2nd time for GA governor with 4 million votes cast each time, by 0.4% in 2018 and 7.5% in 2022. 2022 Trump senate nominee Walker (former UGA football star and former Trump employee) was .9% behind Warnock; they will have a runoff because neither exceeded 50%. Pre election day voting starts tomorrow.

    The Republican party will be in turmoil as long as Trump remains engaged in his ego fueled antics and his base remain mesmerized. The media will be thrilled, even as they decry his actions

  3. “… Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a figure who, although not devoid of controversy and intensely disliked by liberals,” not devoid of controversy – To me it looks like a creative response to the controversy of illegal immigration, the problem no one wants to solve. At this time, apparently President Trump agrees with liberals on Gov. Ron DeSantis.

    • Bruce Haines ‘67 on

      Liberals don’t like Ron DeSantis because he tells it like it is & is both very smart & articulate. He is a true threat to their Marxist agenda for America & they know it.

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