After the storm on the Capitol, President Trump’s reputation got a crack even within its own ranks – even if many Republicans still stand by him. But even the Senate election in Georgia showed that Trump’s traction is fading.
Since January 6th everything seems to be different in the USA. Some Republicans are turning their backs on Donald Trump, there is speculation about a quick ousting of the president and he is meek. Surveys show that he still enjoys great approval from Republican voters – according to a Yougov survey, 45 percent thought the storming of the Capitol was okay.
But many Republicans also realize that Trump has now gone too far. Those voters who voted for him because of the content and fear of allegedly radical left democrats could now turn away. It is uncertain how many that will actually be, but at least in Washington, former allies broke away from him – including top politicians like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, as well as ministers and White House staff.
However, there have been signs before that that Trump’s luster is fading. The Georgia election, for example. The defeats of the Senate candidates were also on his cap. The candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue themselves are to blame for their defeats – both looked pale. Perdue, a former manager and millionaire, and Loeffler, also a wealthy businesswoman, offered little inspiration as to why they should get more out of the Georgia people.
No agreement, no clear message
But Trump’s constant cross-shots, which divided the local Republicans, did them even more harm. Trump railed against Republican Governor Brian Kemp and State Secretary Brad Raffensperger, accusing them of tolerating and enabling election fraud. So the Republicans seemed divided. That is never helpful before an important choice.
The fraud allegations themselves also caused problems. Many of the Republican voters wondered why they should cast their vote when in the end – allegedly – they were tricked and cheated again. At the same time, Trump and the two candidates vehemently called for voting. That didn’t match and may have caused confusion. A clear message is just as important in the election campaign as unity.
The biggest problem was Trump himself. Apparently, the pattern of the presidential election was repeated in the runoff election. The incumbent continued to polarize so much that both his supporters and opponents flocked to the polling stations. Again there was a very high turnout in Georgia. And again the Trump opponents managed to lure more people to the polls than the Republicans. The Democrats have beaten Trump twice in a row in Georgia. Although this time he was not personally eligible for election, he still dominated the election campaign with his scam of fraud.
Would it have been better without Trump?
Even before Washington’s Chaos Day, Republicans had to wonder whether they would not have done better without Trump. The result of the presidential elections could already be seen as a vote for a strong Republican party without Trump. Biden won clearly against the New Yorker. But the Republicans regained seats in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate they at least prevented the clear loss of the majority – contrary to the expectations of many. Many could do without Trump, but many voters still wanted strong Republicans.
If Trump had admitted his electoral defeat, the election campaign in Georgia would have been different. Republicans could have spoken with one voice and taught their voters the importance of defending the Senate majority in Washington to keep the Democrats in check. But as it was, all of this was drowned out by Trump’s fraud.
This gave Trump’s victorious nimbus more cracks, even before he finally made himself an indisputable figure due to last Wednesday’s attempted coup. True, thanks to his popularity, he will continue to exert great influence. If he stands behind a politician, the base is sure to be sympathetic to him. If he stands against them, they are sidelined. But what’s the point if the Democrats regularly manage to mobilize more voters, precisely because Trump supports this one candidate? If there are consistently more Trump opponents than supporters, then it doesn’t seem particularly wise to continue betting on him. After the events of January 6, it has become even more likely that more Republicans will break away from Trump. Because it is now clear: Trump is no longer a trump card.