- President Donald Trump cost the Republican Party dearly during his time in office, culminating in Democrats sweeping the Georgia runoffs to regain control of the Senate.
- For the first time since 2008, Democrats control both chambers of Congress along with the White House.
- “Trump f—-ed the party,” a paid Trump adviser told a Bloomberg reporter.
- “He f—-ed the party with his conspiracy theories and pushing females and independents away from the party. The bleeding needs to stop. He needs to go.”
- Depsite all of the recommendations of an RNC “autopsy” following the 2012 election, Trump did the exact opposite during his time in office and left the GOP at square one.
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Since Trump took office in 2017, the GOP lost its House majority in the 2018 midterms, saw once reliable red states like Georgia and Arizona become competitive for Democrats, and now the Senate majority is gone too come January 20. On top of all that, Trump became one of just 10 presidents in US history to lose reelection.
Even though Republicans only needed to hold onto one of the two Senate seats that were up in the Georgia runoffs, Trump’s pursuit of revenge against state election officials by calling the legitimacy of the vote into question and forcing the issue of $2,000 checks on GOP senators contributed to the Democratic sweep.
For some Republican operatives, Trump’s overall comportment and vitriol doomed the party.
—Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 6, 2021
One Trump adviser told Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg that “Trump f—-ed the party. He f—-ed the party with his conspiracy theories and pushing females and independents away from the party. The bleeding needs to stop. He needs to go.”
The GOP still has strongholds in state legislatures across the country, and Trump was able to drastically transform the nation’s judiciary with the help of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
By 2022, the party will also be in a good position to retake the House. Frst term presidents historically pay a price in the midterms — as Trump did in 2018 — and Republicans will only need to flip less than 10 seats to get the majority back.
But those silver linings are overshadowed by the decimation of the party at the national level going into 2021.
For the first time since 2008, Democrats will control both chambers of Congress as well as the presidency.
Think pieces are already pouring in on the future of the GOP, and whether the Trumpiest candidates who have been winning Republican primaries are going to be enough to bring the party back to power.
There are some parallels between the shape Trump left the party in compared to former President George W. Bush. Both left their party completely out of power in Congress upon leaving office, and both oversaw severe economic crises at the end of their presidencies.
The difference with Trump is how he remade the party in his own image.
Those with presidential ambitions of their own are already jockeying ahead of 2024 to flex their MAGA bona fides. Trump still exerts such control over the party following his loss that only a handful of Congressional Republicans are willing to stand up to his efforts to overturn the election, and it took weeks for some to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden as such.
Even though Republicans lost their power in Congress and the White House following both Bush and Trump’s tenures in office, identifying as a Bush Republican following 2008 was unthinkable, while sticking with Trump is still the play for many Republicans at the national level.
After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee released an “autopsy” in 2013 to figure out what went wrong for Mitt Romney and the party writ large. It recommended making more appeals to people of color and changing the party’s image.
In the 100 page memo, GOP brass warned of a party “increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.”
Trump was able to win in 2016 by doing the exact opposite of many of the autopsy’s recommendation, villainizing illegal immigrants and running on a grievance-driven platform.
Yet despite his victory in 2016, a Republican still has not won the presidency while securing the popular vote since 2004, and in terms of Congressional power, Trump left the party back at square one.