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A ‘Trump hangover’ dragged down Republican midterm results, Paul Ryan says

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 11/10/2022 Nicole Lyn Pesce
© Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
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“I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket. I think Donald Trump gives us problems politically.” 

That was former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) blaming former President Donald Trump for Republicans performing weaker than expected in Tuesday’s midterms. 

As the election results have shown Democrats holding onto more Congressional seats than many expected, analysts and politicians on both sides of the aisle have been mulling over why we didn’t see a “red wave” wash over the House and the Senate this week. 

Ryan placed a lot of the blame on what he described as a “Trump hangover” while he was speaking with local Wisconsin station WISN News on Wednesday. 

“I think we’re gonna have to do a lot of soul-searching and head-scratching, and looking to parsing the numbers as to why we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to have,” he said. 

And when pressed about why Republicans saw some disappointing returns at the polls, Ryan said, “I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket.” 

“We lost the House, the Senate and the White House in two years when Trump was on the ballot or in office,” he said. “And I think we just have some Trump hangover. I think he’s a drag on our offices and our races.” 

Ryan isn’t alone here. Exit polling has shown that many Democrats and independents came out and voted partly to show their disapproval of former President Donald Trump, as well as to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing 50 years of precedent that protected the right to seek abortion. 

Read more: Anti-Trump vote and Dobbs abortion ruling boost Democrats in 2022 election

In light of the GOP’s disappointing midterm returns, a growing conservative chorus has called for the Republican Party to pivot away from Trump, and pay closer attention to the Georgia Senate runoff, which could determine which party controls the Senate, or to throw their support behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising Republican star. 

Read more: Trump vs. DeSantis: Midterm election results shake up the Republican 2024 field

Some Republicans, including former Trump adviser Jason Miller, are advising Trump to push his expected 2024 presidential launch until after the Georgia runoff election.

“I mean, we had a historic opportunity and Trump’s recruitment of unelectable candidates blew it for us,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist. “Trump’s now lost three elections in a row for the Republican Party and it’s time to snap out of this foolishness.”

Controversial British journalist Piers Morgan also ran an anti-Trump column in the New York Post on Thursday, writing that the midterms’ “biggest loser was the permanently whining, fuming former president, and he has only himself to blame.”

“The man who stunned the world with his astonishing presidential win in 2016 has become a serial electoral turnoff, losing the White House, the Senate and the House in 2020, and now costing Republicans big-time in the midterms,” he added.

Former President Trump responded to the public criticism by condemning the media on Truth Social. “So many of the people I Endorsed went on to victory on Tuesday Night, nobody was even close,” he wrote, as reported by the New York Post. 

So how did his picks perform? Trump endorsed 25 Senate candidates and 162 House candidates who were on the ballot in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Among those Senate endorsees,17 were declared winners by the Associated Press as of Wednesday. But there were several losers, including Republican Mehmet Oz’s 3.4-point loss to Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, which flipped that Senate seat blue — along with Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, Gerald Malloy in Vermont and Leora Levy in Connecticut, to name a few others who lost. 

But it should be noted that Trump-endorsed House candidates performed fairly well, with 141 of the 162 endorsees winning their elections by Wednesday afternoon.

Read more: Here’s how candidates endorsed by Trump performed in the midterm elections

And it should also be noted that despite working together while Trump was in the White House, there has been bad blood between Trump and Ryan since the latter retired from Congress. Last May, for example, Ryan urged the Republican Party to turn way from Trump — to which the former president responded by calling Ryan a “curse to the Republican Party.” 

And plenty of people on Twitter called Ryan out for waiting so long to speak out against Trump. 

The conversation and the viral “Trump’s kind of a drag” video led “Paul Ryan” to remain among the top Twitter trends on Thursday.

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