And a handful of media outlets have offered similar reviews: “President Trump showed the power of his notes in Republican redundancies in Alabama and Texas, ended a short loss streak, and showed the strong appeal he still holds among GOP voters, even as his national approvals slide, ”reporters said in the Wall Street Journal. In June, Trump’s campaign listed his winning primary choices as evidence that “the enthusiasm is real,” and a opinion piece in the conservative news site Western Journal stated that “Dems should vibrate in their boots”: “Numbers never lie – and neither do the results.”
But if you really bother analyzing Trump’s endorsement record, the numbers aren’t as impressive as the president or his allies make them sound. In fact, Trump-approved candidates have lost not one or two, but at least five races: Virginia representativeDenver Riggleman lost his chance on a new term to Bob Good; Lynda Bennett lost to 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn in an open seat race in North Carolina to the old district of Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows; and representative of Colorado for five terms Scott Tipton was defeated for re-nomination by gun rights activist and alleged QAnon conspiracy theorist Lauren Boebert. Trump also failed to get the treasurer’s race in North Dakota right Daniel Johnston lost to fellow Republican Thomas Beadle. And earlier, Trump went full out in his approval of the incumbent Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, which was beaten in April by Liberal Jill Karofsky.
And those were the formal notes. He also fell in an informal way: Trump actively tweeted against the Kentucky representative Thomas Massie, although he never formally endorsed Massie’s opponent Todd McMurtry. Nevertheless, Massie easily won his primary in June.
Even with those losses, you might still think Trump’s record is pretty good … until they take a closer look at the winners he chose. We wanted to check every 2020 approval:Ballotpedia counts 115 elections for the entire house, the senate and the state, eleven of which have not yet happened – and this is what we found. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request to clarify his July 15th “88 and 2” tweet.
The vast majority of the president notes are for incumbents. In 23 cases, Trump’s preferred candidate either did not face an opponent at all or had a little-known rival who dropped out for the qualifying round, which rather challenged ‘winning approval’. In 69 of the remaining cases, the candidate endorsed by the President faced at best symbolic opposition, averaging only about 16 percent of the vote in second place. Few approved candidates faced an opponent with some electoral experience. As others have done notedMany of the president’s tweets are quite general, with little variation – and on inspection, with little import.
In short, Trump approved 92 candidates in races where the approval was irrelevant – only an indictment could keep his candidate from winning, and maybe not even.
What about the close races? Of all the candidates Trump endorsed, only 12 had a serious chance of losing, determined in retrospect by the fact that his candidate ultimately won by 15 percentage points or less.
Trump’s candidate won five: in the 7th district of Pennsylvania (where Lisa Scheller won 51 percent to 48 percent), in the 8th and 50th districts of California (where former representative Darrell Issa won by 3 percentage points and stands Assemblyman Jay Obernolte won by 14.2 percentage points), in Utah (where Attorney General Sean Reyes kept his job 54 percent to 46 percent), and in Texas with Jackson (who won by 11 percentage points). Add that to Tuberville in Alabama, which won more than 20 percentage points but faced a former Senator and U.S. Attorney General in Sessions, and that gives Trump six real claims to make the difference – races where the candidate might not have won without his tweets of support.
But remember, there are six more – in Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, in addition to Massie in Kentucky – where Trump put his thumb on the scales and lost his candidate by 5 to 76 percentage points. Another race, in Texas, is about to be recounted after the choice of Trump and his challenger approved by Ted Cruz separated by just seven votes in their primary runoff last week. Trump may have a technical endorsement record of 98 and 5, but take the president’s successes against his losses in the 12 races it mattered, and his official seal of approval is no better than 50-50 in reality.
Trump has a lot of influence from candidates in the GOP ‘ fear of its base, and the feeling that you can’t cross Trump without costing yourself a political career. An alleged near-perfect endorsement report may erroneously reinforce the idea that one cannot be an elected official in the Republican Party without Donald Trump’s blessing.
But as evidence shows, Trump’s prowess isn’t nearly as strong as he or his supporters suggest. There’s a big difference between a 99 percent conversion rate and the truth: If Trump is putting his name on the line for you, it’s more of a toss if it helps at all.