Several pollsters in the United States (US) had predicted a "red wave" ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, signaling Republican control over both, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
However, the reality did not pan out in the same way, much to the dismay of former President Donald Trump – who was banking on the wave to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential polls.
While the ballots are still being counted, the House is poised to pass into Republican control, but the jury is still out on the Senate.
While it remains to be seen which party got the better in the election, what comes out glaringly is that Trump is the "biggest loser" in the high-profile race.
Trump-Backed Candidates Falter in Polls
Ahead of the polls, Trump campaigned for the midterm elections like never before. He attended at least 30 rallies in person and dozens virtually, organised and participated in fundraisers, and personally endorsed dozens of Republican candidates.
However, several such candidates either lost the election, or are currently trailing in their respective seats.
One of the most closely-watched election battles was fought in the state of Pennsylvania. Flipping the Republican seat, Democrat John Fetterman pulled off an impressive win over the Trump-backed Mehmet Oz.
Further, Democrat Josh Shapiro beat Republican Doug Mastriano in the race for governor.
Trump's handpicked candidate for governor, Tudor Dixon, also failed to wrest Democrat Gretchen Whitmer's seat.
Also, Jocelyn Benson managed to defeat Republican Kristina Karamo – who has been known to endorse the theory that the 2020 presidential election had been "stolen" by Joe Biden.
Many other candidates backed by Trump have been trailing, such as Kari Lake and Blake Masters in Arizona, and Herschel Walker in Georgia.
A Challenger to Trump Emerges in Ron DeSantis
While Republican candidates faced tough fights all over the country, one candidate which stood out was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who swept his election with a nearly 20 point lead over his Democratic opponent.
Four years ago, the 44-year-old had won from the seat by only half a percentage point.
Amid the setback for Trump, DeSantis' defining victory might rejig the Republican pool for the 2024 presidential run. If DeSantis announces his nomination for the polls, Trump for the first time may face a serious challenge in the party primaries.
Ahead of his election run, DeSantis had already landed in the bad books of Trump by refusing to be backed by him. This led to a bitter feud between them, with Trump saying that DeSantis could "could hurt himself very badly" and that he could reveal facts about the leader which won't be "very flattering."
Trump also addressed him as "Ron DeSanctimonious" during an election rally recently.
What Do Experts Have to Say About the Polls & Trump's Prospects for 2024?
A large number of experts and politicians who had rallied behind Trump ahead of the election admitted that there was no red wave, thus terming Trump's prospects in the 2024 polls as "weak."
Mike Cernovich, who has been a Trump cheerleader for years, took to Twitter to say, "Trump has zero shot at 2024 in general. After tonight, this isn't up for debate."
He also jumped ship, and endorsed Trump's Republican rival: "DeSantis in 2024 or accept total defeat."
Peter King, another Trump loyalist, asserted that he "strongly" believed that the former president should no longer be the face of the Republican Party. "The party can’t become a personality cult," he said.
Speaking about the dozens of candidates backed by Trump who lost from their seats, David Urban said that Republicans had followed the former president "off the side of a cliff," as per The New York Times.
Meanwhile, Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini termed Trump as a "wounded animal" following the polls, according to BBC.
Trump's favourite news channel Fox News also admitted that the midterm results were the ex-president's most vulnerable moment since the Capitol Hill riots in 2021.
However, there were some who said that it would be a mistake to underestimate the mass appeal of the firebrand leader.
"Somebody who seeks to replace Trump atop the Republican Party cannot pretend Trump is not there. Trump is a huge personality, who makes every contest a battle of personalities," said one such expert, David Frum – a former official in the George W Bush administration.
"Refusing to engage is not an option, because he (Trump) will engage whether his target likes it or not. There's no choice except to engage back," he added, according to The Atlantic.
(With inputs from BBC, The New York Times and The Atlantic.)
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