That means that, along with the many loser candidates he endorsed, former President Donald Trump nearly cost Republicans the House with his impeachment revenge tour.
Republican Reps. Peter Meijer of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington voted to impeach Trump, and both ended up being run out of office during their primaries, thanks to Trump’s intervention. Meijer was defeated by Republican John Gibbs, who was a kooky conspiracy theorist even before Trump’s “stolen election” tantrums. Gibbs was also boosted by the Democratic Party, which felt he was more beatable than Meijer in a general election in a seat that was made bluer during redistricting.
The Democrats were right, and Republican primary voters took the bait. Gibbs went on to lose to Democrat Hillary Scholten by 13 percentage points in a seat that FiveThirtyEight determined had a partisan lean of just D+3. Meijer had run ahead of Trump in 2020, when he defeated Scholten by 6 points.
The loss of Herrera Beutler’s seat was even more egregious. According to FiveThirtyEight, Herrera Beutler’s seat had a partisan lean of R+11, meaning that even a poor Republican candidate should have been able to hold on to it this year. Republican primary voters cast Herrera Beutler out in the primary by 0.5 of a point, opting instead for 2020 election conspiracy theorist Joe Kent.
Kent went on to lose to his Democratic opponent by 1 point in a year where conditions were favorable to Republicans in a district that votes 11 points more Republican than the average district. It may just be the most impressive loss of the 2022 midterm elections.
Two seats may not seem like a big deal, but Republicans are only going to have a majority by the skin of their teeth. They would likely be in the minority, if not for unusually strong GOP performances in New York and California. And Trump could have been more emboldened to target more Republicans if his gambit had paid off.
California Rep. David Valadao also voted for impeachment, and he is the only Republican who can win in his D+10 district. Democrats even tried to boost a pro-Trump Republican over him in the district’s jungle primary, but they failed. Ballots in his race continue to be counted.
Trump cost Republicans the Senate by boosting terrible candidates crafted in his image. It nearly cost Republicans the House, between his impeachment revenge tour and the terrible governor and Senate candidates he endorsed, who dragged down the entire ticket and cost the party House seats in such states as Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Nearly everything Trump touched in this election cycle has died. At some point, Republican voters need to start prioritizing winning over soothing his bruised ego.