Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Its time to move on: have the US midterms finally loosened Trumps grip on the Republican party?

Its time to move on: have the US midterms finally loosened Trumps grip on the Republican party?


Its time to move on: have the US midterms finally loosened Trumps grip on the Republican party?

Sitting at the head table in a white and gold ballroom, beneath glistening chandeliers and an ornately corniced ceiling, Donald Trump looked sullen as midterm election results flashed up on a giant TV screen.

Across Florida, 200 miles from his opulent Mar-a-Lago estate, the mood was quite different. In Tampa, Governor Ron DeSantis was celebrating his landslide re-election by repurposing lines from Winston Churchill.

"We fight the woke in the legislature," DeSantis declared as his photogenic young family looked on against a stars and stripes backdrop. "We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die."

As the jubilant crowd chanted "two more years!", suggesting that DeSantis, not Trump, should run for US president in 2024, was this the moment that power slipped inexorably from one to the other - that the Republican crown passed from old king to young pretender?

Some in the party are ready to declare it so. David Urban, a longtime Trump ally, told the Washington Post: "It is clear the center of gravity of the Republican party is in the state of Florida, and I don't mean Mar-a-Lago."

If such a shift has taken place, it did so gradually, then suddenly. Since he descended an escalator at his New York headquarters in June 2015, Trump has dominated and defined the Republican party, crushing rivals in the Republican primary then eking out a victory over Hillary Clinton to seize the White House.

But the party of Trump suffered drubbings at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020. And despite forecasts of a "red wave" in 2022, it fell short again. From Michigan to Pennsylvania, novice candidates endorsed by the former president proved they were unready for prime time and too extreme for a wary and weary electorate.

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