President Trump got out and cashed in. A minority in the House is a small price to pay- and might as well be beneficial to his rhetoric and tone as he gears up for re-election.
As Trump rallied in many swing and red states, it was all about him. He was successful in filling arenas and stadiums but moreover he got exactly what he needed: a vindication and an embrace to officially lead the Republican party.
Trump rallied with Governors, Senators, Representatives and many candidates who sought after his endorsement. He was glad to endorse and rally for them just to get out to the field and keep his brand. If TRUMP was his brand in the prior election- now it is the POTUS seal right beneath him on the podium. His rallies were all about him. The candidates hitched on and were secondary. Trump was absolutely on the ballot as he stated and was able to re-enforce his messaging using those exact candidates who all they wanted is a good optic with the President.
The moment these republican candidates ride solely on his coattails- is a moment of victory for the President. These rallies, and later- results in the Senate and Governorships made one message clear: Trump in not toxic or alienated within his party- and the “Never Trump” movement is dead as can be. Trump won these elections because he established himself finally as the mainstream of the Republican Party.
Presidential coattails are an indication for his popularity and approval. With his numbers going up at approximately 40%, the President can create and resonate and image where he can soundly defeat a Democratic challenger. The examples for his reach within GOP candidates are best seen in the Senate, where he was able to enlarge his majority. For example, Senator-Elect Josh Hawley from Missouri who is its Attorney General- was reluctant as a former clerk to Chief Justice Roberts to go on “Trump mode” during the campaign and use his tone. The President campaigned for him and was mentioned and thanked by the Senator-elect countlessly. As a conservative and a rising star within the party- he was able to see that the wind is blowing with Trump and that either you’re with him or not, even if he couldn’t personally connect to his harsh tone. Thus, he was able to capture the seat and flip it, beating Senator Claire McCaskill.
The only almost never-Trump GOP candidate who was successful is Mitt Romney in Utah, who is the last who needs and will ask for the President’s support. Senator-elect Romney’s victory and special circumstances are immune to the President. An example for the complete opposite comes from Texas, where Senator Cruz longed for the President’s endorsement and all but practically humiliated himself while campaigning with him at a Trump rally. Cruz went the extra mile to praise the President, his policies and semi-accomplishments. Cruz, a conservative popular fire-band welcomed Trump with open arms and gave him a strong vindication into the right-shifted, conservative establishment.
In the House of Representatives, the Republican minority might present itself as an opportunity to the President. He can most certainly make lemonade from two years of a Pelosi speakership, especially if she goes after him and suffocates his legislative agenda. During his midterm rallies, Trump’s rhetoric towards Pelosi came to harsh levels of incitement- working up his crowd even more. In many ways- a Democratic and liberal agenda is just the fuel the President needs and benefits from as he campaigns in the only way he knows how to: blame and enrage.
This is important because many GOP congressional candidates tried to pair the Democratic opponent as a Pelosi proxy, countlessly mentioning her on the trail as the one they are running against. This message did not resonate as much with the example of the Tea Party David Bratt losing his seat in Virginia’s 7th district after mentioning Pelosi countlessly during the debate against his opponent who defeated him- that stated she would not support Pelosi for the speakership. The vilification of Pelosi was mainly successful in having Democrats from the left and the right both vowing not to support her second attempt for the gavel.
Nancy Pelosi, if re-elected speaker, can choose two ways: go after Trump, rallying the liberal base yet be unprecedentedly demonized, or work with the President, aggravating the base and launching battles inside the party mainly from progressive 2020 Presidential candidates. Pelosi, a power-bank within the party must be able to navigate first within the Democratic caucus and at the same level voice their main opposition to the President while negotiating or battling his legislative priorities and agenda. It’s a significant strategic choice she must make if elected with grave implications towards 2020.
In the final analysis for Trump, these elections were not a setback but rather an opening shot for the 2020 race which can be much nastier, vulgar and polarizing than 2016. The midterms indeed showed that there are two Americas and one Trump. All the Democrats need in 2020 is one of their own. Only a Trump can beat a Trump.