Retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) blamed former President Trump for Republicans losing the Pennsylvania Senate race and other close races this week, asserting there was “a high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses.”
Toomey, who twice won election in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2016, said Trump created political problems for Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, who tried to distance himself from the former president’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen through widespread fraud.
“President Trump had to insert himself and that changed the nature of the race and that created just too much of an obstacle,” Toomey said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
“And by the way, it’s not just Pennsylvania. You look all over the country, there’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses, or at least dramatically underperforming,” he added, referring to Trump’s slogan: Make America Great Again.
Toomey predicted that the poor performance of Trump-backed candidates, especially those who embraced his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, will “accelerate” the former president’s loss of influence in the party.
“So here’s my theory on the case, is that there is not going to be one discrete moment at which the fever breaks and Donald Trump becomes irrelevant. That’s not likely to happen. What I think is: his influence wanes,” Toomey said.
“And a debacle like we had Tuesday night, from a Republican point of view, accelerates the pace at which that influence wanes,” he said.
Toomey highlighted what he called “interesting data points” showing that Trump’s popularity in the party isn’t what it was even a year ago.
“A year or two ago, if you ask Republican voters — ‘Do they consider themselves more traditional Republicans or Donald Trump Republicans?’ — he had a huge lead. That has flipped. And that’s telling, I think. I think that’s going to continue.”
Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in February of 2021 on the impeachment charge that he incited the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Other prominent Republicans are also blaming Trump for their party’s disappointing performance on Election Day.
While Republicans are poised to capture control of the House and still have a chance to win the Senate, the red wave that many of them expected failed to form as Republican voters turned out to the polls in lower numbers than projected.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the GOP is suffering from a “Trump hangover.”
“I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket. I think Donald Trump gives us problems politically,” he told a local television reporter in Janesville, Wis.
“We lost the House, the Senate and the White House in two years when Trump was on the ballot, or in office,” he said. “I think we just have some Trump hangover. I think he’s a drag on our … races.”
Senate Republican strategists weren’t thrilled that Trump decided to hold a rally with Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano in Latrobe, Pa., the Saturday before Election Day.
One Senate Republican adviser warned before the event that it was “probably not” a good idea to appear on stage with Trump and Mastriano, an outspoken election denier and opponent of abortion rights, whom Democrats tried to tie to Oz.
But the adviser acknowledged it was almost impossible for Oz to spurn Trump’s invitation to appear at a rally after the former president’s endorsement helped him beat hedge fund CEO David McCormick in the tightly contested Senate GOP primary.
“What are you going to do?” the source lamented, knowing that Trump’s appearance with Oz didn’t present the best optic for swing voters right before going to the polls.
Mike Lillis contributed.