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Examining the impact of former President Trump on the Midterms

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Our correspondents Don Gonyea and Tamara Keith are still with us. And I want to continue this discussion of Donald Trump. We know that Trump said at least that he plans a big announcement later this month. He's not always the most reliable guide to his future actions, but he says he's planning a big announcement. It was presumed he might be announcing he's running for president using a big Republican election victory as a kind of springboard to jump in the air and head off in his presidential campaign. But Tam, it seems like the springboard broke.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, yeah, certainly, if you look at Trump-endorsed candidates or MAGA candidates running as proudly MAGA candidates - I'm looking at a race that I covered in the runup to the election, North Carolina 13, where the Trump-endorsed candidate - he emerged from a crowded primary field. Trump really pushed him over the line. He called himself a MAGA warrior, and he lost to a Democrat. And there are a number of these sorts of races up and down the ballot, which is an indication that Trumpism doesn't necessarily work without Trump. And the question, though, then becomes, you know, is there an alternative? And that has been the question since 2015, and the answer has always been not really.

INSKEEP: Don, I suppose we should note there are places where Trumpism seemed to work. J.D. Vance, a former critic of former President Trump, changed into an acolyte of former President Trump and seems to have won relatively easily in Ohio against a tough challenger, Tim Ryan.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: We've stopped seeing Ohio as a bellwether, and I think we can officially put that to bed, especially after this one. Trump has won it twice, last time by 8 points. That was about what J.D. Vance won by. And look, Tim Ryan ran a fine campaign and worked those rural parts of the state and had a message for working-class voters about trade and talked about how often he was willing to disagree with the Democratic Party on some of those issues. But ultimately, it did not really move the needle in terms of where the baseline seems to be in a place like Ohio.

INSKEEP: And I suppose we should note there are people who reject the results of the 2020 election who became secretary of state, but that seems to have happened in places like Indiana and Wyoming that aren't likely to be big swing states in 2024.

GONYEA: That's right. It's a different picture in battleground states, like right next door in Pennsylvania.

INSKEEP: OK. That's Don Gonyea and Tamara Keith. They will stay with us for some time as we continue to bring in the latest election results. Many things are still up in the air. The House and Senate still up for grabs - Republicans favored to capture at least one, but neither is decided. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.