FIRST ON FOX: Republicans are split on former President Trump’s effect on the lackluster 2022 midterm elections as control of Congress hangs in the balance and has not been projected yet.
For months, Tuesday’s midterm elections were predicted to be a red wave that would see Republicans take the House by wide margins and potentially capture the Senate.Two days after the election, Republicans are still projected to take control of the lower chamber — albeit by a much smaller margin than predicted — and could potentially control the upper chamber, should Nevada and Georgia go red.
However, Republicans are split on how Trump affected the midterm elections.New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who was once a Democrat before switching to the GOP, told Fox News Digital he believes the former president had a positive impact on the midterm elections.
“Trump helped out candidates in a lot of districts across the country. An overwhelming majority of his endorsements won,” Van Drew said. “Republicans are taking the majority, which was the goal in order for us to get America back on track.”
“Two years ago when Trump was in office, our country was much better off,” he continued. “We were #1 in everything, from energy to education, so I would be happy to have Trump return to office so we could return to the America we once were.”
Conversely, another House GOP lawmaker said that he believes Trump impacted the election and that Americans are trying to “get away from the drama” and back to business addressing the country’s “real needs.”
The anonymous GOP congressman also predicted Trump will face “other worthy candidates” for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“As one would expect, Trump certainly played a factor in the outcome of the midterm elections,” the Republican lawmaker said.
“As for 2024, there will be other worthy candidates who will put their names forward who may approach the conservative movement differently,” he continued.
“Trump’s tenure, whether deserved or not, has been marked by drama and controversy,” the congressman added. “I think it is the sentiment now of a large number of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, to get away from the drama and get back to the business of the country and it’s real needs: fighting inflation, combating crime, and getting control of the southern border.”
Republican staffers also weighed in on Trump’s effects on the midterms, with a Georgia GOP campaign staffer saying the former president should pack it up and let Florida Governor Ron DeSantis take the reins to “lead the red wave.”
“In order to truly make America great, it’s time for Trump to hang up his red hat and let DeSantis lead the red wave Trump failed to,” the staffer said.
A senior House GOP staffer told Fox News Digital the “truly instructive fact in contrast to how 45’s candidates performed was how [Republican Georgia Governor Brian] Kemp and DeSantis performed in contrast.”
“These are both governors that took some heat from the former president, but what really mattered in the end was the fact that they led with a freedom agenda and provided a constructive vision that actually worked for the people they served,” the senior House GOP staffer said.
“Trump was successful when his vision was about making America great again, not himself as a 2024 candidate,” the staffer continued. “At the end of the day, this business has to be about delivering results to the American people who want people to fight for them.”
So far, the majority of the former president’s endorsed candidates have won their races.
“There is a fake news narrative that I was furious — it is just the opposite,” Trump told Fox News Digital, responding to reports that suggested he was less than pleased with the election results for his endorsed candidates. “The people I endorsed did very well. I was batting 98.6% in the primaries, and 216 to 19 in the general election — that is amazing.”
He added: “All these guys that are winning are my people.”
Trump touted the wins of Sen. Chuck Grassley in Iowa, Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, Eric Schmitt in Missouri, JD Vance in Ohio, Ted Budd in North Carolina, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and others.
Democrats also had a hand in elevating several of the Trump-backed candidates by boosting them in their primary elections in the belief that the candidates would be easier to beat.
Overall, though, Republicans did not perform as well as predicted, spurring intra-party criticism, and control of Congress has not been projected yet.
Several key races have yet to be decided, but Republicans are expected to still take control of the House.
The Senate is another question, with three races still in the air to decide control of the upper chamber: Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.
A slog is expected for the Georgia Senate contest as the election officially moved into a runoff after neither candidate was able to get 50 percent of the vote.
The 45th president has teased for months that he will be making another run for the White House and is predicted to do so next week.
However, the school of thought that most Republicans will move out of the way in the wake of Trump’s expected announcement may not be as viable anymore.
Trump’s impact on the midterms may also spur prominent Republicans who are against running in light of the former president’s announcement to change their plans.
DeSantis’ name has been floated since Biden took office as a potential GOP nominee to take back the White House in 2024, especially after the sweeping Florida elections that serve as a bright spot for Republicans in an otherwise underwhelming midterm cycle.
If DeSantis decides to run for the White House in spite of his former political pedagogue’s candidacy, one can reasonably expect other GOP candidates will follow suit and bring a robust primary election ahead of 2024.
Still, most Republicans may move out of the way in the wake of Trump’s expected announcement, but there will likely be GOP challengers to the former president regardless in the primary.
Meanwhile, President Biden said he will make his decision on running for re-election “early next year.”
Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman contributed reporting.