How did Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear win reelection yesterday in a state that Trump won in 2020 by eight percent? The immediate answer is abortion. As Republicans nationally have taken credit for overturning Roe v. Wade, women, many of them Republicans, have said “not so fast.” Yesterday’s Democratic wins, which include approval of a referendum in Ohio protecting the right to choose and Virginia Governor and once-presidential hopeful Glenn Youngkin being denied Republican control of the Virginia House of Delegates and loss of control of the state’s Senate, means more. Proof is not yet available, but some votes that Republicans lost yesterday were 2020 Trump voters rejecting Trump and Trumpism.
Abortion has proven to be the potent issue for Democrats that many predicted when the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June 2022. Women are not keen on the likes of Donald Trump and his hand-picked Supreme Court justices telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. But I also sense a turning point on Trump himself. Even election-denying Trumpers are shaking their head as Trump’s business empire crumbles in a New York courtroom. Even Republicans that want to believe that Trump and his family did not engage in rampant fraud are disgusted by Trump calling prosecutors racists, lunatics, and deranged.
The New York civil case is likely to strip Trump of a key component of his psyche—that he is better and smarter than everybody because he is a self-calculated billionaire. Trump without his money and power is nothing more than a narcissistic loser. My guess is that will not play well among the Trump flock.
It is too early to reach conclusions about the 2023 Democratic election wins other than abortion is a losing issue for the GOP. But it is not too early to hope that yesterday’s GOP defeats will embolden Joe Biden and Trump’s Republican challengers to become bolder in attacking Trump.
Tonight, five Republicans, Haley, DeSantis, Christie, Scott, and uber-MAGA blowhard Vivek Ramaswamy, are debating in Miami. Don’t expect Ramaswamy to do anything other than to defend Trump, who Ramaswamy has promised to pardon if elected president. But will anyone other than Christie call out Trump for what he is—a would-be despot running on a platform of lies, hate, and fear?
If Biden persists in running for reelection, which appears increasingly likely, he needs to take on Trump more directly. It will not be easy. Trump has led himself into a corner where he now resembles a cornered rat. He will spit, kick, show his teeth, and yell in the hopes that Biden will cower, and Republicans will believe that he can still win. We should watch Biden closely to see if his campaign posture changes in light of yesterday’s elections.
The GOP itself is close to hopeless despite polls showing Biden to be unpopular because of his age. Until recently, Republicans have not spent much time thinking about who they support for president: A man facing 91 felony counts, including trying to retain the presidency through violence. If Trump continues to stumble, both legally and psychologically, Republicans may wake up and realize that they supported the wrong guy for too long. Unfortunately for the GOP but fortunately for the rest of us, it will be too late.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and other subjects.