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US politics

The real winner of America’s midterms

President in waiting? DeSantis at his victory party. Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty

The Republicans’ disappointing showing in this week’s midterms was very much Donald Trump’s fault, says David Frum in The Atlantic. The former president pushed his party to nominate “weirdos and crackpots” like the supposedly pro-life Herschel Walker, who allegedly funded his ex-girlfriend’s abortion. Trump’s focus on the wrong issues, in particular his petulant obsession with voter fraud in the 2020 election, robbed GOP candidates of the chance to “talk about the future”. But no one should be surprised. Since his shock victory in 2016, Trump has “led his party from loss to loss”: the House in 2018, the presidency in 2020 and the Senate in 2021. By handing him his most spectacular defeat yet, voters have shown they are “sick” of his antics.

There’s one real winner in all this, says Ross Douthat in The New York Times: Ron DeSantis, who was re-elected as Florida governor with a landslide 20-point victory. To many Republicans, this proves he’s the right choice for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. DeSantis offers all the popular, woke-bashing policies of Trumpism: he does battle with the “liberal media”, and financially punished Disney for criticising his “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which banned youngsters from learning about homosexuality in Florida’s schools. But he does so without being “erratic and polarising” – he’s “competent, calculating”, and understands the allure of a statesmanlike image. DeSantis is the party’s best hope of galvanising the centre-right majority that Trump “kept promising was just around the corner”.

🍊🤯 Trump is “furious” with his advisors – and even his wife Melania – for getting him to endorse dud candidates, says The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman on Twitter. Some in his circle are now pushing him to postpone his 2024 presidential campaign launch next week; others think that would be “acknowledging” he has been wounded by the midterm results.