Even though he’s no longer in office, former President Donald Trump has still had an impact on the midterm elections, fueling Democratic hopes that they could make this election a choice between President Joe Biden and Trump’s GOP.
The former president has played an outsized role in helping pick his party’s nominees in major battlegrounds, wielded his political power in 77 primaries considered competitive by the NBC News Political Unit. Sixty of them won their primaries.
Trump has backed many candidates who echo his false claims about the 2020 election, with more than 70% of his preferred candidates denying or questioning the 2020 results.
And though his endorsement is still powerful in GOP primaries, Trump has remained unpopular since leaving office. In October’s NBC News poll, 34% of voters said they had positive feelings about Trump, while 55% said they viewed Trump negatively.
NBC News polling has also found that an increasing share of Republicans identify more as supporters of the party than Trump, but for a brief decline after the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Just 33% say they are primarily a Trump supporter while 59% call themselves a supporter of the Republican Party first.
Until late in the election cycle, Trump had been mostly unwilling to dip into his massive war chest to help his candidates. His PAC, Save America, has transferred a few million dollars to super PACs that have played in some primaries and to some of his preferred candidates, but he was not throwing his largess around.
In late September, close Trump allies launched MAGA Inc., a new super PAC, that began running ads in midterm races. So far, the group is running spots in Senate races in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Georgia and Arizona, per AdImpact. The group has also launched ads in Michigan’s governor and attorney general races. Trump’s Save America seeded MAGA Inc. with at least $20 million, and the group has also raised more from other donors.
For more on Trump’s impact and other dynamics driving the midterm elections, check out the NBC News Political Unit’s Election Book.