The Democratic wins in the Georgia Senate runoffs this week ensured President Donald Trump’s place in electoral history. While much has been written about Trump’s ability to pull off electoral victories in spite of conventional wisdom, the actual record shows something considerably different.
The Trump-led Republican Party suffered historic losses on the federal level in a short four-year span that has rarely, if ever, been duplicated in modern American history.
Let’s start with the basic fact that the Republican Party will no longer control the White House, Senate or House of Representatives when President-elect Joe Biden takes his oath of office. This is a sharp reversal from when Trump entered the White House in 2017. Back then, it was the Republicans who controlled all three.
Indeed, there’s really only one other historic parallel since senators were popularly elected: Herbert Hoover nearly 90 years ago. Hoover’s presidency suffered through the beginnings of the Great Depression.
Beyond Hoover, no president in the modern era managed to oversee his party losing control of three elected parts of the federal government over his first term in office.
What’s more amazing is that Trump entered the White House with a Democratic predecessor. Hoover, on the other hand, was preceded by another Republican in office. Often, presidents who are preceded by a president of the same party find it more difficult to win reelection. Trump, unlike Hoover, doesn’t have that excuse.
You have to go all the way to when senators were not popularly elected (before the 17th Amendment) to find any examples of what Trump managed to do, and they are rare at that.
The GOP’s down ballot problems can be linked directly to Trump. Republican Senate candidates lost every state Trump lost in 2020, except Maine. The same holds true when comparing the 2018 Senate and 2020 presidential results as well. And Republican Senate candidates lost every state Trump lost in 2016, as well.
For Republicans who thought they could escape Trump’s unpopularity, it just didn’t happen.
Indeed, while many may find it hard to believe that a president like Trump remained popular enough to get 74 million votes, his record facing the voters suggests otherwise.
He managed to squeeze by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, while losing the popular vote in 2016.
This time, he lost the popular vote again to Biden – and the Electoral College, too. Beyond being the rare president to lose reelection (and the even rarer president to lose the White House for his party after just one term), losing the popular vote twice is quite unusual for a president.
Trump was the first elected president since Benjamin Harrison in the late 19th century to pull that feat off. John Quincy Adams in the 1820s was the other to be elected president and lose the popular vote twice on a major party ticket.
The bottom line is Trump is no electoral savant. He is a historic loser.