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Trump-backed candidates in Michigan show mixed results

While several Trump endorsed candidates won their respective races, the big ticket candidates had a poor showing in Michigan on Election Day.

MICHIGAN, USA — After the dust settled on the 2022 Michigan midterm elections, candidates who earned the support of former President Donald J. Trump saw mixed results.

Trump endorsed ten candidates in Michigan, six of which won their races—all but one, heavily favored incumbents.

Republican incumbents Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, Lisa McClain, Tim Walberg and John Moolenaar were all endorsed by Trump and all won their US Congressional races by double-digit margins, most with a margin of over 20 points.

John James was the other Trump-endorsed winner, but he won by a very narrow margin of less than half a point, defeating Democrat Carl Marlinga in the newly drawn and highly competitive 10th Congressional District.

The Trump-supported candidates who were defeated on Election Day were highly contentious races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and one race for Michigan's 3rd Congressional District.

Republican candidate for governor Tudor Dixon earned Trump's endorsement late in the primary season, just a few days before the August primary. The last-minute endorsement is believed to have helped catapult her ahead of a crowded field of five candidates for governor to a comfortable victory.

Credit: Tudor Dixon Campaign

And while Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was polling to beat Dixon by double digits early on, that lead shrunk quickly to under five points by the November election.

Ultimately, Dixon would soundly lose the race to Whitmer by a margin of over 10 points.

Similar to Dixon's run, Republican candidate for Attorney General Matthew DePerno was down in the polls to Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel after the primary, but gained lots of ground putting the race in a dead heat on Election Day, many polls found.

DePerno was also easily defeated by his Democrat opponent Dana Nessel with a margin of 8 points.

The Republican candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo also received an endorsement from Trump very early on in the election cycle in September of 2021. Karamo quickly became a Trump favorite for perpetuating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

After the August primary, Karamo was polling poorly against Democratic incumbent Jocelyn Benson and continued to do so up to Election Day. Karamo would go on to lose to Benson in a landslide on Nov. 8.

Probably the biggest loss for a Trump-backed candidate in Michigan was for John Gibbs who was running for a Congressional seat in Michigan's newly drawn 3rd District.

Credit: WZZM

Gibbs, with the support of Trump, unseated sitting Republican Peter Meijer in the primary election. During the runup to the election, the Democrats also put money into the race in favor of Gibbs, hoping that he would be easier to defeat in November.

Their gambit paid off as Gibbs was soundly defeated by Democratic opponent Hillary Scholten in the midterms. The race between Scholten and Gibbs polled close until Election Day when Scholten racked up a 13-point victory over Gibbs.

For the most part, Trump was able to pick up some easy wins by supporting incumbent GOP candidates in districts that were solidly Republican. But when he picked candidates in more competitive races, his track record was not as good.

When choosing incumbent candidates, Trump backed five winners. But, when he chose candidates in closer races that weren't incumbents, he only picked one winner out of five.

What this means for Trump and Trump-backed candidates in Michigan, isn't exactly clear. It appears that Trump's endorsement is still worth something to many Michiganders, but maybe not as much as it used to be.

It is safe to say that among Republican voters, Trump's backing is enough to win primaries and carry a candidate to victory in non-competitive districts.

But at the same time, a Trump endorsement might have ended up hurting candidates in competitive races during the general election. Trump's candidates in statewide races in Michigan performed very poorly in the November election.

Proposal 3 and the Trump-endorsed candidate's stringent pro-life stances on abortion also hurt GOP chances in statewide races. The proposal was a rallying cry for the Democrats and likely resulted in more liberals heading to the polls on Election Day, hurting Republican candidates' chances in statewide races and races in competitive districts.

Here is a quick look at Trump-endorsed candidates and their results:

  • Lisa McClain - Won by 31% (Incumbent)
  • John Moolenaar - Won by 29% (Incumbent) 
  • Tim Walberg - Won by 28% (Incumbent) 
  • Jack Bergman - Won by 22% (Incumbent) 
  • Bill Huizenga - Won by 12% (Incumbent) 
  • John James - Won by 0.49%
  • Matthew DePerno - Lost by 8%
  • Tudor Dixon - Lost by 10.6%
  • John Gibbs - Lost by 13%
  • Kristina Karamo - Lost by 14%

Across the nation, Trump's influence was still seen in many races and states, racking up some significant victories, but also losing some key races. Overall, Trump's influence on the 2022 election was not as strong or positive for GOP candidates as first predicted.

The key takeaway from this election cycle, at least in Michigan, is that Trump's influence on general elections in the state isn't as pronounced as it has been in the past. But, in heavily Republican districts, he still can sway primary elections and help GOP candidates win general elections.

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