Following the assault of the Capitol on January 6, many Republicans became increasingly critical of Trump. He has not, however, lost authority in the party.

[Donald Trump/Capitol Hill]

To put it mildly, Joe Biden's year 2021 will conclude in dissatisfaction. The US president is plagued by a large recurrence of corona infections, rising inflation, a potentially deadly setback to his ambitious social and climate protection agenda, and correspondingly dismal poll ratings.

The opposition Republicans are ecstatic - and have a positive outlook for the new year: In the November 2022 midterm congressional elections, ex-President Donald Trump's party has a decent chance of regaining control of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Conservatives, too, are confronted with tough choices. The most pressing issue is how to deal with Trump: the right-wing populist, who was defeated in November 2020, fled the White House in disgrace and dishonor following the Capitol storming on January 6th.

Trump was able to reassert his control over the Republicans once more

However, in the months that followed, the 75-year-old, who was still highly popular and occasionally venerated by the conservative base, was able to re-establish his control over the party.

Everyone now agrees that anyone who wants to be politically successful with the Republicans needs Trump's support, who lives like a king in his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.

"Despite losing his social media megaphone, his backing for politicians continues to rally grassroots supporters, pump up campaign money, and, in certain circumstances, knock rivals out of the way," policy advisor Tommy Goodwin said.

A public expression of support by the very contentious ex-president, on the other hand, has dangers. According to political scientist Sam Nelson, it is useful in Republican primaries but can be detrimental in the general election. "It drives Democrats to vote against Trump's favored nominee."

In the early November governor election in Virginia, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, who assiduously avoided Trump during the campaign, won a remarkable win.

In the state's 2020 presidential election, he performed much better than Trump, particularly among independent voters and women.

The suburbs might decide the midterm congressional elections

The so-called midterm elections in Congress next autumn might also be determined in the suburbs, where Trump is far less popular than in rural regions. Many Republican strategists believe that the key for triumph is to implement a Trump-style program while keeping the ex-president out of it as much as possible without disturbing him. So there's Trumpism without Trump.

But it's easier said than done. The real estate billionaire, who has been labeled a narcissist and is considering a presidential run in 2024, is known to value nothing if he is not the center of attention.

"Donald Trump is exactly where he wants to be: the focus of attention," says communication scientist Peter Loge. "He's like a weeping youngster in a crowded grocery store sweets aisle, pleading for more lemonade and hurling candy bars at other kids."

Trump is still concerned about his electoral setback to Biden

It's just "tough to conceive that he takes back, so that others can have their moment in the spotlight." Especially when Trump is still reeling from his crushing electoral setback to Biden.

He frequently distributes the oft-disproven allegation that he was denied a second term due to major electoral fraud. On the first anniversary of the January 6th assault of the Capitol, during which hundreds of his followers attempted to prevent Biden's election victory from being confirmed, he has arranged a news conference centered on his charges of fraud.

Republicans are concerned that their focus on the 2020 elections may weaken the party. "We have to speak on the future, not the past," remarked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently.

The outcome of the 2022 elections might help establish if – and to what degree – Trump is the Republican Party's future leader. And whether the former president is indeed attempting to reclaim the White House in 2024.
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