That’s the background. Then Vance ran a campaign in which — unlike Josh Mandel, his big rival — he spent less time personally appealing for Trump’s support and more time in the MAGA-extended universe of Steve Bannon’s show, Tucker Carlson’s show, various podcasts and so on that are all extremely right-wing and extremely Trumpy.
Politico had a really good piece about how the Trump endorsement came about. Not surprisingly, Trump didn’t respond well to Mandel and others begging for his endorsement, and he seems to have decided to endorse Vance because he watched the debates and thought that Vance looked the best on TV, which, as we know, is the most important thing for anything connected to Trump. That, and he saw Vance play golf and liked his swing. The entire future history of American politics may turn on whether Trump likes a Senate candidate’s golf swing.
Jane Coaston: Ohio’s political winds have shifted significantly. I do think it will be interesting to see how Vance attempts to get at a broader audience, if he even attempts to. That is going to be a bigger audience, and one accustomed to Ohio Republicans like Rob Portman or Steve Chabot, who are definitely more Ohioan. We’re Midwesterners! We tamp down our feelings with lasagna. But that’s not what Vance does. His kind of online anger and online ire — I am curious to see how that plays out when he’s having to make an appeal to, well, not my parents, but people like my parents.
Michelle Cottle: That’s one of the problems we’re looking at with America in a foul mood, though, right? Whether you think it’s because of the pandemic or inflation or whatever, Americans are sour, and when you are sour, you are spoiling for a fight and you are looking for someone to come and tell you: “You are right to be angry. This is not your fault. You have been taken advantage of, and I’m going to fix it for you.” Those are the headwinds that the Democrats are looking at.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: I’m going to wrap this up by asking for predictions, which I know everyone loves to do. This is mine: If politicians like J.D. Vance are elected into office in the fall, on the G.O.P. side, we’re going to have more of the strong culture-war G.O.P. presidential nominees in 2024, probably Trump or Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who are drawn to these divisive issues. The Democrats have had trouble countering those narratives.
What do you see coming down the line, in terms of our political landscape and what it might portend?
Michelle Cottle: Historical trends made it hard for the Democrats not to lose ground in this midterm. They have not had a break with the pandemic or inflation or anything like that. I think they’re going to have a rough midterm, and then going into 2024, if for some reason Trump does not run, I think DeSantis immediately moves to the head of line and we’re looking at somebody like that from the Republican side. There’s no real indication that the Republicans want to move away from Trumpism in the near future.