For years, former President Donald Trump's near-universal adoration among the Republican voting base led Republican lawmakers who once criticized him to reverse course and become some of his most valiant defenders in a bid to win his approval.
As recently as last week, Trump once again credited his endorsement as a game changer for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who won reelection last year, and whom Trump now despises.
"He was losing his election—I'll tell you, Kentucky is a great place, they love me, I love them. And I was way up and he was losing by two points and he said, 'Sir, I'd like to see you.' Comes over, 'Would you give me a big endorsement and could you do a television commercial?' And I didn't love the idea, because I'm not too high on him, but it was between him or a woman named Amy McGrath. ... He was gonna get blown away, and I endorsed him and he went up 20 points."
Last December, Trump praised his endorsement of a Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate on his now-defunct Twitter:
"Two years ago, the great people of Wisconsin asked me to endorse a man named Brian Hagedorn for State Supreme Court Justice, when he was getting destroyed in the Polls against a tough Democrat Candidate who had no chance of losing. After my endorsement, Hagedorn easily won!"
And that March, he wrote:
"[House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy informed me that I was 20 for 20 on Tuesday with respect to my Endorsement of candidates. Sadly, I didn't get that information from the Fake News Media. They don't report those things, or the far more than Dems cumulative votes, despite no opposition!"
These were just a few of the times Trump heaped praise on the power of his endorsement, but the data has never consistently reflected that Trump's endorsement means a surefire victory.
That hard truth just materialized with the results of the special Congressional election in Texas's Sixth District to replace its Congressman, Ronald Wright, who died earlier this year due to COVID-19 complications. After a crowded jungle primary back in May, the race was between two Republican candidates: Wright's widow, Susan Wright and Texas state Representative Jake Ellzey.
Trump issued numerous endorsements for Wright, including a lengthy phone interview at a tele-rally the night before the election.
But when the election came to pass, Ellzey defeated Wright by over six points.
Trump, attempting to quell concerns that his kingmaker status may be wearing off, scrambled to paint the loss as a win, citing Ellzey's own pro-Trump agenda to Axios:
"[T]his is not a loss, again, I don't want to claim it is a loss, this was a win. …The big thing is, we had two very good people running that were both Republicans. That was the win."
Trump's attempt to spin didn't go over well.
Some think Trump's endorsement may be losing its luster.
Just one day after the TX-06 special election—on Wednesday—Trump suffered another display of growing Republican mutiny. Though he issued a warning that he'd endorse the primary opponents of any Republican Senators who voted to advance the Biden administration's bipartisan infrastructure bill, 17 Republicans joined every Democratic Senator, allowing the bill to advance to debate.
Trump railed against those 17 Republicans in yet another rambling statement.