Trump Endorsees Had A Rough Night Yesterday. Don’t Read Too Much Into It

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Micah Allen Contributor
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One of the trademarks of Donald Trump’s tenure as the leader of the Republican party has been the power of his endorsement, but that took a rare hit last night.

Four of seven Trump-endorsed candidates won their primaries Tuesday, including Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert emerging victorious despite notching only 43.4% of the vote in her contest. The MAGA crowd endured an additional loss in the Utah governor primary, despite Trump not issuing a formal endorsement.

Considering that Trump notched one of his greatest victories to date last week, where it appears that his chosen candidate John McGuire has knocked off Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, this is particularly odd. How does Trump go from unseating a conservative stalwart with deep ties to his district to losing endorsements in three states on the same night?

The truth is that it has nothing to do with any kind of national trend and it is no signal that Trump is losing his grip on the GOP. Ground zero for these rare losses came in two specific western states, Colorado and Utah, whose demographics have not historically favored Trump and continued that trend last night. (RELATED: Supreme Court’s Final Rulings Poised To Transform The 2024 Election)

First comes Utah. Last night, John Curtis, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump for years, beat Trump-backed Salt Lake City Mayor Trent Staggs in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. “Pro-MAGA” Phil Lyman also dropped his primary to the Trump-critic incumbent governor Spencer Cox.

The western Republican stronghold has never been friendly to Trump during his tenure in politics. He lost the state’s Republican caucus overwhelmingly in 2016, finishing not only behind Ted Cruz, but John Kasich. Trump accrued only 14% support, as opposed to Kasich’s 16.8% and Cruz’s 69.2%.

This has largely been due to Trump’s relative struggles among Mormon voters. This conservative religious group would not generally consider choosing a Democrat in a general election, but they make their voices heard in Republican-only contests. (RELATED: New ‘Misleading Video’ Hoax Is Getting Out Of Control)

In July 2023, a poll found that the former president was disapproved of by over half of Mormons, including 40% with a “very unfavorable” view. This is a stark difference from other conservative religious groups. The same poll shows that 67% of “White Evangelical Protestants” hold a favorable view of Trump, heavily contrasting the 48% of Mormons who do so. Mormons make up 67.7% of Utah’s population, making them one of the most dominant voting blocs in any U.S. state.

This trend has shown up in general elections as well, with Utah being considered somewhat of a battleground state in 2016 following the introduction of Independent Mormon Evan McMullin to the race. Some thought that McMullin would be able to win the state, potentially deadlocking the electoral college.

McMullin’s attempt to play spoiler did not end in victory, but he gained 21.3% support in the state, a huge number for a third-party candidate. This forced Trump’s tally down to 45.1%, quite notable considering that it had voted for the Republican candidate in each of the previous four elections with 62.5% of the vote or more. Trump outpaced second-place Hillary Clinton by 20%, marking a thirty-point shift toward the Democrats from the 2012 election where Mormon Mitt Romney trounced Barack Obama by over 51%.

Trump also failed to meet these expectations in 2020, receiving only 58% of the vote. Utah also had the second-highest share of total third-party vote in the nation in 2020 trailing only Alaska, showing continued resistance to the former president. Nikki Haley also had a relatively strong showing in 2024, accruing 42.7% support in March’s primary.

It is also worth noting that Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah and Trump ally, defeated McMullin’s attempt at a spot in the upper chamber of Congress in 2022 by just 11.5%. The most recent Utah Senate election prior to that was a 2018 Mitt Romney victory in excess of 30%, another example of how Utahans have opposed Trump without defecting to the left.

Colorado is a similar example of a state whose Republican Party has never been friendly to Trump. Last night, Trump-backed Dave Willaims lost his primary by over thirty percent and A-List trump supporter Lauren Boebert failed to eclipse half the vote despite her victory.

Ted Cruz defeated Trump by nearly 73% at the state Republican convention in 2016, gaining almost every delegate the state had to offer. Colorado, while still overwhelmingly supporting Trump, also gave Nikki Haley one of the best performances of her 2024 run. She garnered roughly one-third of the votes in the March 5 primary.

Trump has also overseen Colorado’s trend from a classic battleground state to solidly Democrat on a general election scale. Three consecutive elections had seen Colorado decided by 2.5% or less prior to Hillary Clinton’s nearly 5% victory in 2016 and Joe Biden’s 13.5% landslide in 2020.

The last Republican to win a statewide contest there was former Senator Cory Gardner in 2014, the final national election before Trump’s political ascent began. Gardner lost his seat in 2020 to the state’s former governor John Hickenlooper. It is worth noting that despite Biden’s huge win in the state, Gardner lost by 9.3%.

There is a key demographic in Colorado that has plagued Trump since the day he set foot on the campaign trail: college-educated voters. Colorado was the top state in the nation in terms of educational attainment, according to the most recent census, U.S. News reported.

Trump’s inability to win over this classically Republican demographic has been one of his biggest electoral weaknesses. George W. Bush won these voters by six percent in 2004 and Mitt Romney won them by three percent in 2012 but Trump has lost them by five percent to Hillary Clinton and 12% to Joe Biden. This failure is crippling in a state like Colorado and will not bode well for him in primary or statewide elections.

Trump has electoral weaknesses like every other candidate in the history of politics. He fails to perform well with the Mormon and college-educated demographics. This hurt him and his cause last night in two states, but it means nothing for his endorsements nationally. In most places the Trump endorsement remains the GOP golden ticket and will continue to be sought after. It is just not infallible.