Written by Nadia Innab

After a stunning record for former president Donald Trump’s endorsements in the primaries, his endorsed candidates were under a microscope during the 2022 general election. We continued to track spending and results for Trump’s selected candidates during the general election and found that his strong record seemed to continue during the general. Out of the 156 Trump-endorsed candidates who advanced to the general election, 130 won in November.

In total, we saw over $218M in spending from 106 Trump-endorsed candidates across 40 states during the general election. Texas saw the most spending from Trump endorsements, which was true in the primaries as well. Greg Abbott (R) made up for $52M of the state’s total $54M in spending from Trump-endorsed campaigns. The state with the most Trump-endorsed candidates spending on advertisements was Ohio, with eleven endorsements.

A map of the United States that shows total Trump-endorsed candidate spending by state.

Notably, the majority of his endorsements occurred in races that were almost a sure win for Republicans. 107 (almost 70 percent) of Trump’s endorsements were running in races listed as “Solid Republican” in Cook Political Report, and 18 others were either “Lean Republican,” or “Likely Republican.” Just 18 races in which Trump endorsed a candidate were predicted to go to a Democrat by Cook Political Report. Of the 13 tossup races, Trump’s endorsements won just two. However, three races categorized as “Solid D” were flipped in favor of Republicans.

A visual showing how many Trump-endorsed candidate won vs their race's Cook Political Report race rating

Eighty-one of the 106 Trump endorsements who spent on ads during the general election won their election. Trump endorsements spent $73M in the 26 elections that Republicans ended up losing, and $146M across the 81 elections that they won.

Two pie chart visuals showing Trump-endorsed candidates' total spending and their election results

While over 75 percent of Trump’s endorsed candidates won in their general elections, the ad spending numbers did not necessarily correlate to whether the candidates won. Of the top five highest spending Trump endorsements, just two of them won their election. In eight of the 20 elections with the highest spending Trump endorsement, the Democratic candidate won the November election. Greg Abbott (R) had the highest spending Trump-endorsed campaign, with $52M, and won the general election against Beto O’Rourke (D) by over ten points. The next three highest Trump-endorsed campaigns each spent over $9M, but all ended up losing their respective elections.

Ad content differed from the primary election cycle. Trump-endorsed advertisers did not boast their endorsement through their ads as they did in the primaries. Just 16 advertisers mentioned Trump in their broadcast ads during the general election.

AZ Follow-Up

After sweeping the primaries in Arizona, Trump’s candidates did not fare as well in the general election. Just two of Trump’s endorsements won in Arizona. In all six elections, the Democrat far outspent the Republican candidate, and Democrats pulled off wins in two-thirds of the races in which Trump endorsed a candidate. In a battleground state such as Arizona, moderate Republicans may have fared better against the Democrats. Democrat advertisers even pushed for Trump-endorsed Kari Lake to win in the gubernatorial primary, because they believed a Democrat would have a better chance of beating an extreme Republican. 

In two of the Arizona races that Trump had endorsed the Republican candidate, that candidate won the general election. In AZ CD-01 and AZ CD-02, the Republican candidate spent less than $100K, as the Democratic candidates spent $1.4M and $3.5M respectively. Both of these races had a slight Republican lean, according to Cook Political Report.

Trump’s endorsed candidates tended to be extreme Republicans, who did not fare as well in the general election in Arizona. Democrats even spent on ads to boost far-right Republicans in primaries across the country to give their candidates a better shot in the general. For more information, check out our blog post on Democrats spending money to support far-right candidates in the primaries here.

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