An NFL coach who guided his team to a 10-7 regular-season record would be considered reasonably successful but hardly dominant over rivals.

Former President Donald Trump's GOP candidate endorsement record so far this primary season offers a rough political equivalent. Trump has had some notable wins, but also a set of conspicuous losses, with one high-profile contest, the Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary, in overtime amid a recount between Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz and ex-hedge fund executive David McCormick.

The former president has made a slew of candidate endorsements in the 2022 midterm election cycle as he considers a 2024 White House comeback bid after losing to President Joe Biden despite false claims of a rigged or stolen election. Determining Trump's real win-loss record is a matter of more art than science since the former president has tried to run up the score by endorsing safe incumbent lawmakers who would have won their primaries easily whether he was involved or not.

Trump has made over 180 endorsements in congressional and statewide races, staking his political influence in dozens of states before a contentious midterm election cycle in which House Republicans are expected to win the majority and the battle for Senate control is about even money between the parties. However, his majority success rate so far (about 68.4% among nonincumbents) is mostly due to a large number of endorsements in fairly safe elections, shifting the focus to the high-profile races that have split Republicans.


“A lot of the people he endorsed were not really competitive races, so that allowed him to run up the score and say, ‘Well, I got 97% of the candidates and lost one,’” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “But I think in the last analysis, he’s going to be judged on the high-profile endorsements he has made. I think people are trying to measure his ongoing hold on the Republican primary voters, and it’s going to be the endorsements in the statewide high-profile races.”

The former president had succeeded in turning the tide of some races, such as J.D. Vance’s victory in Ohio's Republican Senate primary earlier this month. The author was trailing in the polls at the time of Trump’s endorsement, prompting several to criticize the move as a gamble. However, Vance quickly surged after Trump offered his support, showing the hold the former president has on the state.

Trump was also clearly a factor in helping Rep. Alex Mooney beat a fellow West Virginia House member, Rep. David McKinley, in the Mountain State's 2nd Congressional District GOP primary on May 10. The House colleagues had been thrown in together into the same district after West Virginia lost one of its current three seats due to population decline over the decade preceding the 2020 Census.

Trump gets less credit for backing the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, because he did so only days before the primary election. But it's a notable endorsement, as Mastriano has touted false claims about the 2020 election and attended the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

But other high-profile endorsements fell flat, particularly those in Georgia on Tuesday, where voters handed the former president some big losses. Most prominent was former Sen. David Perdue, who ran against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp for the GOP nomination, handing Trump his biggest electoral setback since his own defeat two years ago. Trump also endorsed Rep. Jody Hice in his bid to unseat Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, as the former president made it his focus to punish the two Georgia incumbents for certifying the results in 2020 and dismissing claims that the election was stolen.

Trump’s bad beat in those races wasn’t entirely surprising, some experts say — rather, they may indicate a rift in what Republicans in different states are looking for in their candidates.

“I think the races where the candidates are competing over who is the Trumpiest, an endorsement from Trump is clearly clarifying for voters,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. “I think in other races, say like Georgia … with the governor’s race between Perdue and Kemp, this is not a competition over who’s Trumpiest. I think in Georgia, Trump matters a lot less in a race like that.”

For others, his support wasn’t enough to erase unpopularity. In Nebraska, Trump-backed Charles Herbster, a Republican candidate running for governor amid several accusations of sexual assault, lost his bid to Jim Pillen — a University of Nebraska regent who won with 33.7% of the vote.


Notably, the former president avoided sticking out his neck in races that didn’t have a clear path to victory, including the race for governor in Ohio, where incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine clinched the nomination with 48.1% of the vote.

But even with his majority-success rate thus far, Republicans are beginning to look forward to November and question how much of a grip they expect Trump to hold in the general election. With the control of Congress in the balance, some experts say they expect Republican incumbents to back away from Trump despite his hyperactivity, which is considered somewhat unusual for a former president.

“I think we should not expect to see President Trump campaigning for very many statewide races in November,” Conant said. “I don’t think Republicans will want him campaigning in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and other states like Arizona that he lost in 2020.”