That "blue wave" that critics of President Trump have been hoping will wash over him in the midterm congressional elections him may not be a likely thing after all.
Last Tuesday's Republican Senate primaries in West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana offered no assurance that anti-Trump voters, including many in his own party, will rise up in November to rid themselves of the president's backers in Congress.
In all three states, Republican candidates supporting Mr. Trump prevailed. The one senatorial candidate who ran without his backing lost, mostly because he was toxic in his state of West Virginia as a former coal executive convicted in an accident in which 29 miners were killed.
Don Blankenship, also accused of making racial slurs, lost badly, running third behind state Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and Rep. Evan Jenkins. The baggage Mr. Blankenship carried raised serious doubts that he could unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin next fall in a state Mr. Trump won by 42 percent in 2016.
The West Virginia race is considered a key target in the Democratic quest to erase a two- seat deficit in the U.S. Senate and take control of the body. The Democrats have a higher climb of 22 seats in the House of Representatives, where any impeachment of Mr. Trump would be initiated.
The president, while calling on Twitter for strong support from his base for all other Republican candidates, took note regarding Mr. Blankenship of how the earlier candidacy of another tarnished Republican, Roy Moore in Alabama, an accused abuser of young girls, cost the party that Senate seat.
In any event, anti-Trump voters in both parties have been depending heavily on such a "blue wave" of voter disfavor, rising in many cases to revulsion toward Donald Trump. They look to that phenomenon to rescue the country from the chaos of a president who appears to rule by caprice and whim.
In recent months, many gripes from Democratic and some Republican critics have stemmed from domestic mismanagement in a White House in confusion and disarray. Now, however, Mr. Trump's increased engagement in foreign affairs, with a new aggressive team of firebrand John Bolton as national security adviser and former CIA director and congressman Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, has brought a major shift.
Mr. Trump has benefited in public opinion from tentatively favorable outcomes of his willingness to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, and now the release of three long-held American prisoners.
At the same time, however, the president's decision to pull out of the multi-nation deal with Iran that has arrested its nuclear-weapons development program has badly shaken Western European allies in Britain, France and Germany. They fear new instability within the North Atlantic Alliance and worry that his action sends the wrong message to North Korea on the reliability of dealing with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump's tactics up to now — playing the tough-talking muscleman even to the point of ridiculing Mr. Kim and musing about walking out of the talks if he doesn't get what he wants — mirror his behavior toward the U.S. Congress, though it is controlled by his own party.
Yet that posturing seems to mollify his political base at home, as seen in this week's Republican primaries in the three Rust Belt states of West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana, where his policy of draining what he casts as the swamp in Washington continues to resonate.
Those election results have not confirmed the most optimistic expectations of Trump critics that salvation is not far off at the midterm ballot box in November. Rather, they seem more of a wake-up call to them: that much more political organizing remains ahead if they hope to rid themselves of Donald Trump.
Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is email@example.com.