How Much Damage Will Trump And The Also-Rans Do To The GOP's Slim Hopes Of Holding The Senate Majority?
The Republican Party brand is now so damaged among key electoral groups-- you can start with rapidly growing/rapidly registering-to-vote Hispanic-Americans and high-propensity Asian-American voters-- that not only is it likely that whoever emerges as the party's nominee will be unable to cobble together a winning coalition in 2016 but it's likely that more and more Senate seats will fall outside the party's grasp. Sure, the Republican brand will still go over well in backward, overwhelmingly ignorant and white gerrymandered congressional districts, particularly in the former slave-holding states, but that will increasingly become all they can do.
Of course Republicans will never have a problem reelecting their candidates in places like TX-13 (north Texas-- Amarillo, Wichita Falls; R+32), TX-11 (West Texas-- Midland and Odessa; R+31), GA-09 (white, rural northeast Georgia-- Gainseville; R+30) and TX-08 (Huntsville, Crockett and Montgomery County; R+29). But this year all the bigotry and racism Trump has stirred up among the base in the presidential contest is giving the Republican Establishment nightmares in terms of the Senate races.
Keep in the back of your mind some of the results in the national polling PPP released yesterday. Not that Trump is at 29% and Jeb is at just 9%, or that former top-tier candidates Chris Christie and Rand Paul are now at, respectively, 2% and 1%, but that Trump's backers have listened to so much Hate Talk Radio and Fox News that most of them believe President Obama is a Muslim born in a foreign country-- and that Ted Cruz, who freely admits he was born in Calgary, was born in the U.S. These are profoundly ignorant people, driven by their own prejudices and bigotry and completely uninterested in reality other than reality TV.
Now let's think about the way Trump has energized the other candidates to do exactly what the RNC wants them not to do: go off on a racist and Know-Nothing tangent, which has alienated millions of voters and makes some of their own conclude that the party is just hopelessly lost. Remember, right now most of these goofballs are only thinking about appealing to the racist base to win the primary and not thinking about what happens when they need the votes of normal Americans for the general.
The Republican Party was hoping to hold onto GOP Senate seats in Florida and Illinois and capture blue seats currently held by a retiring senator (Harry Reid in Nevada) and an extremely weak incumbent (Michael Bennet in Colorado). The biggest share of Latino voters in the country are in these 10 states:
• New Mexico, 46.7%-- no 2016 raceIt's not likely that the Republican-lite New Dem Schumer recruited to run against McCain in Arizona, Ann Kirkpatrick, is going to win. Nor does it look likely that Republican Mark Kirk can possibly hold onto his seat in Illinois. Nevada, Florida and Colorado will all probably be much closer, but thanks to Trump and the cowards also in the running, all of them are slipping away from whatever grasp the Republicans had on them.
• California, 38.1%-- safe Democratic seat
• Texas, 38.1%-- no 2016 race
• Arizona, 30.1%
• Nevada, 27.1%
• Florida, 22.8%
• Colorado, 20.9%
• New Jersey, 18.1%-- no 2016 race
• New York, 18.0%-- safe Democratic seat
• Illinois, 16.1%
Obama took the Hispanic vote against Romney 60-39%, and that portion of the vote continues to grow. In 2012 it was 17%; by Election Day 2016 it will be 20%. The likely Democrat to face whichever lunatic the GOP runs-- probably teabagger Ron DeSantis or conservative David Jolly-- is Alan Grayson, who knows how to dish it out as well as Trump and already accused him of "subliminal racism." Last week on MSBNC he told Chris Hayes: "He’s thrown away the dog whistle. It used to be that you had to speak in metaphors in order to exhibit your racism. Now you can just come out and be racist."
Michael Bennet is a weak, wishy-washy centrist who generates almost no enthusiasm. But with Obama having won 75% of Hispanics to Romney's 23% and with the share of the voting population climbing from 14% in 2012 to 16% by 2016, Bennet has another advantage: Trump's impact on Colorado GOP politics. The party is a complete mess and has so far been unable to even recruit a plausible candidate to run. The NRCC's top recuits-- Rep. Mike Coffman, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and former gubernatorial candidate Mike Kopp-- turned them down one after the other. Instead, the party may be stuck with a choice between perennial candidates, small-time ex-mayors or Tea Party activists.
Hispanics in Nevada went for Obama over Romney 70-25%, and where they were 16% of the voting population in 2012, they will be 25% in 2016. Republican Joe Heck is giving up his House seat to run, and that's looking like a bad gamble right now.
So far, however, Heck has also been dragged into the Trump mud. At an appearance at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce last week, Heck said ending birthright citizenship "needs to be part of the discussion," even as he said, "I don’t talk about Donald."
Former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, the leading Democratic candidate to replace Reid (who is retiring), is Latina, and has taken to Facebook to slam Trump while implicating other Republicans:
"We’ve all heard Donald Trump’s awful comments about Mexican immigrants-- they’re so offensive that I won’t repeat them here. And as someone who would be the first Latina to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, I’m especially disgusted," she wrote in July. "But some extremist Republicans are actually defending Trump’s outrageous remarks! It’s baffling, and it’s flat-out wrong. That kind of hateful speech has no place in our politics."
The Senate Overview
Right now the GOP holds 54 seats to the Democrats' 44 (46 if you include New England independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King). Of the 34 seats that are up, 10 are held by Democrats and 24 are held by Republicans. The Democrats need to win 5 seats to take the majority. Their pathway to victory includes holding onto Colorado and Nevada while beating Republicans in 5 of these 7: Florida (Grayson), Illinois (Duckworth or Zopp), New Hampshire (Hassan), North Carolina (Ross or Miller), Ohio (Strickland or Sittenfeld), Pennsylvania (Sestak) and Wisconsin (Feingold).
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