Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The GOP Has Decided To Gamble Their Senate Majority With A Big Bet On Señor Trumpanzee


The first Republican candidate that Trump really got behind in a big way-- an actual test of his coattails vs his toxicity-- was Renee Ellmers in North Carolina's second congressional district. Ellmers was the first woman in Congress to back Trump and he reciprocated with an ad when she was challenged in a primary by George Holding and Greg Brannon. It was the very first indication that Trump's support is a kiss of death. Although Trump won NC-02 (a mostly suburban district that surrounds Raleigh on the north, east and south and has a PVI of R+7) 53.2% to 43.6%, Ellmers was absolutely crushed in the primary. She was the Trump candidate and just barely held onto second place against an outright and completely insane neo-fascist. Republicans apparently haven't paid close enough attention to the stunning results that demonstrate exactly what Trump can-- and will-- do for them:
George Holding- 53.38%
Renee Ellmers- 23.64%
Greg Brannon- 22.99%
Since then, almost every candidate Trump has actively campaigned for has lost, some in purple constituencies like Virginia, but some in impossibly red constituencies like Alabama and PA-18. In fact, Trump's toxicity has been largely responsible for a 20 point swing towards the Democrats in special elections across the country. Int augurs poorly for Republicans in November. Yet, McConnell and the NRSC are gambling the Senate majority on the hope that Trump can motivate the Republican base and close the enthusiasm gap with the Democrats without pissing off independents enough to swing the midterms in red states to the Democrats. The plan is all they've got and it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Politico's Burgess Everett and Kevin Robillard reported Monday that despite his national approval ratings, Trump can be carefully deployed in a few places where he isn't as toxic and he is nationally. Their bet is counter-intuitive and recognizes that Trump will cost Republicans the House. "Senate Republicans," they wrote, "say the president will play a starring role in the closely contested campaigns that will decide control of the chamber. Trump will be front and center in every state that helped elect the president, according to GOP senators and strategists, making the case that Democrats are hindering his agenda." Some Democrats running for reelection in states Trump won-- like Bob Casey (PA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Bill Nelson (FL) and Debbie Stabenow (MI)-- couldn't be happier. Others... not so much.
“If you look at a race in a state like Missouri or North Dakota-- or any of these states-- he’ll be very involved,” said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the GOP’s campaign arm, who speaks with Trump about political strategy regularly. “He’ll be actively campaigning for a Senate majority. Absolutely.”

Republicans will lean most heavily on Trump in five deeply conservative states where the president remains highly popular and where he crushed Hillary Clinton: West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana. But they say they will also deploy Trump in the next tier of swing states that Trump won more narrowly: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. And they expect him to help preserve GOP seats in Nevada, where he narrowly lost, and in Arizona.

In fact, despite his unpopularity on the national level, Republicans insist there isn’t a state on the Senate map where they are nervous about deploying Trump. Republicans reason that opposition to Trump is already baked into the Democratic electorate. They figure Democrats will be motivated to vote whether Trump shows up or not, so they might as well use him to fire up their base, too.

Republicans have “got to have some intensity in our base,” as Sen. John Thune (R-SD) put it.

“Base mobilization is absolutely essential for victory, and there is absolutely no one better at energizing the GOP base than President Donald Trump,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The president can also help raise gobs of money for candidates, Republicans say.
Yes, Democrats will vote for Democrats and Trump could horribly get more Republicans to come out and vote for GOP candidates, but polls show he is absolutely toxic for independent voters and his lying and name-calling and general style motivates them to back Democrats. In other words, the more red meat Trump throws the Republican base, the more he turns off independent voters and motivates them too-- but to favor Democrats who can help keep him in check. Everett and Robillard cautiously warn that "There might be a difference between what Republicans say now and what Trump actually does on the campaign trail come September. No one knows where all the controversies swirling around him will end up." Democrats say "bring it on."
[E]ven if the GOP does follow through on its full Trump deployment plan, Democrats argue that the president’s personality and popularity among some voters is neither transferable to other Republicans nor enough to put their candidates over the top. Just look at the two latest examples, they say: Trump went all in for Rick Saccone in last week’s Pennsylvania special House election, and before that for Roy Moore’s Senate bid in Alabama.

Both lost.

“The pattern here is every time he goes in, they lose,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Still, Democrats are gearing up what are sure to be personal and vicious battles with the president, and some are already making their case to Trump voters. Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s first ad highlighted 13 bills he sponsored that Trump signed into law, even though Tester opposed Trump’s tax bill as well as the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and his attempt to repeal Obamacare. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) similarly has noted 23 bills she has been involved with this Congress that Trump signed. But she doesn’t expect that to spare her from Trump’s scorched-earth campaign tactics. “He’s going to trash me. Have you met him? His method in campaigns is to trash, in fact, do character assaults on opponents,” McCaskill said. Still, she noted there is an upside: “Nothing motivates our base more than Donald Trump.”

Seven of the 10 most vulnerable Senate Democrats said in interviews that they were prepared for Trump to come to their states and make a spectacle of them. Few said they expected it to change the trajectory of their race.

“If it were Ronald Reagan? Yes.” But Trump’s effect is “TBD,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is expected to face Republican Gov. Rick Scott this fall.

“I don’t think he will persuade many people. He barely won in Michigan. And frankly [it was] because 51,000 people voted for Jill Stein,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

If there is a wild card to the GOP’s Trump strategy, it’s whether the president can actually focus on promoting their candidates or going after Democrats. At the most recent Saccone rally, the president spent far more of the time talking about himself than the Republican hopeful.

Another factor: Trump enjoys warm relationships with some Senate Democrats, most notably Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

“He does like Sen. Manchin,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “So it’ll be interesting to see when he does come-- because I know he will-- how he approaches” it. Republicans predicted that Trump will be plenty motivated to take on those Democrats because they have opposed so much of his agenda. There was scant Democratic support for Trump’s most controversial nominees and his rollbacks of Obama-era regulations, and none for the president’s tax cuts and Obamacare repeal push.

“He’s learned his lesson. Trump thought there was going to be bipartisan support? Not happening. Supreme Court, [deregulation], circuit judges, tax bill-- that’s a pretty long list,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).

Republican Senate candidates have already given Trump a bear hug. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) has gone from “99 percent” against Trump to claiming that everything Trump has touched has been “incredible."

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) chose to retire rather than try to run as an anti-Trump Republican in Arizona, which is trending away from Republicans. The hopeful to replace him, establishment pick Rep. Martha McSally, has been using Trump in ads.

In Missouri, a state where Trump received a higher percentage of the vote than any GOP presidential candidate this century, Attorney General Josh Hawley said in his Senate campaign kickoff speech he hopes Trump comes to Missouri “often.”

“Look at the president's popularity there in those states relative to his national popularity,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) of the top-tier races. “He’s doing much better.”

Even in Michigan, a state Trump won by less than a quarter of a percentage point, the campaign of John James, an Iraq War veteran who is challenging Stabenow, said he hopes to campaign with the president.

Though Trump may be a major drag on endangered House Republicans from the suburbs, who have to appeal to a concentrated set of moderate voters, statewide races in rural places like North Dakota and West Virginia are a far different story. So top GOP operatives see bringing Trump out to the states as a way to alleviate one of their biggest fears for 2018: that a depressed base will allow Democrats to run roughshod over them even in heavily conservative areas.

“There are some dangers in running away from the president of your own party,” Holmes said. “People don’t buy it, and you risk alienating your own base.”

Republicans also said Trump could help Republicans close the fundraising gap plaguing many of their candidates, which is forcing them to rely on outside groups for television ads.

But the biggest contribution he can provide is the attention that comes with a presidential visit and nonstop news coverage.

If there is an upside for Democrats in having the president campaign against them in their backyards, it’s that Trump’s presence also brings a reminder that Democratic moderates will be a more effective check on the president than a Republican who would replace them.

“It’s no mystery that if you want someone who’s going to vote with the president 100 percent of the time and do whatever the president wants you to do … then I am probably not someone you should elect in North Dakota,” Heitkamp said. That independence, she added, “is not what the president expects from Congressman [Kevin] Cramer,” her opponent.
Goal ThermometerSo far this year Blue America has endorsed seven Senate candidates, 5 incumbents and 2 challengers. Two-- Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH)-- are incumbents who have remained true to progressive values in states Trump won. Along with challengers going up against conservatives-- Beto O'Rourke in Texas and Kevin de León in California-- are the ones who need the most help. If you're in a giving mood, please click on the ActBlue Senate thermometer on the right and contribute what you can. Blue America doesn't raise money for conservative Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Donnelly, (IN) Claire McCaskill (MO) and Joe Manchin (WV), even if they're generally "better" than their Republican challengers. The Senate needs to be bluer and more progressive. The candidates we're asking you to consider donating to are going to work hard to make the Senate and the country better, not just a little less terrible (some of the time). Vote for them if you want to choose the lesser-of-two-evils candidate, but please consider contributing to candidates who aren't all about triangulation.

Labels: , ,


At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

R "base mobilization" has been the meme since Reagan defined the base to be racist white men and self loathing white women.

It will absolutely animate the Nazi base.

But the hatemongering will hopefully disaffect the non-Nazi-leaning independents.

The difference will be how many independents (and D loyalists) will be equally disaffected by the shit candidates the DxCCs puke up (hoping for defeat, apparently?) factoring in their history of taking majorities and refusing to act on voters' mandates.

It's a race to the bottom... or, in other words, lesser evilism laid bare for all to see. Will American left voters SEE??

At 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For many years now, GOP GOTV efforts are demonstrably better than those of the "democrats". Thus this plan isn't as much as a gamble as it might originally seem. It could very well work, especially since Republican voters do as they are ordered. Dino-Whigs are quite envious that they don't have the same power to order their voters to do as they are told. If they did, HER! would win to 2020 nomination.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:13, a good point.

Rs can make sure their voters stay enthusiastic with simple hatemongering.

D voters are far more likely to pay attention to actual policy and results. It's much easier to incite hatred in those who already hate than it is to fool leftys into failing to see the chronic lack of positive and plethora of negative deeds.

The Ds had it all in 2008. All they had to do for 18 months was earn it -- put a banker and a torturer in prison; force TBTFs to divest (enforce Sherman et al); bail out pensions and homeowners instead of rich investors; disengage in Iraq... Yet they refused.
The result: 15 million of their voters were so pleased that they stayed home.
The Ds' reaction: A collective yawn.

As the democraps today are WORSE and MORE CORRUPT than they were in 2008, there is no possibility that they'll honor any kind of progressive voter mandate.


Post a Comment

<< Home