Monday, June 06, 2016

Is A Congressional Bloodbath Coming For GOP Candidates Who Hopped Aboard The Trump Train? Oh Yes


This morning an inexperienced campaign manager called and asked me for some advise. She talked-- mostly complaining and gossiping and babbling about herself-- for over an hour and I doubt she listened to a word I said. But what I told her her under-funded, unknown candidate must do is tie their opponent to Trump. "Every time someone thinks about him, Trump should come into their consciousness. Your candidate is a long-shot, but, in your district, this is the way to do it."

Do you know who Republican strategist Rick Wilson is? Many people heard about him when he launched a Republican Establishment jihad against Trump. In late March, he told the NY Times that he would prefer Hillary to Trump; may conservatives would. He told Times readers "I will not vote for Hillary, and I will not vote for Trump. At the end of the day, I believe that President Clinton would be less damaging to the Republican Party than President Trump. Because five minutes after she’s elected president, every bit of this anxiety in our party disappears instantly. We will go at the main enemy as we do. It will be a terrible four years, but it will have stopped this lunacy... I wrote the original Reverend Wright ad. I have spent a 25-year career in politics detonating Democrats out of safe seats and causing no end of troubles for them. I’m not a squishy liberal Republican."

Over the weekend, he wrote about one of my favorite subjects: what Trump is likely to do for down-ballot Republicans. Tonight we'll watch North Carolina's second congressional district where a GOP civil war raged between two different Republican establishments. Although she started her political life as a teabagger, Renee Ellmers was identified as a shill for the Beltway establishment and as a Boehner/Ryan lackey. The Club for Growth, the Koch brothers and half a dozen other far right establishment anti-establishment groups backed George Holding. Trump weighed in outside this dichotomy-- backing Ellmers solely based on his own narcissistic perspective (i.e., she endorsed him)-- and he was unable to rescue her political career. Maybe he'll remember to make her Secretary of Something in his imaginary cabinet.

Conjuring up a warning, Wilson asked his readers to imagine that "it’s the Fall of this year and you’re a U.S. House or Senate candidate in a swing district or state. Your Democratic opponent is running a low-risk campaign, having pivoted to the slightly-center-left with aplomb. Regardless of their actual beliefs, they’ve got their masks bolted on tight, staying relentlessly on message as technocratic middle-of-the-lane moderates. Barack Obama’s approval numbers keep creeping higher and higher as a kind of “at least he’s not crazy or obviously corrupt” vibe sets in with the public. It makes your “Obamacare, Benghazi, tranny bathrooms” message cluster feel less promising than it did last year when you were planning this run, doesn’t it?"
When you endorsed him, you bought all the problems Trump has with the voters and none of the assets. That’s why you’re awake at night, staring at the ceiling wondering what the madman will tweet next. You’ve had a tough summer, with endless questions from the press in your not-too-conservative state. Every time he opens his mouth, you’re flooded with questions. You wake up every day trying to stay on your message, but each morning your guts get watery when the Google alert with “your name + Donald Trump” pops on your iPhone. It’s why you can’t go on your Twitter or Facebook or do town hall meetings; because the whole election is about Trump, not you.

The resources you need from the donor community are a bright spot, because they’re certainly not giving the money to Mr. Self Funder Billionaire, but you’re having to spend it basically as it comes in to defend yourself. Your opponent and their allied SuperPACs are pounding you with media linking you at the hip with Trump. The themes are easy to predict; “Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists…and Candidate X still backs him…100%” is the core script. Some of the connections are tenuous, but it doesn’t matter. All because you said the fateful words, “I support Donald Trump.”

I get it. You were terrified of his online horde of low-information whackjobs, neo-Nazi trolls, red-hat jackasses and their endless, febrile demands that you worship at the foot of Agent Orange. Hell, you’re a politician. You want to be loved. He was beating all the people you liked and respected, one after another. The media kept making him the spotlight, the hot focus of attention and you wanted some of that mojo, didn’t you? Bad call.

You see it in your polling, every day. Trump’s poison brand has splashed over on you, like the reek of some political sewage you can’t wash off. Your data model shows you need to capture at least 30% of the Hispanic vote, but with Trump polling with Hispanics in the low teens and nearing single digits in some places, you can’t seem to break through. Married, professional women are voting for Hillary in droves, repelled by Donald Trump’s racism, misogyny, and also by the increasingly hideous behavior of his supporters. They’re suddenly not so fond of you, either.

You own his politics. You own his policies, even the ones that only last as long as the next contradiction. You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth. You own his racist bleatings about Mexicans and “his” African Americans. You own his digital Hitler Youth alt-reich fanboys with their white-power fantasies and roaring anti-Semitism.

He’s political poison. Don’t believe me? You will. Feel that sinking sensation? That’s Trump’s negatives dragging you down. Donald Trump’s polling-average approval rating among registered and likely voters today stands at a grisly 34% favorable and 60.5% unfavorable.Hillary’s isn’t much better, but she has the small benefit of being able to shut her mouth when some crazy thought is trying to escape her mind.

You were intrigued by his new, energetic populist message that breaks out of the stale confines of the tired old GOPe’s message playbook? You mean “build duh wall!” and “bomb duh oil?” and the rest of his catalog of slack-jawed inanities? Good luck with that. Yes, you need to stop “speaking Washington” but Trump’s message, affect and style isn’t fungible to human candidates.

Oh, you believed he was expanding the electorate? Bringing in millions of new voters? They’re not new; they’re just general election GOP voters who came out for him in the primary. Not you. Him. You perhaps overlooked that he’s also shedding millions of voters from the GOP’s coalition. If you’re in a swing state or district, tell me how you win back the Republican women and professionals who are fleeing Trump in droves? Tell me how you win in Florida or Nevada or Colorado as Hispanic support approached single digits?

He’s not going to change. He’s not going to stop being a shallow blowhard and non-stop-Malaprop. There is no better Trump. He’s not going to become more Presidential or more mindful. Trump doesn’t give a damn about your election. You’re not part of a unified Republican ticket; you’re collateral damage in Trump Rampage Raw WWE 2016. Every day, Donald Trump hands the Democrats another sword with which to cut off your political heads. Every day, Trump adds to their catalog of opposition research and endlessly catchy video bits. He’s all yours, and there are few paths to escape the blast radius.

Earlier this evening Lindsey Graham said that Trump's jihad against Judge Curiel are "the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy" and, more ominously, that "there’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary." (And ole Lindsey doesn't really hate Hillary anyway.) So... the thermometer below leads to a unique fundraising page: #NeverTrump-- too late for Republicans; anything but too late for normal people.
Goal Thermometer

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At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great post and commentary.


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