The one common thread? Trying to walk the tightrope between courting Trumplicans (who hate them all anyway because they're incumbents and "professional politicians" and "the establishment") and quarantining themselves from the Trump undertow....
....will be impossible:
New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte may soon have a problem, likely a common one for GOP senators who, like her, are up for re-election in November. His name is Donald Trump.
“She can't embrace him and win in November,” said Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the State’s Republican Party. “She can only do so much to distance herself from him in the meantime.”
Trump dominated the State’s Republican primary on February 9th, when a coalition of independents and Republicans in the State gave him a twenty-point victory. But the general election is liable to be different — his approval rating in the State hovers near 20%. If current polling there holds, Trump would lose by nineteen points to Democrat presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. [emphases added]
Senator Ayotte is locked in a tight re-election race with popular Democrat Governor Maggie Hasan.
|Poll||Date||Sample||Ayotte (R)||Hassan (D)||Spread|
|RCP Average||1/4 - 4/17||--||45.3||41.5||Ayotte +3.8|
|WMUR/UNH||4/7 - 4/17||553 LV||43||42||Ayotte +1|
|NBC/WSJ/Marist||1/17 - 1/23||2258 RV||45||40||Ayotte +5|
|Gravis||1/15 - 1/18||1197 RV||49||42||Ayotte +7|
|PPP (D)||1/4 - 1/6||1036 RV||44||42||Ayotte +2|
Note the trend in that race is not going in Ayotte's direction.
And so it is across the country:
The presidential race plays a crucial, tidal role in so-called down-ballot races, exerting an inexorable pull that's difficult to resist. This year, with Trump trailing in most national polls, it’s an extremely dangerous environment for certain Republican senators. With Democrats hoping to pick up at least five seats, which would put them back in the majority, they’re targeting Ayotte, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, and several others in blue or purple states.
Kirk is already trailing.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by twenty-five)
Illinois Senate - Kirk vs. Duckworth
....ditto Ron Johnson.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by ten)
|Poll||Date||Sample||Feingold (D)||Johnson (R)||Spread|
|RCP Average||3/24 - 4/15||--||48.7||43.0||Feingold +5.7|
|WPR/St. Norbert||4/12 - 4/15||616 RV||51||41||Feingold +10|
|Emerson||3/30 - 4/3||1198 LV||48||44||Feingold +4|
|Marquette||3/24 - 3/28||957 LV||47||44||Feingold +3|
....and the aforementioned John Boozman.... (No Trump-Rodham polling available)
Arkansas Senate - Boozman vs. Beebe
....plus Rob Portman.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by four)
|Poll||Date||Sample||MoE||Strickland (D)||Portman (R)||Spread|
|RCP Average||2/16 - 4/27||--||--||41.0||40.0||Strickland +1.0|
|PPP (D)||4/26 - 4/27||799 RV||3.2||38||38||Tie|
|Quinnipiac||2/16 - 2/20||1539 RV||2.5||44||42||Strickland +2|
....Darth Queeg.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by four)
|Poll||Date||Sample||MoE||McCain (R)||Kirkpatrick (D)||Spread|
|RCP Average||3/7 - 4/11||--||--||41.5||41.0||McCain +0.5|
|Behavior Research Center||4/4 - 4/11||564 RV||4.2||42||42||Tie|
|Merrill Poll||3/7 - 3/11||701 LV||3.7||41||40||McCain +1|
....and Marco Rubio's Florida seat is gone regardless of who the Democrats nominate. (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by five)
There are some Senate Republicans that are still above-water - Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by nine), Richard Burr in North Carolina (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by two), Chuck Grassley in Iowa (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by four) - but that's five seats that are hanging out to wind right now, which would flip the Senate right there. The only question appears to be how big the Democrat majority is going to get. I would suggest that any GOP incumbent needs to be up by double-digits to avoid getting dragged down by the Trump undertow.
The truth is, any GOP incumbent not in a safe seat has no good options. They can try to pander to Trumplicans and doom themselves with "swing" voters, or vice versa. But they cannot do both without alienating both:
All of the endangered GOP incumbents are adopting versions of the same strategy: Localize and personalize. There will be no more Statewide ads on ObamaCare. Instead, voters will hear about how their representatives brought home the bacon, even if they had to buck party leaders, or even party orthodoxy, to do it.
Thus (further) alienating Trumpers.
The challenge is to surf Trump’s outsider wave....
Thus alienating swing voters.
....and not alienate his voters — without being trapped in some of his noxious positions and personal unpopularity.
Which they have to actively disavow and from which they have to actively distance themselves - thus (even further) alienating Trumpoids. Is everybody beginning to see the Hobson's choice here?
Candidates “should be, and I'm sure they will be, highlighting how they’re different from Washington as usual,” said Los-Angeles based GOP ad maker Fred Davis.
Two words, folks: Kobayashi Maru.
My suggestion? Start preparing to spend a lot more time with their families, 'cause that's what they're going to be getting eight months from now.