Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Down-Ballot Republicans Brace For Trumpageddon

by JASmius

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.

Polling Data

PollDateSampleAyotte (R)Hassan (D)Spread
RCP Average1/4 - 4/17--45.341.5Ayotte +3.8
WMUR/UNH4/7 - 4/17553 LV4342Ayotte +1
NBC/WSJ/Marist1/17 - 1/232258 RV4540Ayotte +5
Gravis1/15 - 1/181197 RV4942Ayotte +7
PPP (D)1/4 - 1/61036 RV4442Ayotte +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


Tammy Duckworth
Tammy Duckworth (D)
Mark Kirk
Mark Kirk (R)*

Polling Data

PollDateSampleMoEDuckworth (D)Kirk (R)Spread
PPP (D)7/20 - 7/21931 RV3.24236Duckworth +6

....ditto Ron Johnson.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by ten)

Polling Data

PollDateSampleFeingold (D)Johnson (R)Spread
RCP Average3/24 - 4/15--48.743.0Feingold +5.7
WPR/St. Norbert4/12 - 4/15616 RV5141Feingold +10
Emerson3/30 - 4/31198 LV4844Feingold +4
Marquette3/24 - 3/28957 LV4744Feingold +3

....and the aforementioned John Boozman.... (No Trump-Rodham polling available)

Arkansas Senate - Boozman vs. Beebe

Polling Data

PollDateSampleBeebe (D)Boozman (R)Spread
Talk Business Poll*6/8 - 6/111183 LV4537Beebe +8
PPP (D)8/1 - 8/31066 RV4640Beebe +6

....plus Rob Portman.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by four)

Polling Data

PollDateSampleMoEStrickland (D)Portman (R)Spread
RCP Average2/16 - 4/27----41.040.0Strickland +1.0
PPP (D)4/26 - 4/27799 RV3.23838Tie
Quinnipiac2/16 - 2/201539 RV2.54442Strickland +2

....Darth Queeg.... (Trump trails Mrs. Clinton by four)

Polling Data

PollDateSampleMoEMcCain (R)Kirkpatrick (D)Spread
RCP Average3/7 - 4/11----41.541.0McCain +0.5
Behavior Research Center4/4 - 4/11564 RV4.24242Tie
Merrill Poll3/7 - 3/11701 LV3.74140McCain +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.

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