In this current election cycle, each time the GOP and its likely presidential standard bearer does or says something utterly shocking - not to mention, completely untrue - one ponders as to whether the Party/Trump as finally bottomed out. And each time a new low is reached, the GOP and/or Trump shows that the party's descent into utter insanity is still a work in progress and that there seems to be no limit to the party's degradation and betrayal of constitutional system drawn up by the Founding Fathers. And the consequence of all of this? Growing concern that Trump will lead the GOP to an epic defeat that includes loss of control of the U.S. Senate or, although far less likely, control of the House of Representatives. A piece in the New York Times looks at the phenomenon. Here are excerpts:
As Donald Trump’s campaign continues to spiral, a crucial question arises: How much collateral damage could he inflict on the Republican Party? If recent patterns in straight-ticket voting hold and Trump’s campaign continues to falter, Trump could carry a host of Republican down-ballot candidates with him to defeat.Take a look at the presidential election of 2012. That year, in 410 of 435 congressional districts, voters chose the presidential and House candidates of the same party. Put another way, voters split their tickets in only 5.7 percent of all congressional districts.
In the 1980s, by contrast, the percentage of congressional districts in which voters split their tickets ranged from 32.9 percent to 43.7 percent.
This year, according to Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia:
The presidential race looms very large down the ballot. And as we examine the state of the Senate, House and gubernatorial races coming up this year and next, the presidential outcome may be especially important in the highest-profile category: the Senate.
This concern for the fate of the broader Republican Party can be seen in the skittishness of party activists, conservatives and congressional leaders.
Less publicized trends among key demographic groups are compounding Republican anxiety. Trump’s heaviest losses, according to survey data, are among those voters he most needs to remain competitive: whites and especially white men.
When you compare polls taken between May 22 and 25 (the high point to date for Trump in matchups with Hillary Clinton) with polls published over the last week, you can see how much damage Trump has inflicted on himself. In matchups with Clinton, Trump has experienced double digit declines in support from men, from young voters, from all whites and from white college graduates in particular.
Polls are also showing an increase in the percentage of Republicans who are indicating that they might sit out the 2016 election.
There are other recent measures of Republican disaffection and Democratic enthusiasm.
A Marquette Law School survey of Wisconsin voters, published on June 15, shows that among Democrats an increasing number of people are committing to vote in November – from 80 percent in March to 84 percent in June – while the percentage of Republicans committed to voting fell from 87 percent to 78 percent over the same time period.
As Trump becomes the indelible image of the Republican Party, the problems for Republican candidates seeking to distance themselves from him are only going to worsen. Trump’s imprint on the party will be cemented in the minds of many voters during the convention in Cleveland from July 18-21, which Trump intends to turn into a four-day spectacle focused on his persona — an entertainment extravaganza designed to hold millions of voters to their television (and other) screens.
If Trump’s poll numbers continue to slide, Clinton is positioned to damage his campaign before the general election is fully engaged.
A number of analyses confirm that Republicans are correct to worry that their Senate or even their House majority could be overturned.
As Charlie Cook wrote presciently on March 25,
The Republican Senate majority is tenuous even if the GOP under performs even a little on Election Day, even without a disruptive candidate at the top of the ticket. With the GOP majority at 54 to 46, Democrats need a four-seat net gain if they hold the White House.
In the House, Cook wrote, a
plausible scenario, assuming the GOP presidential ticket is weak, would be a loss of a dozen or more seats for Republicans, cutting their House margin in half. Given the GOP’s difficulty in pushing through legislation even with the largest House majority since 1928, Paul Ryan will have a devil of a time winning votes if he loses this cushion.
This November, with Trump at the top of the ticket, 86 of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will be up for grabs, along with 1,210 state senate seats (61.4 percent of the total), 4,710 state house seats (87 percent of the total), according to Ballotpedia, an online encyclopedia of American politics and elections.
Let's hope Trump continues to run the GOP brand into the ground.