Thursday, August 09, 2018

Warning Signs that Trump Will Prove Toxic to the GOP in November

While Democrats failed to win any stunning knockout blow in Tuesday's special election and primaries, nonetheless, the results have many Republicans running scared and at a loss as to whether to embrace Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenf├╝hrer, or run from him as if he is a leper. One positive note for Democrats is that Trump seemingly thinks he knows more than anyone else and may well inject himself into races where Republican candidates would prefer he remain invisible.  Adding to their fears is the rabid dog nature of the GOP base which is enthralled with Trump and the bigotry and misogyny that he represents.  If they reject Trump, the base may revolt while if they embrace him, suburban voters and women flee to Democrats. While Trump is a unique problem, much of the toxicity of today's GOP is the result of a decades long pandering to extremists which began with the GOP's embrace of Christofascist beginning in the 1980's and reinforced by the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the GOP dilemma.  Here are highlights:

A new round of lackluster showings by Republican candidates reignited a debate Wednesday within the GOP over whether President Trump will be a drag on the party’s chances in November and should stay out of some of the country’s most hotly contested races. . . . mounting apprehension about Trump’s political capital lingered in Washington and on the campaign trail.
In a flurry of elections on Tuesday — from the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, to the technology corridor in Washington state — Democrats turned out in droves and significantly overperformed expectations by posing serious challenges to Republicans in staunchly GOP districts. Many Republican strategists viewed the results as a dark omen three months ahead of Election Day, saying they illustrate the limits of Trump’s ability to boost candidates, particularly in suburban areas where the president’s popularity has suffered.
Even in Republican primaries, securing Trump’s endorsement was not a guarantee of electoral success.
“Nothing bodes well,” said longtime Republican consultant Stuart Stevens, a frequent Trump critic. “You look at the amount of money spent on the Republican side in Ohio, the focus put on it,” including a Trump rally last weekend in the district, “and you have an early warning sign. It’s time for Republicans to counteract.”
Trump took a different lesson from the outcomes, crowing in a flurry of tweets that his presence on the campaign trail and his record could lift his party and prompt a “giant Red Wave!”
Despite Trump’s last-minute visit and Republicans significantly outspending Democrats, Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson was barely ahead of Democrat Danny O’Connor, an elected county recorder, in Tuesday’s special congressional election in central Ohio. The race remained too close to call Wednesday, with thousands of provisional votes still outstanding.
The razor-thin margin comes in a district that Trump won by 11 points in 2016 and that Republicans have held since 1983. Balderson had embraced Trump in the campaign’s final stretch.
The result “reinforces our view that [Democrats] are substantial favorites to retake the House,” said David Wasserman, a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. 
Balderson was far from the only Republican who underwhelmed on Tuesday.  Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, failed to win 50 percent of the vote in a primary and will face Democrat Lisa Brown in November. Washington state has a nonpartisan primary process in which the top two finishers move on to the general election. All year, McMorris Rodgers has been confronting pointed questions about her support for Trump’s policies.
In Michigan, where Democrats are aiming to take back the governor’s mansion, voter turnout set records, according to state officials, with more than 2 million votes cast — the most in the state since 1978.
Congressional Republicans were further jolted Wednesday when Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a prominent Trump ally, was charged with insider trading by federal prosecutorsIvanka Trump is likely to be dispatched to suburban districts to talk about the economy and the workforce, while the president is expected to be on the road at least three or four days a week in swing states such as Ohio and in states where he was dominant in 2016, such as West Virginia, the two people said.
White House officials have been giving Trump weekly or biweekly updates on races and showing him polling and pictures of candidates along with the staff or party leadership recommendation of what to do in each contest, . . . But Trump doesn’t always listen to advisers and has been driving the strategy himself,  . . .
Republicans working with the White House also pointed to Tuesday’s elections in Kansas as the latest example of the volatility inside the West Wing. Kris Kobach, the anti-immigration secretary of state who served as vice chairman of Trump’s now-disbanded voting integrity commission, was endorsed by Trump in the Kansas’s Republican gubernatorial primary less than 24 hours before polls opened. Some aides and top Republicans had urged him to hold off on endorsing Kobach, who they fear could threaten other Republicans running this fall because of his hard-line positions. The race remained too close to call Wednesday, with Kobach holding a lead of fewer than 200 votes over Gov. Jeff Colyer.
But it was in the suburbs, more than in ruby-red enclaves, where Republican nerves were fraying most on Wednesday.
July poll published by NPR, “PBS NewsHour” and Marist College found that 36 percent of suburban adults approved of Trump while 59 percent disapproved, a more negative rating than among Americans overall. The same poll found that just 18 percent of suburban adults approved of the job Republicans in Congress were doing, while 72 percent disapproved. “They’re frozen in the headlights,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy said. “Everyone’s in this defense crouch. They’re afraid of getting on the wrong side of their base and afraid of general election voters.”
The tricky balancing act facing GOP candidates is apparent on policy. On immigration, most Republicans are eager to rally Trump voters who are clamoring for a border wall to be built — and Trump has been calling for a shutdown of the federal government unless Congress appropriates funds for that purpose. But they also feel pressure to reassure moderates alarmed by the Trump administration’s abandoned push to separate migrant children from their parents.
Kasich, who represented Ohio’s 12th Congressional District from 1983 to 2001 and is considering challenging Trump in the 2020 presidential election, has questioned the stand-proudly-with-Trump approach that was taken by Balderson, whom he endorsed. . . . adding that “suburban women in particular here are the ones that are really turned off.”
While I do not trust Kasich on many issues, he seems to be one of the few semi-sane Republicans left. 

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