A new report released by a top election expert shows that Donald Trump’s presidency and historically low approval numbers may have a significant down ballot impact on 2018’s elections.
The Cook Political Report, which has released a widely-respected elections forecast newsletter for decades, has a stern warning for the Republican Party, and it’s all in the data. A dozen districts changed ranking this week, and it’s all bad news for Republicans.
Here are the shifts in question:
You can read the full report here for specifics on changes within particular districts, but the reasons for the changes all have a common theme: White House occupant Donald Trump. Perhaps the most notable on the list is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), otherwise known as Putin’s pet congressman:
‘Rohrabacher’s profile as a surfing, pro-marijuana conservative has played well in this part of Orange County since 1988. But as this coastal district’s demographics have changed, Rohrabacher has taken a different turn: his recent sympathetic comments towards Russia and strange interactions with Julian Assange and internet conspiracy theorist Chuck Johnson could amount to self-sabotage in a district President Trump narrowly lost.
‘Democrats in DC are thrilled with Hans Keirstead, a stem cell and cancer researcher who founded a biotech company that was sold for $126 million. Keirstead will talk about helping spinal cord injury victims recover function and the need to cut through FDA red tape. He’s not just new to politics, he’s new to the country: he grew up in Canada, still speaks with a Canadian accent and only became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
‘Keirstead is confident he can get past real estate businessman Harley Rouda in the primary and peel off Rohrabacher’s corporate support, but his political skills are still unproven to say the least. Rohrabacher allies insist voters aren’t focused on Russia and appreciate his “independent streak,” but Democrats can also make the case that 30 years in Congress is too long. This is one of Democrats’ best takeover opportunities in California.’
Donald Trump’s presidency has proved toxic for the Republican Party. While many in the GOP dreamt of some sort of “pivot,” where campaign Donald Trump suddenly became capable of presidential behavior after winning the election and assuming office, it never materialized. Donald Trump of today is the same superficial, vindictive, unbalanced man he was on the campaign trail.
Even now, rumor has it that Senate Republicans have already turned their backs on any hope of Donald finishing out his term. Instead, they’re hoping for a win on something – preferably tax reform – to give to their base when they inevitably have to face the voters in 2018 and 2020. Because Senators serve six year terms, rather than two, the Republican Senate is relatively insulated from the political effects of Trump’s behavior. They’re hoping that they can get legislation done while containing his damage elsewhere.
However, Trump’s constant race baiting, poor response to Puerto Rico, and constant saber-rattling with nuclear threats may end up being just too much for Republicans to bear. If Trump’s numbers continue to slide, and he becomes toxic enough that even the fanatically loyal begin to abandon his cult of personality, Republicans might have to bite the bullet and excise him.
It’s hard to see Republicans gaining ground in the polls at this point without major legislative victories. Any ground they lose will be very difficult to make up. It’s difficult to excuse nothing of note getting done when you have the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, and even the Supreme Court. Yet, as the summer deliberations over the future of healthcare legislation showed, Republicans have a serious leadership problem.
It is not easy to govern the country or win elections when you can’t even get your own party together to pass the agenda you’ve been trumpeting for most of a decade.
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