October 23, 2020

No Coattails for Senate Republicans: It’s Every Senator for Himself or Herself.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

While there are some states that are (and have been) solidly red states that both Trump and the other Republican candidates will dominate, there will be no presidential coattails for other GOP senators to hold onto. Grabbing onto President Trump’s coattails will be like grabbing the tail of a Green Iguana. All one would wind up with is the president’s coattail in their hand.

Indeed, one can make the case that in solidly red states strong Republican Senators may pull Trump along with them. Republican Senators such as Cotton (AR), Inhofe (OK), and Rounds (SD), are a few of the Republican Senators probably pulling along the President in their wake.

There are ten states that are solidly Republican and which one can assume Trump will win handily. For example, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, West Virginia, North Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky Alabama and Nebraska are unquestionably going to be red on every tv broadcast election map on November 3rd. There will, of course, be other red-leaning states that will also go Trump’s way on election night. But if the polls are to be believed, Trump’s way will not be the way to White House.

It isn’t difficult to understand where Trump’s handling of the pandemic has made Republican candidates nervous. His huge pre-pandemic budget deficits, his incessant dog whistles, his alienation of traditional allies, as well as his adolescent schoolyard tantrums, have added unwelcome baggage to the load these senators are carrying.  One just has to focus on where Republican senators are making it a point to distance themselves from their president. For example, first-term North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis is expressing his strong support for Dr. Fauci, who Trump now describes as a disaster…an idiot, and so is Republican Steve Daines who is in a nail biter of an election in Montana. Given the very reasonable chance that Democrats could flip Colorado, Arizona, Maine, South Carolina, Alaska, and quite possibly Iowa and Florida, few Republican incumbents are counting on riding Trump’s coattails to Washington.

President Trump’s base is solid. His base, however, and traditional Republican voters are not one and the same. If you are still reading today’s column, you are reading the perspective of a formerly traditional Republican voter, (for most of the last half century, anyway). The President is in trouble in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, all states that he handily won in 2016. Even Georgia and Ohio are up for grabs.

Many national elections (and even more years) have come and gone since I conducted polls for a political candidate, but I have never looked at a more fascinating political map than that which we see today. There is a lot of purple out there.

If Trump should continue to sink in the polls, and that’s a big if, then-Republican influence in Washington is going to sink, or at least dampen, considerably. So many Republicans, whether they are standing for re-election this year or not, have begun to distance themselves from the President. This suggests, of course, that many Republicans believe President Trump is about to lose the presidency and are now eager to re-establish their conservative bona fides for their constituents back home. This is more than a little laughable given their rather uniform acquiescence to trillion-dollar pre-pandemic deficit spending, tariffs that have not reduced trade deficits one iota from those of the Obama years (in fact, trade deficits have steadily increased during the Trump years), and an onslaught of governance by executive order from the White House.

Republican Senators are now embracing a dramatic return to conservative fiscal orthodoxy on, of all things, the pandemic relief package that is being negotiated between House leader Pelosi and the Administration. Where are the Republicans howling about proposed government spending? Certainly not over military spending, certainly not over expensive new initiatives such as the new Space Force, certainly not over Trump’s wall, and certainly not over massive assistance to help farmers who have lost billions because of Trump’s tariff war. No, they’re drawing a line in the sand over relief for American families and businesses that have been mauled largely because of Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic.   

Listen to Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee. “There’s no appetite right now to spend the White House number or the House number.”

And then there’s Senator Marsha Blackburn, also of Tennessee, who warns that even entertaining a bill with Speaker Pelosi’s support would amount to a “death knell” for Republican control of the Senate.  It would, she said, “deflate” the Republican base. Suddenly, and belatedly, Senate Republicans are rushing to protect their credentials as fiscal conservatives.

Wyoming Republican, John Barrasso, warns that legislation that expands certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act to liberalize coverage during the pandemic would amount to “an enormous betrayal of Republican voters.” Really?

Rick Scott, of Florida commenting on the Trump Administration’s efforts to reach a generous deal with House Democrats provided some insight into Republican mentality during this pandemic. He declared, “I just don’t get it.”

In fairness, several Republican Senators have been urging the leadership to compromise with the House, but their pleas are falling on deaf ears. McConnell has but one mission before the election; rushing through confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Regarding the plight of millions of families severely burdened by the pandemic, well, what’s the hurry?

The United States Senate is in play. As for the 23 Republican Senators who are standing for re-election; they’re mostly on their own. To paraphrase Senator Scott, “they just don’t get it.”

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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19 responses to “No Coattails for Senate Republicans: It’s Every Senator for Himself or Herself.”

  1. Marilyn says:

    The state of Maine , one of the most closely watched senate race, will go down to the wire. Though most of us are hoping Gideon’s slight edge over Collins prevails, we’re not resting on our laurels. It’s frightening, with everything Trump and his senate colleagues represents, that they are still contenders.

  2. Perry Green says:

    One must take in account of the tremendous amount of
    dollars have spent in order to control the three legislative
    branches of government. Particularly in Senate races.

    In my own State of Alaska the Democrats raised $20 million
    dollars and in a conversation with a former Senator from Alaska
    just last Friday he stated “Hell Perry I was happy if I raised
    $1.2 million for the Senate Campaign.”
    In Carolina the Democrats have raised over $86 million dollars
    to defeat Sen. Lindsey Graham.
    PS It’s not working in Alaska and God willing it will not be in
    other States.
    PS 95% of the money came from people outside of the State
    to defeat a great sitting Senator and friend of America and
    Israel.

  3. Peggy Jacobs says:

    I thank you for your research on the various campaigns. You never fail to amaze me. Like you, I am a life long Republican. I have not changed my values but the party has left me. I personally admire Susan Collins. I feel she has voted her principles. It is time for Lindsey Graham to step aside. I pray for a clear victory. We don’t want a repeat of 1877.

  4. James Fisher says:

    Hal, it will be interesting to see if your conclusions regarding the various Senate races are accurate. Of course, only time will tell. To the degree that these adverse outcomes are based upon Trump’s supposed mismanagement of the covid crisis – I wonder how the latest chart released today from the CDC will impact prevailing liberal wisdom.

    The latest CDC chart indicates that the rate of hospitalization for ALL age groups in America is FALLING! No hospitalization – no death. Couple that fact with the admission by many pandemic experts that Trump’s early approval, authorization and ordering of numerous vaccines and therapeutics under his “warp speed” program makes him almost prescient. Again, time will tell.

  5. Steve Provers says:

    Response to James Fisher: You are letting your imagination and wishful thinking run away with your grip on reality!

    A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention study shows the death rate among 25- to 44-year-olds between Jan. 26 and early Oct. 3, 2020 has increased by 26.5% in comparison to previous years. The main cause? The coronavirus pandemic.

  6. Mike says:

    It amuses and saddens me that you continue to refer to yourself as a “formerly traditional Republican voter.”

    I have previously written that you and many of the people that have responded to your posts are basing their vote for Biden based on their hatred for Trump. I know several people that share that sentiment. As I have told them, I can also state that these like minded “traditional Republican Voters” are voting wit( their hearts and not their heads.

    And before you and the other like minded “traditional Republican voters” response, let me ask have you or any of the others taken the time to read the Joe Biden Task Force’s Recommendations (available at Joe Biden.com)?

    Let me cut to the chase. I have yet to meet a single Trump hating “former traditional Republican” that has read this document. In essence, I question whether you or they have read this document, because if you had, I’d love to see a column explaining how you can vote for policies that end the filibuster, pack the court with the addition of four new Justices, admit Puerto Rico and DC as States, drastically increase taxes – including raising the cap on social security from $137,000 to $400,000, and fund the Green New Deal? (Before anyone chooses to dispute this as fake news or a talking point, go and read the Unity Task Force recommendations.) And if you have room in that column, perhaps you can justify your support for Joe’s unconditional support for abortion up until the time of birth or the repeal of the Hyde Amendment; or the doozies in the debate such as shutting down, ooops I mean ‘transitioning away” from fossil fuels or the socialization , ooops I mean the “public option” of our government health care or the fact that you are voting for a man who clearly has dementia. And Joe’s assertion that character is on the ballot is laughable. Perhaps you missed the plagiarisms of the past or the factual lies from the debate (no one lost their coverage under ACA or he never called for the end of fracking), or the Fact that even Hunter has admitted trading on the Biden name.

    Look, I am very unhappy with many of Trump’s personal actions, but as some have argued, we are not just electing a person, we are casting a vote for policies as well. So when I read your columns or hear from other Never Trumpers like Bill Kristol Steve Schmidt, or others, do you truly believe that Biden’s policies will be better for this country?

    While I loathe some of Trump’s actions and tweets, I think his policies and potential judicial appointments are far more consequential than his personal actions. And they are much better for the country my kids and grandkids will grow up in.

    So to you and the other “former traditional Republicans” here is a news flash: “Losers don’t legislate!” And people like Steve Schmidt and other Never Trumpers like you could shorten their message and just say: “We hate Donald Trump so much that we don’t care about any of Joe Biden’s or Kamala Harris’ policies or actions!”

    P.S. your comments about the possibility of fraud on mail in ballots are laughable. Consider the fact that Al Frankenstein was down by almost 3,000 votes on election night in 2008. Miraculously, the Democrats used the mail in process to eke out an appx 700 vote victory. and now in PA with the Court having thrown out postmark and signature validation, you’d have to be delusional to suggest that the fraud associated with mail in votes is minimal.

    Have a great week

    • Comments to this week’s essay have been varied and spirited, and that, on balance, is a good thing. I found it particularly interesting that this particular essay, which dealt with tight Senate races some Republicans are facing produced comments that focused instead on how bad some commenters thought Biden was. Biden, of course, was not the subject of the essay.
      I note Mike’s apparent umbrage to me and other former Republicans who are critical of President Trump. Mike is not the first commenter who presumes I hate the President because I am, in Mike’s view, apparently too critical of the President. Yet, in various essays, I have given Trump “thumbs up” when I agreed with his decisions, and I have been very critical of Democratic criticisms of the President when I felt they were wrong.
      For example, ” President Trump, who can expect little credit for supporting this long over-due bi-partisan effort at criminal justice reform, which would have little chance of passing without his support (no Democrat showed up at his announcement of support), did the right thing. We give him a thumbs up on this one.”
      I also wrote, following his state of the Union address last year, “As for the State of the Union Address, it was in my judgment, the President’s best speech delivery to date. Some of the criticism by the opposition was, frankly, ridiculous. Alexandria, Ocasio-Cortez (of all people) was quick to complain that the speech showed that President Trump hadn’t done his homework. “He gave no details…had no plan” she complained, as though any President presents detailed plans in a State of the Union address. Some complained that he simply read a good speech from a teleprompter. Well, that’s exactly what every President has done since they invented teleprompters.”
      I could site various other instances in which I have supported actions taken by the President and instances in which I have been critical of hyper-partisan and over-zealous attacks against him. That said, my criticisms of actions or positions taken by President Trump reflect my opinion, not hatred.
      I would hasten to add that I was often very critical of President Obama, especially when it came to passing transformative legislation on a purely partisan basis. No doubt there were some who must have presumed I hated him too. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  7. James Fisher says:

    Mike – I must say you nailed it. I cannot figure our how any right-thinking person, regardless of their contempt for Trump, can do to our country what Biden/Harris promise to do to it.

    Far worse, if Harris takes over for Biden you can kiss the America we know goodbye.

    Thanks for expressing what millions of Americans feel.

  8. sg says:

    Mike – Trump has badly broken our country, and Biden will begin the healing and unifying process. I think most people who recognize Trump for what he is would vote for any candidate other than Trump. I appreciate that you acknowledge that Trump’s personal actions are not to your liking — but what exactly do you feel is the exchange that is worth losing our democracy.

    Are you referring to Trump’s policies like summarily removing US attorneys who were investigating the corruption of the Trump organization? Or interfering with the judicial process by commuting /reducing the sentence of felons like Roger Stone and Mike Flynn? Or is it that he extorts former allies in exchange for dirt on his election opponents — or for that matter, has ordered the DOJ to imprison his opponents. Or perhaps you’re happy with Trump sending unidentified soldiers to drag protesters into unmarked vans? Or that he teargasses peaceful protesters to clear an area for a photo op? Or are you referring to the fact that incoming immigrant children at the border are torn from the arms of their parents – some of them as young as 4 months, and still breastfeeding (imagine that was YOUR child!) – and that incoming immigrants are kept in wire cages. Or maybe you are referring to Trump’s insistence (without evidence) that mail-in ballots are fraudulent, or his dismantling of the USPS three months before the election by removing collection boxes and high-speed sorters and reducing the hours of Post Office employees? Or that he has leaned on the CDC to lie about the coronavirus statistics so that even more Americans will die under his watch (225,000 to date with 8.7 million infected). Or perhaps you are referring to the fact that Trump has engaged his neo-Nazi militias by telling them to stand back and stand by? Or that he has refused to say one word against the neo-nazi group who planned to kidnap and murder Governor Whitmer? Or ditto for the Russians who are looking for bounties on the US soldiers in Afghanistan? Finally, maybe the policy you are ok with is Trump’s steadfast claim that he will not comply with one of the cornerstones of our democracy — the peaceful transfer of power.

    Trump is concerned about one thing – maintaining his own power and staying in office to exploit our country for his own gain. He gives not a whit about anyone or anything else, save his own family. The abject cruelty of this man toward anyone who does not agree with him or did not vote for him, the unending corruption of his Administration – the complete and total disregard for separation of powers and for the Constitution, just takes your breath away. It will take a generation to repair the damage he has done – and we will spend years trying to figure out what brought this scourge upon our country.

    The bottom line is that there are no financial or economic policies that you can conjure up, real or imagined, that are worth losing our democracy. We have one last chance – it is time to vote him out.

  9. Stuart Goldfine says:

    I stick with Mike. Nice job, Mike.

  10. Betty Wolf says:

    Well said, Mike.

  11. PLevy says:

    Mike states it perfectly. S g needs a new news source.

  12. sg says:

    PLevy – Washington Post, NY Times, CNN, other similar mainstream news sources. Sorry — despite what you’d like to think, this is all real news. Look these things up for yourself.

  13. evg says:

    Thank you Mike….couldn’t be better verbalized. With you all the way in keeping our democracy.
    As for sg, you are delusional….your essay is full of inaccuracies. Should your candidate win, we would like to hear from you several months hence.

  14. sg says:

    evg -Name calling will not persuade me or anyone else that your views are sound.

    I am not going to argue with you on Hal’s blog. But suffice it to say that all of the information I posted is available in the mainstream media- in some cases, there is video footage. Just google and see for yourself.

  15. Mike says:

    SG

    With all due respect, given the glaring inaccuracies in the NYT, the Washington Post, CNN and let’s throw in MSNBC or the Atlantic for good measure, it is stunning, yet consistent that you would view these as crisble news sources.

    I could give you several examples of their falsified stories. My particular favorite is the Atlantic story based on “anonymous” sources about what Trump said about the soldiers who gave their lives and were in the cemetery in Colleville was reprehensible. And Joe is using that in his ads.

    Meanwhile The Hunter Biden PC story is dismissed as a Russian conspiracy. SG, has Joe denied the authenticity of the emails or videos? I am pretty sure the answer is “No.” Instead he dismisses that and other factual statements or the existence of factual evidence.

    As I said in my original post, make peace with the fact that you voted with your heart and not your head. You have not read the Biden Unity Task Force recommendations and substantively, you have no idea about what policies you are voting for. All you know is that you hate Trump and that is all you need to know. Unfortunately, policies have consequences and I believe Biden’s policies will be disastrous for my kids and grandkids.

    And Hal, if you are monitoring this exchange, perhaps you will take time to assess how your comments are being interpreted.

    That’s it for now. Let’s take time to celebrate the confirmation of ACB

  16. sg says:

    Mike – thank you for your civil response. I would say that in most cases, we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Re: your comments on the mainstream media -I’m not sure which of the events in my post you feel are inaccurate — all of them are common knowledge and have been well documented in multiple sources, including video footage that has been played and replayed on CNN and MSNBC along with commentary by former Generals, FBI officials and journalist/lawyers like David Frum who consider themselves to be staunch conservatives, now opposing Trump. Drudge has even posted on some of these issues. I do read Atlantic and the New Yorker – and have found the journalism to be well researched and documented.

    I stand by the veracity of each of the statements in my post.

    As for the Hunter Biden emails – even it if is true – and there is no reliable source that will document this other than Trump’s own DNI and DOJ which have both been corrupted beyond recognition – Trump fires anyone who dares to tell the truth. In any case, Trump himself has committed acts that are so much more egregious, by orders of magnitude, that he is hardly in a position to call a kettle black on this, or on any purported scandal he or Giuliani can conjure up in their minds.

    As for the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Plan: In fact, I have read summaries of this document. I have never been a supporter of Bernie Sanders or of AOC. I am a centrist Democrat, as is Joe Biden. I am on board with most all of the policies proposed and would even go much farther on Climate Change which I consider to be a coming catastrophe which will make COVID and repeal of the ACA without an alternative, look like child’s play. Each one of the points in the Task Force Plan – Health care, immigration, police reform, etc. is a full discussion in itself. I don’t agree 100% with everything, but by and large, this plan can begin to put our country together again.

    Look, Mike – it doesn’t appear that I will change your mind about any of this, nor will you change mine. But Biden is a good and decent man who genuinely wants the best for our country – he understands the Constitution and will bring back separation of powers and rule of law, he works across the aisle, and I believe he will, as mentioned before, begin the healing and unification that our country so desperately needs. Will he raise taxes? Yes – but we need to dig out of this unprecedented national debt to approach an even keel again.

    I am not as generous as Hal is in my assessment of this President. Trump has unequivocally been the worst President in my lifetime, – aside from his pathological lying – his actions are nakedly xenophobic, and he sets Americans against each other in ways I have never seen before (and I am 71). Moreover, and shockingly, he incites violence upon those who disagree with him –“stand back and stand by” and the plot against Gov. Whitmer, are only two cases in point.

    I for one would gladly pay higher taxes for a principled President with decades of experience who has only the interests of America as his number one priority and who will put an end to this era of chaos and hate.

  17. Robert borns says:

    America is fiddling while we are burning. Our country is not addressing Some of our real internal problemssuch as the urban non existent education fiasco, the local state and federal Governments overspending, and on and on. We are not destined to be number one just because we want to be. Remember Argentina was the richest country per capital in the world in 1900. Open your history books and study Ancient Greece. They concentrated on fighting against each other and outsiders took over. Current times with USA and China? How can Biden lose?Virtually every newspaper,every tv network, every social media outlet,every educational institution,most clergy,most big money contributors etc are pushing for Biden. Why blacks,Jews,Christians,average Americans are for a lifelong hack politician who only loves them on Election Day mystifies me and actually makes me laugh. God help us because the hack politicos wont.

  18. Stephen Prover says:

    Response to SG: Your responses to “the boys in the band” with their usual tiresome talking points and ad hominem attacks against Biden, Hal and even yourself were measured, thoughtful and scrupulously based in documented fact. I hope you will continue to contribute to these commentaries whoever you may be.

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