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.”