Is The Congressional Firewall Holding Against The Trump Effect?

Is The Congressional Firewall Holding Against The Trump Effect?

So far, the answer appears to be….yes.

But the night, as they say, is young:

Donald Trump will prove a boon to House Democrats, top campaign officials said Monday morning, though they conceded that a Trump drag has yet to exhibit itself because the election’s dynamics have been slow to solidify.

“This election is breaking late,” said Kelly Ward, executive director of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee. “The dynamic of what is happening at the top of the ticket is taking a while to solidify,” leaving the House as a lagging indicator. Nevertheless, added New Mexico-3 Representative Ben Ray Lujan, who chairs the committee, “Whether people try to run away from Donald Trump now or not, the damage has been done.”

It’s mid-June, gentles; that’s awfully early for an election to “break,” even in 2016.  Just as the dynamic of what is happening at the top of the ticket has already pretty much solidified: The American electorate emphatically wants other viable choices besides the two most loathed figures in American politics today, but are holding their noses moderately less for Hillary Clinton than they are for Donald Trump.  He got a small post-nomination-clinching bump, which is now fading, and she may or may not get a bump after hers, but if she does, it will settle back down to that mid-single-digits margin by which she will eventually win in November.  Indeed, I would argue that the top-of-the-ticket dynamic has not only solidified, it has congealed.

The question has always been the effect down-ballot.  Coattails (positive and negative) have ceased to be an electoral phenomenon over the past generation, but the sheer stench and spectacle of Trumpmania figured to bring them back, though they also figured to have the least impact in the House.  The evidence thus far seems to reinforce that conclusion:

While a Trump effect on the House has been much discussed (see here, here,here and here, for example) it has yet to exhibit itself in terms of the shape of the House battlegrounds: A perusal back through the Cook Political Report’s ratings of House races, for example, shows a surprisingly stable battle for the House. The most recent chart, issued last week, rated forty-five GOP-held seats as competitive (with three in the “likely Democrat” column, two more in “lean Democrat,” fifteen toss-ups, thirteen in “lean Republican” and another dozen in “likely Republican”); one month ago there were forty-four competitive Republican seats, divided roughly the same way; the number was forty-three the month before that. Democrats have thirteen competitive seats, according to the latest Cook tally, and need to net thirty seats to regain the majority in the House.

Doesn’t sound like a “blue wave” election at the House level to me.  It might have been if the Dems had cared about electability and nominated Bernie Sanders instead, but as I have discussed for years now, Hillary Clinton inspires nothing other than heartburn.  She’ll win because Trump is an even worse alternative for every voter outside his Peronist personality cult, but dragging her own fat ass across the finish line will be enough of a burden without having to lift all those other boats at the same time.

But what about in the Senate, where the GOP was going to have a difficult enough time holding onto its 54-46 majority even before the ill-fated, ill-advised rise of the pompadoured prince?  Turns out there’s still some flickering hope there as well:

This lines up with polling seen in Senate and gubernatorial races. Trump’s negatives and lack of gain from Mitt Romney’s polling levels in 2012 hasn’t shown any impact on other Republicans. In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey still holds a substantial lead over Democrat challengers despite Trump’s lack of significant traction. In Utah, a poll taken a week ago shows Trump not even reaching 30% in a three-way race for the presidency in this deep-red State and only 36% in a two-way battle against Hillary Clinton. Governor Gary Herbert scores 56% from the same sample in his re-election bid, however. In fact, another poll in Utah shows much the same kind of race.

If Trump is still neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in Utah three months after I first brought that to y’all’s attention, he’s going to get utterly and absolutely vaporized in just under five months.  Shinola, even poor ol’ Bob Dole carried the Mormon State by twenty-one points in 1996, and John McCain by twenty-nine a dozen years later, and those were the most desultory Republican efforts in the past half-century.

But then anybody who hasn’t drunk the Trump Kool-Aid has always known that he couldn’t win in November and that the point of his bid all along was to ensure the ascension of his good friend Commissar Thunderthighs.  The biggest threat of Trumpmania has always been the Whiggification of the GOP by the abject destruction of its brand by its subsumption into Trump’s corrupt, gutter-trash circus.  But if the party’s congressional majorities could survive Trumpageddon, so could the party itself, and perhaps the GOP civil war that demon-spawned it could be wound down in something resembling Lincolnesque, as opposed to Reconstructionesque, fashion.

Holding the Senate is still a long shot, but if Paul Ryan is still wielding the gavel next January and thus around to atone for his Trumpist sins, Trumpageddon will not have been, after all, an extinction level event.

Which simply means he’ll try again in 2020.  But one ELE at a time, I guess.

Mitch McConnell Bats .500

Mitch McConnell Bats .500

He got on base by nailing former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint in an interview with Newsmax TV….:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tells Newsmax TV that he slammed former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and the Senate Conservatives Fund that he founded in his new memoir because the group keeps “helping to nominate people who couldn’t win in November.”

 “We lost three races in 2010 in Delaware and Colorado — and in Nevada by nominating candidates who were simply unelectable in a general election,” McConnell, 74, the six-term Kentucky Republican, told “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth Friday in an exclusive interview. “Then, we did it again in Missouri and Indiana in 2012.”…
He calls DeMint a hypocrite who would be “almost submissive” in meetings with fellow legislators but then attack them in front of reporters.

I vented identical frustrations, on the same grounds, at hardstarboardblog.com and political pistachio at the time and for years afterwards.  Those five seats were low-hanging fruit and would have gotten the GOP within one seat of a filibuster-proof Senate majority in the 2014 mid-term elections.  Imagine four more Tea Party conservatives (the fifth would have been RINO Mike Castle of Deleware) in the upper chamber over the past year and a half; think those votes might have come in handy?

But let us not forget that Mitchie The Kid is a party man before he’s a conservative, which makes that last jab at DeMint more than a little ironic in light of his craven demurral of labeling Donald Trump’s remarks about Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge in the Trump University fraud lawsuit, as being the racist slurs they clearly are:

Todd: You know what he’s said about this Federal Judge that is overseeing this Trump University lawsuit. Um, he has called… he essentially said that he cannot be impartial because he’s Hispanic. That’s a… is that not a racist statement?

McConnell: I couldn’t disagree more with a statement like that.

Todd: Is it a racist statement?

McConnell: I couldn’t disagree more with what he had to say.

Todd: Okay, but, why… do you… do you think it’s a racist statement to say.

McConnell: I don’t agree with what he had to say. This is a man who was born in Indiana, all of us came here from somewhere else. Almost all Americans are near term immigrants like my wife who came here at age eight, not speaking a word of English, or the rest of us whose ancestors were risk takers, who got up from wherever they were and came here and made this country great. That’s an important part of what makes America work.

Todd: I want to read you something that Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator wrote for the Resurgent, he wrote it yesterday. “The attacks are racist. To claim that someone is unable to professionally perform his job because of his race is racism. And damn the GOP for its unwillingness to speak up on this. The party of Lincoln intends to circle its wagons around a racist. Damn them for that.” What do you say to Mr. Erickson?

McConnell: I think the party of Lincoln wants to win the White House. And the right-of-center world needs to respect the fact that the primary voters have spoken. Donald Trump has won the nomination the old fashioned way – he got more votes than anybody else. Is he the perfect candidate for a lot of us? Not.. he isn’t. But we have a two party system here, and Hillary Clinton is certainly not something that I think would be good for the country for another… to continue, basically, the Obama administration for another four years.

So McConnell disagrees with what Trump said about Judge Curiel but won’t say why he disagrees even though his filibustering of Chuck Todd’s invitation to state the obvious clearly indicates it is for that reason – that what Trump said was racist – and blandly calls for all Republicans and ex-Republicans, most especially us #NoneOfTheAbovers, to close ranks behind Trump anyway on the purported binary grounds that Hillary Clinton is somehow “even worse”.  Except that Trump is just as bad as the Empress, and at the very least spouts racist garbage on a regular basis.  And McConnell thinks Trump has a snowball’s chance of winning in November in the more or less complete absence of any compelling evidence for such forlorn hopes.

No, Senator, we do not have to respect the choice of a large minority of the GOP electorate.  And we will not evince that respect with our votes or absence of loud opposition.

But I suspect that McConnell agrees with us.  He simply does not have the luxury of publicly saying so so long as he chooses to put party before principle.  But he also knows that he’ll be Senate Minority Leader again dealing with President Rodham soon enough.

For Kentucky’s senior senator, it’ll be like coming home.