Wednesday, March 09, 2016


I keep hearing that, in addition to ensuring a Democratic presidential victory, Donald Trump's nomination will destroy the Republican Party, or at least win the Senate for the Democrats. And while I believe Trump is a very weak general election candidate -- in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll he loses to Hillary Clinton by 13 points, and to Bernie Sanders by 18 -- I don't believe he's going to take the rest of the party with him.

Consider another result in that poll:

Trump, according to this poll, would lose a general election badly -- but only 8% of poll respondents think he's representative of the Republican Party; 61% think "he represents something different that is harmful for the Republican Party," while 27% think "he represents something different that is positive for the Republican Party."

So if he continues to alienate people outside his base, a lot of voters won't associate him with the rest of the GOP. In fact, I wonder if the real point of the "Never Trump" campaign is not so much to prevent his nomination as to keep the stink of Trump off the rest of the party.

If so, judging from this poll, it's working.

So don't assume that Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk, and other vulnerable senators running for reelection are going to be tainted by Trump. The GOP is doing a good job of quarantining Trumpism and disassociating itself from Trump in the public's mind.

But what about the Supreme Court? Won't the Senate blockade hurt Republicans in November? Well, consider this result from the same poll:

Yes, more people believe a nominee should be voted on, but it's not a majority -- 48% want a vote, but 51% either favor the blockade or have no opinion.

And, because Americans are endlessly told that Both Sides Do It, there's this:

By more than a two-to-one margin, respondents think Democrats would do exactly what Republicans are doing if the party situation were reversed.

(I'm sure Democrats would set a high bar for a nominee, but if 1988 is any indication, they'd be willing to approve someone, and they'd certainly hold hearings and allow a vote.)

I know, I know: This is just one poll. But I'm just reminding you that the GOP really could survive all this with no more than a presidential loss. And then we'd be pretty much where we are right now.


AllieG said...

Some of the Republicans will lose on their own and would do so no matter who's the nominee on their own records. Johnson will, and I bet Kirk will too. It's way too soon to tell what any Trump downticket effect or lack thereof will exist until the Senators have to start running with him as the nominee.

Raymond Smith said...

Everyone has an opinion. I prefer to wait until after all votes are counted to express my opinion on this matter. To many predicting to many variable outcomes. The polling has been far from accurate on several occasions. Thus, the best poll is the actual votes cast in November.

sdhays said...

That's certainly possible, perhaps even probable. But this is before Trump is the actual Republican nominee and before the Democrats start attacking him and all Republicans for their association with him. A campaign still has to happen, a campaign where a big segment of the Republican Party is letting its freaky flag fly. The potential is there to trigger a landslide. But we're not there yet, and the Democrats don't have a great recent history of knowing how to actually mobilize against this nonsense. Having leading Democrats working to defang the CFPB doesn't help.

Blackstone said...

Perhaps, but McConnell is concerned about the Trump effect.

jsrtheta said...

A general, national poll cannot hope to answer this question. The vulnerable senators are facing the voters of their states, not the whole electorate. And the voters in those states will have many issues with which to either agree or disagree on with those senators.

I agree Trump likely won't have much effect. But the poll questions about "senators" (like unnamed, unknowable abstractions) tell us nothing. And the more relevant polling I've seen, polling on individual senators in their states and using their names, does not match the findings here.

Feud Turgidson said...

IMO Steve M., who I think can be and usually is terrific (I mean this in a genuine, sincere, definitely not-Drumpfian sense.), has this tendency to frequently open the splits too wide on the infinitives ... oh, crap: that's me! I'll start again ...
has this tendency to give his Chicken Little a bit too much free run time. Sure, it can be mouth-watering-ly organic - but have you ever actually watched what birds peck at?

We have a big dog who when we let him out for some alone time in the back yard has his business attract corvids like their full of undigested truffles and filet mignon (which, to a bird, they kinda are). I don't say it's bad for the given BIRD, but it's not actually conducive to what most non-desperate humans would regard as MM-mm finger lickin' good-tastin' bird meat.

There's 8 months left to go. Between now and then, it's flat out guaranteed by the laws in force in his universe that more shit's gonna happen, but the same laws limit our ability to predict them with much practical or any really reliable accuracy. People will die; folks will get sick; stoopid stuff will get said.

I agree that there's actually not much historical evidence in support of down ticket races tracking presidential general election contents, but there is SOME: just look at 1932, 1964, 1994. Those were about 30 years apart: we're still maybe 2 cycles short of the big one. In between the shifts are all short term and largely ephemeral, and systemic advantages like official state gerrymandering, vote suppression, and counting shenanigans tend to work against big landslides.

(I also think we should all just get past the idea that 2006 was any kind of a "change" election in Congress. That year, the Dems took the House and Senate due to the BLUE DOGS phenomenon, where R-leaning rural and suburban whites went D because Dubya and Big Dick had let them down on Iraq in general and WMDs in particular [Torture, IMO, wasn't the big issue for the BD's - it was LOSING that was the problem for them, just like with Drumpf supporters now.)

But this is potentially Good News, because HRC is, per her own admission, no Obama-level inspiring speech maker or wit or strategic pol. The Ds have a decent shot at around 8 purple state Senate seats and we'll see how that goes; but we have to look at each one individually and forget about the POTUS effect, because that sure didn't do the Ds any good in 2012 or the two mid-terms.

petrilli said...

Elizabeth Warren just made a valuable speech tying 7 years extremism in the senate directly to the 2 extremist Republican candidates they're stuck with now. It's a perfect template for anyone who goes on the tee vee to wail on the Trump/Cruz political paradigm, especially when dealing with moderators who treat the two subjects as unrelated. The speech is on C&L blog and it's worth a listen.

biz5th said...

Republicans have spent many election cycles trying to nationalize virtually all elections, but especially Congressional ones. As Steve M pointed out a few days ago, almost every scenario for the Republican Convention is disastrous for the GOP.

It will be very hard for a Congressional candidate to run away from the Party's presidential nominee.