As most of you who drop in to visit me regularly know, I live is Vegas. And though I never play anything other than penny slots anymore, I know a gamble when I see one. And the GOP Senate is taking an interesting gamble in the upcoming midterms.
I wrote previously about how The Dumbbell Diktator has found himself a new fix. Trump has discovered that going out to campaign for other Republicans is the perfect way to hold a campaign rally for himself, without actually having to pay for renting the hall, and all the other peripheral shit. This was on full display when he rallied for Rick Saccone in PA-18. So much so that if he has his way, he is going to accomplish the unthinkable, and spend more time on the road than he does at his golf resorts, which is nice, because it will give the White House custodial staff plenty of time to clean up his inevitable messes.
But the problem is that, especially after the debacle of PA-18, most House incumbents view this as quite possibly the worst plague since typhus. But where as the GOP House incumbents are all hiding under their beds, clutching their teddy bears and staring in abject terror at the closet door, Senate GOP candidates are already sending him engraved invitations.
Politico is reporting that the RSCC is going to be leaning heavily on Trump this year to not only help hold serve in seats held by incumbents, few of which are in actual danger, but also to help turn the tide in states Trump won that have Democratic incumbents;
Republicans will lean most heavily on Trump in five deeply conservative states where the president remains highly popular and where he crushed Hillary Clinton: West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana. But they say they will also deploy Trump in the next tier of swing states that Trump won more narrowly: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. And they expect him to help preserve GOP seats in Nevada, where he narrowly lost, and in Arizona.
This is an interesting gambit for the Republicans to take, and quite possibly riskier than they seem to understand. For starters, as Trump proved in PA-18, a Trump rally for another GOP congressional candidate tends to end up kind of like an Air Supply reunion concert tour. All of their greatest hits, but if you’re tired of those, nothing new to get you out to the record store. A prime example of this is that Trump loves to beat his flabby chest about his incredible tax cut law, but the GOP had to stop running advertising about it because it wasn’t resonating.
Here’s another potential problem. Rallies where His Turdship is appearing tend to bring out one thing, his rabid base. And while this is great for his ego fulfillment, there is as yet no evidence that getting his base to give up an evening of a “Pimp My Ride” marathon will do anything to get those base voters to do it again and get them out to the polls for an election where his name is not in gilt on the ballot. What I’d like to see is a few primaries with multiple Trumpistas running close together, let him pick one and hold a rally, and see if that candidate blows the rest of the field away, or barely scrapes by or even worse, loses.
West Virginia highlights another potential problem. Trump campaigned heavily in rural states about bringing back coal and steel bigly. This is a blatant lie, but the suckers went for the head fake. Trump also campaigned heavily on bringing steel back to it’s former glory. PA-18 is home to both coal mining and steel production, yet Trump’s august presence wasn’t enough to bring them out in sufficient numbers to turn the tide in a district he won by 20. By the time November rolls around, Trump will have been in office nearly two years. If coal ad steel jobs haven’t come back, and they won’t, people who voted for Trump may not vote for a Democrat to punish him, but they may well just stay home. If Trump shows up in West Virginia, you just know that he’s gonna brag about bringing back all of those coal jobs, which local residents will know full damn well hasn’t happened, but he can’t stop lying, and they’ll finally realize how they’ve been suckered. Kind of hard to blame Democrats when the GOP holds all the power.
Here’s the basic problem with Trump’s favorite boondoggle, his vaunted tax cut law. Trump’s strongest states are mostly rural states, which being rural, also tend to have lower average wages. Trump bragged endlessly that families making $60,000 a year would see huge increases in their paychecks, a lot of people in those states don’t make anywhere near $60,000, and they’re going to feel cheated. While that secretary in Paul Ryan’s district may be thrilled at an extra $1.50 a week, for everybody else, that won’t get them one vente mocha latte a week from Starbucks. And while some of these states may be red enough to survive, states with more urban populations will not only see Democrats enthused to come out and vote in opposition to Trump, but those GOP families making $40,000-60,000 may be feeling less than enthused about their tax cuts, and just sty home, or even worse, switch sides. Don’t forget, in both Alabama and PA-18, as well as in the Virginia state elections, the GOP saw alarming erosion in the typically GOP strongholds of urban suburbs, largely by white suburban women.
The GOP is also counting on the Toddler in Chief helping them hold vulnerable seats in Arizona and Nevada. This may be a fools errand. In Nevada, Dean Heller is almost universally loathed. His waffling on healthcare showed him to be less than faithful to Trump for the NV Trumbies, and his vote for dismantling healthcare didn’t go over well in a state where the Governor was one of the first GOP Governors to accept the Medicaid expansion. Heller is going to have a nasty primary from Danny Tarkanian, a desert lowlife that nonetheless has a nasty habit of winning primaries before going on to lose the general election. And In Arizona, while McCain cruised, and Trump narrowly won, his greatest fan, Joe “Pink Undies” Arpaio got his head handed to him. Both states are getting increasingly browner, and a well tuned minority registration grassroots, followed by an aggressive GOTV effort could doom the GOP to defeat in both.
The only bright spot for the GOP in this pickle they find themselves in is that there is still time for them The real action is not going to start until after the 4th of July. If Trump’s popularity ratings stay mired in the mid to upper 30’s, and/or if Mueller starts announcing indictments from deeper in the White House, there is still time for the GOP to change their minds. The problem with this is that nobody tells Trump what to do. If he decides that he wants to show up and campaign for you, he’s going to goddamn do it, and if you don’t show up, you can kiss his supporters goodbye, you stupid ingrate! Now that Glorious Bleater has the campaign bit well and truly between his teeth, as a method of self gratification, the GOP is going to be hard pressed to stop him.
One more thing I’d like to bring up. In almost every cycle when they’re up for reelection, Manchin, Heitkamp, and McCaskill are all but given up for dead by the Democrats, and yet, there they are, still firmly in place. And in the age of Trump, the GOP is going to be even more susceptible to candidates like Todd Aiken and Christine O’Donnell than they were when “sane” GOP leadership was in place. And in places where Trump is the strongest, so is the likelihood of larval Trumps hatching into deaths-head moths in the primaries, and being basically unelectable in the general election. Let’s wait and see who we’re actually running against before we start to panic, shall we?