So-called ‘Trump country’ prepares to give GOP candidates the heave-ho

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James Currie / Flickr Donald Trump Rally...
James Currie / Flickr

Journalists are finally catching on to the fact that all those voters they obsessed over in the Rust Belt, the so-called Trump Democrats, are poised to deliver some lethal blows to Republicans next month at the polls.

As we noted last week, the GOP has a real top-of-ticket problem in states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Michigan where GOP gubernatorial candidates are either solidly behind or even getting trounced. Even Republican incumbents who have a shot at re-election are encountering headwinds, such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and, not exactly Rust Belt, but Iowa’s Kim Reynolds.

Democratic Senate incumbents also appear to be handily cruising to re-election in the region, including Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, and Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin. The Washington Post writes of four Rust Belt states:

If current polling averages hold, Democrats will maintain all their Senate seats in those states, pick up a handful of House seats and, in some cases, retake the governors’ mansions.

GOP consultant John Brabender said the “false assumption” after 2016 was that “a Trump voter from the 2016 election was necessarily a Republican voter.” It also brings into question whether a one-time Trump voter is a forever Trump voter. Maybe, but maybe not.

Wisconsin Sen. Baldwin told the Post that what happened in 2016 was more about low turnout than it actually was about some sort of new Trump coalition.

“The story in Wisconsin in ’16 was actually a drop in voter participation that was unanticipated,” Baldwin said. “I have seen in the past two years, especially among issues that are deeply personal like health care, people realizing what’s at stake and they’ve been active and organizing. They are saying, ‘No more sitting on the sidelines.’ ”

The result of increased Democratic enthusiasm and Trump’s sagging approval ratings in the region has left a Senate map with far fewer pickup opportunities than Republicans imagined and a House map with many GOP candidates in tatters. Even the impenetrable Trump seems to know it. At an Erie, Pennsylvania, rally last week, Trump joked about talking GOP Rep. Lou Barletta into running to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Casey.

“I got him into this,” Trump said, adding that “the only bad thing” for Barletta was that “for the rest of his life, he could have been a congressman.”

Trump’s campaign swing through the Rust Belt and greater Midwest is clearly doing wonders for the GOP.

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