Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Taking Them With Him

As Donald Trump’s fortunes continue to sink, he’s also dragging down the Republicans’ chances of keeping the Senate.

Via Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight:

Six of the eight Republican candidates for Senate are polling worse than they were before the conventions. Nothing has changed in Florida, according to the polls. And Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio is the only Republican whose fortunes have improved. (That may be partially because he has a massive fundraising edge over his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland.) The biggest shifts have been in Illinois, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and in the latter two, the leader flipped.

Among the eight states, the most precipitous drop for both Trump and the GOP Senate candidate happened in New Hampshire, where Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte had led in most polls before the conventions. Since then, she has trailed in all fourpolls of the state that have been released. MassINC pollster Steve Koczela, who conducted one of the surveys in the New Hampshire average, had told me that Ayotte’s troubles are at least partially because of “how closely tied the Ayotte and Trump vote are” and that he saw that “as evidence that Trump is hurting her.”

Republicans have also seen their prospects worsen in Pennsylvania. Trump is now down 10 percentage points in the state, a headwind that may be too much for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey to overcome. Toomey, like Ayotte, had been leading in most polls before the conventions. But he has trailed in four of the five polls conducted since the conventions. Toomey’s slide, in particular, should worry Republicans. He has made it clear that he is not a Trump fan and has avoided appearing with Trump when he visits the Keystone State. And yet, their fates still seem tied. It may be that down-ballot Republicans can only do so much to keep themselves from getting swept up in an anti-Trump tide.

It’s too much to hope that the Democrats could pick up the House; the fix has been in since the Republicans gerrymandered all those safe districts after the 2010 census and they picked up all those state legislatures.  But the Senate is a different matter.  The Senate alone confirms cabinet appointments and Supreme Court judges, ratifies treaties, and basically keeps the House in check from doing crazy things like repealing Obamacare for the sixtieth time.

I’d love to have a clean sweep in November: The White House, the Senate, and the House all in Democratic hands, but two out of three ain’t bad.