Big in the world of the media right now, Matt Bevin’s loss in Kentucky is being played up as a major loss for Donald Trump. That he went in to try and help save Bevin’s re-election is apparently a major warning sign for Republicans! Panic must be setting in over at the GOP headquarters!
Except Republicans took two other statewide seats and swept the legislature. I can’t see a reason for them to panic. Trump couldn’t “save” Bevin? That’s an admission that Bevin had other flaws that voters didn’t like. The election wasn’t about Trump, who wasn’t involved from the beginning. Bevin was deeply, deeply unpopular and barely scraped by a primary, never mind the general.
There were other major losses for Republicans in suburbs in Pennsylvania, and other races around the country are showing major warning signs for Trump.
However, that is, I think, to be expected in the lead-up to 2020, especially with a President whose mere existence is divisive to so many. I think some Republican backlash is to be expected, and I think the Trump campaign will have to deal with it (and in running ads during the World Series and holding even more rallies than usual, I think they are starting to deal with it).
I am a bit biased living here, but I think that the real test for Trump, as I’ve said before, is right here in Louisiana.
The gubernatorial race here, between incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, is in many ways an experiment in replicating Trump’s success in 2016. Given the President’s involvement here in the gubernatorial campaign, I think Trump also realizes that this election – more than Kentucky or Pennsylvania – is a true test of the negatives against him.
Louisiana is deep red and deeply loyal to the President. He garnered more votes in 2016 than the two gubernatorial candidates in 2015 got combined. Rispone’s campaign from the start has been an attempt to make himself sound like Trump. He has referred to himself multiple times as an outsider, not a politician, against sanctuary cities, and has linked himself to Trump on many occasions.
The link has been so strong that his primary opponent, Congressman Ralph Abraham, started talking about his work with Trump and even Edwards referred more than once to his time spent working with the President on Louisiana issues. Trump himself sent surrogates AND brought himself to Louisiana in the days before the jungle primary.
Trump is coming to Louisiana twice this week to hold rallies for Rispone, and given election turnout last time, it could have an impact. So why is this related to Trump’s own re-election?
Because you can expect Republican blowback in the midwest and other areas that are frequently beset by temperamental partisan affiliations. Trump’s team will undoubtedly be worried about it, but not panicking. The panic will set in if Trump’s base isn’t turning out for him.
If Rispone loses in Louisiana, that would be a bigger sign of trouble for Trump than losing elections in the midwest. Republicans losing to a Democratic governor in the deep south would be devastating for Trump.
Currently, Rispone is running very close to Edwards, and there is some polling that suggests Rispone is ahead of Edwards. If that holds true and he wins, Rispone is beholden almost entirely to Trump because of how his campaign has been run. This is Trump’s race as much as it is Rispone’s.
And if Trump can’t win this race, I would start worrying about his re-election chances in 2020.