DESPERATION: The Scramble Is On to Save the Down Ballot From the Trump Effect

Caricature by DonkeyHotey

No, this isn’t coming too late, at all. We’ve got a whole two months until the election.

The RNC is finally catching on to the fear that many have been expressing throughout the disastrous candidacy of Trump: He’s going to hurt the down ballot.


Nearly a dozen GOP strategists said in interviews this week that they are taking steps to buttress Republicans in strongholds where private polling shows Trump — his recent uptick in public surveys notwithstanding — is threatening to drag down candidates running beneath him.

The Republican Governors Association in recent days has quietly funneled $1.5 million to Indiana and $3.5 million to Missouri, where Republican gubernatorial candidates are confronting tough races.

Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative outside group with ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has reserved a combined $6.5 million worth of TV ads in those two states — neither of which was initially thought to be a major Senate battleground.

In areas that Mitt Romney carried during his bid, such as southern Indiana, the National Republican Congressional Committee have ordered new polling.

It’s as if they know it’s going to be bad, but they don’t know how bad.

I’ve expressed similar concerns multiple times. Most who have been paying attention are of the same frame of mind. I would have liked to have seen the top brass react a bit quicker in attempts to save the down ballot races. Instead, they wanted to milk the dead cow at the top of the ticket.

Dead cows don’t give milk. Just an FYI for any RNC high muckity-mucks that might stumble across this piece.


“Right now in some ways it’s the fear of the unknown,” said Erik Iverson, a Republican pollster who is working on a variety of races. “What is this electorate going to look like in November? Who’s going to turn out, and who are they going to turn out for at the top of the ticket?”

What has Republicans most on edge is Trump’s lack of support in suburban areas — particularly among women, millennials and those with a college degree. In recent weeks, party operatives have begun to monitor the reelection bid of Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, whose seat encompasses a swath of Kansas City and its suburbs. While the district tilts Republican, they have reason to worry Trump could become a problem there. In August, Yoder released an internal survey showing him with a double-digit lead over his Democratic opponent while Trump trailed Hillary Clinton in the district.

In a conservative Arizona congressional district that takes in part of the northern Tucson suburbs, meanwhile, party pollsters say they’ve discovered that Trump’s precarious standing with female voters could hurt them.

Trump has actively sought to alienate those key voting blocs. In fact, there’s nothing in his background or his present that should be attractive to anyone but rich, Manhattan elitists.

And Democrats.

“My biggest concern is for otherwise relatively safe, though competitive, Republicans in suburban districts,” said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster who advises a number of candidates in conservative areas. “They’re going to face the perfect storm of well-educated Republican and conservative independent voters who are turned off by Trump, active courting of those voters by Clinton to make it OK to vote Democrat or just to stay home, and a total lack of national data or assistance in identifying and turning those voters out.”


Those voters who are just so disillusioned by what our choices at the top of the ticket are a legitimate concern. There’s so much focus on the presidential race, many who just can’t bring themselves to vote for either candidate may stay home. That highlights the need to bring more attention to the rest of the ticket. They need to be inspired to show up on November 8th to support those candidates who actually can make a difference in their positions.

It isn’t just Trump’s public image that threatens to impede Republicans running down-ballot; Trump’s failure to develop political infrastructure could also become an anchor. While congressional and state-level contenders — including those running in red territory — typically rely on presidential nominees to bring Republican voters out to the polls, this year they won’t be able to.

The RGA’s transfer to Indiana and Missouri, much of which is being directed to get-out-the-vote efforts, reflects the growing urgency. It marks the first time since 2010 that the organization has made a substantial investment in field deployment. That year, it stepped in because the Republican National Committee was destitute.


How can that be? Trump is charging them four times the rent on his campaign office in his own building for his own campaign, and paying himself back from campaign funds on “loans” he made to himself.


He’s not paying staffers. That should be saving a few bucks, right?

Seriously, Trump is experiencing a personal windfall from this campaign, so how are the RNC “destitute”?

Parasite: noun


an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.


a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

Yes. That second definition should spark some recognition, in regards to this election year.

“The lack of any real effort by Trump to build a political infrastructure is going to hurt all of our candidates in close races,” said Wilson. “The Democrats’ advantage in data and ground-game organization is going to be even bigger this year than in recent years not because of technical ability this time, but because the presidential campaign which is supposed to be the hub of that effort is almost totally ignoring it.”

Others, like Sen. John McCain, in Arizona and Eric Schmitt, in Missouri, are putting together their own ground game, tapping into their own resources, and doing the work themselves.

While not all are convinced that Trump will have a long-reaching, damaging effect on the down ballot races, none are willing to risk it.

“It’s a unique year for sure, with very different coalitions developing,” said Nicole McCleskey, a Republican pollster who has advised a number of gubernatorial and congressional candidates, adding that it is “forcing down-ballot campaigns to work harder and smarter to navigate and win.”


It should have been an easy, walk-away election season for Republicans. After eight years of Obama, the ads would write themselves.

Instead, the GOP are busy trying to prop up a disastrous, billionaire charity case, while simultaneously putting out his near-daily public relations fires.

That’s no way to win elections.



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