How Will Trump Affect a Vulnerable GOP Senate?
Let’s imagine for a moment that Harry Reid lost his 2010 reelection bid. He wouldn’t have been the Majority Leader who effectively dismantled the US Senate. He couldn’t have protected the boundary-breaking Obama Administration. He wouldn’t have enabled Obama’s agenda, nor could he have shielded the President from dangerous bills that would have forced White House vetoes, humiliating Democrats. Obama would have been hamstrung, unable to fulfill his campaign promise to fundamentally transform the United States.
Maddeningly, Harry Reid was very beatable in 2010. Nevadans disdain Reid, a backwater politico who used his elected offices to gorge on the taxpayer teat, enriching himself and his family. Nevada’s conservative primary voters elected Tea Party darling Sharron Angle to run against the highly unpopular Reid. Barely known beyond Silver State political circles, Angle was a disastrous candidate and the best thing to happen to MSNBC since the divine comedy of Keith Olbermann.
Angle’s daily “misstatements” were stunning, if only for her total lack of media savvy. For example, she intimated that “Second Amendment remedies” might ensue if “Congress keeps going the way it is.” The comment, worthy of a drunken redneck bar rant, was chopped, spliced, and replayed ad nauseam every night in the mainstream media. Giddy journalists reprinted her bipolar ramblings with glee.
Before the Angle debacle, Reid was not supposed to have won that election. He was so loathed that even running against a disastrous candidate, he barely eked out victory. The rest is history. Thanks to Nevada’s primary voters, America is worse off – because they preferred the purity of a Tea Party candidate who had no business being on the national stage.
Republicans now hold a 54-46 majority in the Senate. In 2016, they will have to defend 24 seats. Democrats must only defend ten. Democrats will be working overtime to win four or five seats. (The vice-president votes in a tie, so the number they need for a majority depends who wins the White House.) Lower-turnout midterms tend to be Republican-friendly, but in a presidential election cycle, Democrats tend to gain larger turnouts by scaring minorities, youths, and single women into the voting booth. Their winning causam? Female genitalia in the Oval Office (assuming Hillary will still be the nominee).
Democrats are already using this tired game plan, focusing on identity issues including “the war on women.” Taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood has begun launching ads against vulnerable GOP Senators:
The ads will run in the home states of Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), all of whom face tough reelection races next year.
GOP campaigns play it safe, always playing defense. When a candidate — including the predictably unpredictable Trump — starts making speeches about gender issues, he’s playing on the opponent’s turf. After first saying he supported defunding Planned Parenthood, he is now placating Planned Parenthood.
I’m not a political consultant, just a voter, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned so far in this election cycle, it’s that voters respond to straight talk. Don’t placate special interest groups: It looks like you’re pandering. Just speak from the heart, ensure your ad dollars convey your conservative vision, and tell us why the country needs it.
This summer’s stunning Trump insurgency may not last into the autumn of 2016, when most voters start to make their decisions. But Trump’s addition to the voting equation has made an already perilous GOP campaign cycle completely unpredictable.
Will his name on the ballot hurt or help the GOP undercard?