The political climate for Republicans is bad and getting worse. That stubborn bug continues to upend politics, bedeviling Republican Senate candidates even in supposedly “safe” GOP states. What was once a long shot for Democrats — taking control of the Senate — now appears to be more promising.
It’s tempting to blame it all on Trump’s relative unpopularity and strong feelings of fear for the future. The nation is in turmoil with the coronavirus making a comeback and racial strife overthrowing the status quo. Economic uncertainty among American families is only adding to a sense of things being out of control.
So it’s not surprising that less than 4 months from election day 2020, that the party in power is getting the blame for everything.
If voters really blamed Trump for the current disaster, Joe Biden would be ahead by 20 points. He’s not, which leads us to believe there are other factors at work in this election cycle — factors that can turn toward Republicans as quickly as they turned against them.
It’s an axiom that voters don’t really start making up their minds until after Labor Day. That’s not entirely true today with the polarization of the electorate. But some of the latest polls show a larger than average group of undecided or “persuadable” voters. And Trump’s 74 percent support from Republicans at this point, shows the president with a higher ceiling than Biden. Once those Republicans “come home” — and history suggests they will — Trump will be in much better shape.
In the end, those Republicans who aren’t currently supporting Trump will likely hold their nose and vote for the president because, well, look at the alternative. A weak, cognitively suspect candidate backed by radical socialists, liberals, and resentful minorities who see the opportunity for loot and payback.
But right now, prospects for the GOP look bleak.
As Joe Biden has grown a significant lead over Trump in the race for the White House, the Senate battleground has improved for Democrats down the ballot, including Inside Elections rating changes in eight races.
Some states, such as Colorado, Arizona, Maine and North Carolina, have been competitive for the entire cycle. But previously lower-tier contests in Iowa, Montana and Georgia are now hosting neck-and-neck Senate races. And Kansas, Texas, and even Alaska and South Carolina can’t be considered solid for Republicans anymore. That gives Democrats more than one legitimate path.
Republican candidates are getting slaughtered in the fundraising race, being outraised in some contests 3-1. Democrats and their media allies smell blood in the water and are mercilessly attacking GOP incumbents, trying desperately to connect them to Trump.
Democrats need a net gain of 3 seats to effect a Senate takeover and the road to a majority now has several avenues.
Looking at the big picture, multiple Republican incumbents are either already trailing or hovering in the low 40s against their challengers. Of course, the races aren’t over, and these vulnerable senators can win, particularly when tens of millions of dollars in television ads are still yet to be aired. But to say those senators have a significant advantage is overstating their prospects.
The latest ratings have Republicans losing 3-5 seats in November. It sounds like a disaster but if this was going to be a “wave” election, those numbers would be far higher. The bottom line is that Trump and the Republicans are down but far from out. They have their own war chests and have yet to unleash their primary lines of attack. Once they do, those numbers are certain to narrow and by October, I would guess it will be anyone’s race to win or lose.