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The GOP Has A Big Fat Albatross Hanging Around Its Neck

With no legislative agenda— or at least not one that the public has any interest in supporting— Republicans seemed to think they would ride investigating Hunter Biden back into the majority. That looks like a bust. “[I]n the 2024 primary, the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden is falling flat. Instead, there is a growing recognition within some corners of the GOP— and among former President Donald Trump’s rivals, significantly— that the issue may not resonate as much as they once hoped, and that fixating on it could only help Trump… So far in the primary, they’re not spending much time on it— even amid a conservative media ecosystem that devotes segment after segment to allegations that Biden had profited from his son’s business dealings.” Trump’s projectionism has led him to accuse Biden and his family of everything he and his own family are guilty of. The Trump Crime Family is the most corrupt thing have ever hit the White House. So why not accuse Biden and his family of that exactly, even if there’s no evidence at all? Trump’s allies in Congress are glad to lend a hand. But it doesn’t go much beyond Traitor Greene, Gym Jordan, Boebert and Gaetz— all criminals themselves— plus poor, cornered McCarthy.

Yesterday, while we were watching the Rhode Island Democratic primary, there was also a Republican primary going on in UT-02. The winner of the Democratic primary in RI-1 (D+32 partisan lean) is guaranteed a seat in the House and the winner of the GOP Utah primary has almost as good a guarantee (R+23 partisan lean). What made this Utah race interesting was that it included a former state legislator and Trump critic— Becky Edwards— against two MAGAts, Celeste Maloy and Bruce Hough. In August Edwards was on TV and said that she’s “looking for a Republican who can win back the White House. I think it’s time that we have that shift. It’s early days in the presidential election cycle but I’m watching, as I think most Americans are right now, to look for all the candidates as they’re putting out their ideas.” That’s blasphemy enough in Trumpworld, but she also voted for Biden and supported the second impeachment. In 2020, Trump won the district with 56.7%, a slightly smaller percentage than any of the state’s other districts. Edwards raised the most money. It was neck and neck between Edwards and Maloy, with Edwards doing best in Salt Lake City and it's suburbs and Maloy winning the the St. George area (Washington County) and the rural counties. As of this morning, a fifth of the votes were still uncounted. But, regardless of who wins in the end-- and it is very likely to be Maloy-- less than 40% will have been won by the anti-Trump candidate, while the two MAGAts combined will have been backed by around 60% of the voters.

So here we are, back at the Trump kiss of death/Trump albatross story. How much damage will he do to GOP down-ballot candidates? Well, in Mississippi, none at all. And in deep red districts round the country, he’s even a plus. But in swing districts where Republicans need independent voters and mainstream conservatives, Trump at the top of the ticket could be a problem, especially if NeverTrump voters stay home on Election Day. Just ask GOP incumbents like Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), whose district Trump lost by 18.2 points, Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), whose district Trump lost by 11 points, Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), whose district Trump lost by 14.6 points, David Valadao (R-CA), whose district Trump lost by 16.4 points, Mike Garcia (R-CA), whose district Trump lost by 18.8 points, Mike Lawler (R-NY), whose district Trump lost by 10.7 points, Tom Kean (R-NJ), whose district Trump lost by 7 points, Michelle Steel, whose district Trump lost by 10.9 points or even districts where it was much closer like in Arizona where Trump lost David Schweikert’s district by 2.3 points and Juan Ciscomani’s district by 1.5 points.

Yesterday, Tom LoBianco reported that “Republicans have quietly been coming to grips with the likelihood that Donald Trump will keep winning the Republican nomination until he dies if he doesn’t retake the White House next year— and either outcome could cost the GOP down-ballot. It’s a grim sort of arrested development for Republicans, with Trump positioned as a modern-day Adlai Stevenson, Democrats’ losing nominee in 1952 and 1956. The worry is that Trump’s baggage and bombast will disincentivize center-right and independent voters from participating in general elections, with repercussions down the ballot— reversing the old coattails rule of politics, which holds that a strong name at the top of the ticket lifts all boats in the party. But in the inverted world operatives are bracing for, it’s Trump’s name forever sinking their boats in statewide battles by depressing voter turnout. ‘’24, ’28, ’32. Probably until he dies,’ said one veteran Republican strategist, bearing a glum look.”

[A] veteran activist cited the ritzy suburb of Atlanta, Johns Creek, as one example where otherwise solid Republicans who soured on Trump after January 6th will probably just stay home this election. “They voted for Biden and (Georgia Gov. Brian) Kemp. They don’t like Biden, but he is less icky (than Trump). But if they don’t have Kemp (on the ballot) maybe they don’t turn out at all.”
…In a side meeting at a “cattle call” of Republican candidates in Atlanta last month, one conservative leader described gathering with other top activists discussing the 2024 playing field. At the outset, nobody mentioned the name of the former president, but once one person did, the worries poured forth: Trump will depress the suburban vote for Republicans. Women will stick with Democrats. Trump’s fired-up base of diehards and populists will keep carrying him over the line in Republican primaries and “normie” Republicans will keep staying home— they won’t vote for Democrats, but they won’t vote Trump either.
All of which could crush other Republicans running, these conservative operatives say.
“We’re worried about Cruz’s re-election chances,” the conservative leader told The Messenger. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will appear on the ballot the same as Trump (most likely) in Texas. The group that gathered in Georgia is concerned that swaths of moderate and center-right voters in the state’s expansive suburbs will take a powder, leaving Cruz and other Texas Republicans hanging.
It’s the same problem Republican veterans stared down seven years ago when it became clear Trump would be their nominee— movement conservatives and quieter Midwestern evangelicals, unlike their fiery Southern Baptist cousins, wouldn’t vote for Clinton, but they wouldn’t vote for Trump either. The falloff in support would have hurt GOP chances across the board, trying to win control of the House and Senate and governor’s races across the country.
Republicans have underperformed expectations three elections in a row now.
A “blue wave” of support in 2018 carried Democrats to power in the House, leading to Trump’s first impeachment. Two years later, just a day before Trump’s supporters sacked the Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results, a pair of Republican senators lost in Georgia, handing control of the chamber to Senate Democrats. And in 2022, support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis built fast after Trump’s handpicked candidates lost heavily in critical swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Republicans who held their breath while Trump was in office have become increasingly exasperated, but there doesn’t seem to be any way of stopping him from winning. Trump’s strong plurality of MAGA voters appears unbeatable, and Trump’s tight-knit campaign team has been quietly rewriting the party rules in the states to make it even harder to challenge him.
…The day after Trump was arrested in Georgia and the first criminal mugshot of a former president was posted online– which Trump’s team said they then used to raise $7.1 million from their supporters– Erick Erickson, a veteran conservative radio host and Trump critic on the right, said Trump detracts from the party’s chances writ large.
“Sure, there’s a political agenda against him with these prosecutions, but also to help him secure the Republican nomination,” Erickson wrote in his newsletter. “The Democrats know for him to win, Republicans must spend money that could otherwise be spent to secure the Senate and save the House. The return on investment to get Trump across the finish line could be so high that we can’t take the Senate or hold the House. That, then, would cost us more.”
The proxy for these concerns has been a drying up of small-dollar donations to candidates not named Trump.
The RNC has seen a downturn. Other campaigns have been unable to turn on the spigot of digital donations which used to flow like milk and honey but now has turned into a desperate trickle. And infighting in state Republican parties between Trump loyalists and veteran party members across the country has undercut efforts to win back offices in critical battleground states from Arizona to Michigan.
When the GOP suffered sweeping losses in Obama’s 2012 re-election, it commissioned an “autopsy” with recommendations for how the party could get back in the business of winning. Much attention was paid to the longterm need for the GOP to win over conservative Latino voters, but the party also built a voter-turnout juggernaut which overhauled the way Republicans got their supporters to show up at the polls.
A decade later, after Trump’s handpicked candidates lost big to Democrats in critical battleground states, the RNC commissioned another “autopsy”— but this time the report was never released publicly and didn’t name the name of its most powerful player, Trump.
"As the party becomes Trump-ified, you see it almost like a sun when it goes nova,” Matthew Continetti, a historian of the American right, said on MTP Now Thursday. “It collapses in on itself.”

1 Comment

Sep 06, 2023

trump is the albatross that enables the nazis to defeat feckless corrupt pussy democraps. meathead probably too. maybe even ramasmarmy. because all 75 million (or more) will vote for their nom and there is no guarantee that more than that will bother to vote at all against them.

note: given the state layout, the nazi could lose the popular vote by 8-10 million and STILL win on electors... or the coup... or the supremes.

it's an all or nothing shithole any more. if the nazis split congress, nothing gets done and everyone shrieks loudly. if the nazi wins the fuhrer's residence without one or both chambers, nothing THAT bad gets done and everyone shrieks loudly. If the democrap wins …

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