US News: Running Away from Trump

I spoke to Susan Milligan of US News about President Trump’s effect on the down-ballot races.

On the House side, Democrats hold 31 seats in districts Trump won in 2016, notes GOP operative Liam Donovan, and the GOP’s plan to retake the House hinges on picking up those seats.

“Trump is the linchpin of this plan and, if he can reprise his 2016 performance, it’s very much in play. But in an environment where Biden wins by 9 or 10, as polls currently show, Trump may only carry a handful of them at best. In that scenario, not only does he lack coattails, but he could cost Republicans seats they managed to hang onto during the 2018 wave,” adds Donovan, a former finance director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee who is now a principal at Bracewell LLP, a legal and government relations firm.

But the map for Biden is widening, making such scenarios harder for Republicans, experts note. Early this year, it appeared that Wisconsin was going to be tough for Biden, with Michigan and Pennsylvania still battlegrounds and Florida more favorable to the GOP. Republicans had hoped their own map would expand to include Minnesota and New Hampshire, states Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

But now, polling and political handicappers have broadened the battlegrounds to include North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and even the GOP’s longtime behemoth, Texas.

“At the end of the day, a rising presidential tide lifts all boats – and the same is true in the other direction. With Arizona and North Carolina as toss-ups, those senators need to hold virtually every Trump voter to have a chance,” Donovan says.

“And with states like Iowa, Georgia and Texas showing signs of being in play, the next tier of Senate races is starting to come online. In virtually all of these instances, the president and down-ballot Republicans will be politically co-dependent.”

With a president himself desperately in need of a boost, the Senate boats are in rough waters.

Read the full piece here.

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