Republicans Who Worried Trump Would Wreck Their Party Were Even More Correct Than They Feared
Last night, in a deep red Georgia congressional district, progressive Democrat Jon Ossoff scored 48.1% in an open multi-party primary to replace right-wing Trumpist Tom Price-- 10 points better than the last Democrat who ran for that seat. The Republicans were all over the map and the top 3 GOP candidates combined only came to 39.4%. The Democrat was polling at around 43% on Friday across several polls but then Trump weighed in and Ossoff gained 5 points. Too bad Trump didn't weigh in sooner! Any Republican in Congress who doesn't recognize the warning, is headed for trouble-- or extinction. The new YouGov poll from The Economist shows that a strong majority of Americans across the partisan spectrum-- 75% of Democrats, 58% of independents and even 46% of Republicans-- want to see Medicare expanded to cover everyone's health insurance. That's a position significantly to the left of Obamacare. And it's diametrically opposed to what Ryan, Pence and Price tried to do with the first two disastrously failed iterations of TrumpCare.
Monday night Sen. Tom Cotton held a town hall in Little Rock. His constituents were confrontational over the GOP push to screw up the national healthcare system and Cotton "withstood 90 minutes of boos." Cotton felt compelled to swear to the audience that he will support Arkansas' expansion of Medicaid coverage under Obamacare.
My old friend from the DCCC, Jesse Ferguson, penned an OpEd for USAToday about how Trump has been further devaluing the already tarnished Republican brand. "We need look no further," he wrote "than the special election in Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District to see the warning signs: a Republican won by 7 points in a seat that Trump won by 27 points only six months ago. That’s a 20-point swing. By my count, there are 120 Republican-held congressional districts where Trump won by 20 or fewer points. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that Democrats are going to win all 120 of those seats in 2018-- but 120 Republican members of Congress probably didn’t sleep well last Tuesday night." Luckily for those 120 Republicans they know that Ferguson's former colleagues at the DCCC are sure to screw up most Democratic races, the same way they screwed up the one in Kansas last week. Still, Ferguson's point about Trump helping lead the already unpopular Republicans down the toilet is correct:
The problem is the party's legislative and political stumbles are piling up. For instance, they won the battle to get Justice Neil Gorsuch on to the Supreme Court, but the way they did it-- by depriving former President Barack Obama of an appointment and then overturning the Senate rules-- is the latest data point that leads them to lose the war. Gorsuch’s confirmation will be a distant memory by the 2018 midterm election campaign. What will last is the impression that Republicans in Congress will do anything it takes to get their way.Eric Levitz's piece for New York, Trump Is Making the GOP Heinously Unpopular Again point to a party with "nothing to offer the average voter" (other than the hatred and bigotry the GOP has become increasingly mired in to stay relatable to a segment of their populist base).
Part of that includes sticking with and protecting a compromised and unpopular president. Trump pushes Republicans to walk the plank for him on issue after issue, from health care repeal to budget cuts and much more, even if it hurts his own voters. And he expects them to defend him in self-inflicted scandal after scandal-- so much that they are coming dangerously close to being seen as accomplices in Trump’s sustained effort to hide his tax returns and ties to Russia. If that happens, they can wave goodbye to their control of Congress.
A Quinnipiac University survey this month shows the peril for Republicans in standing behind Trump. His job approval rating was negative by a staggering 22 points (35% approval compared to 57% disapproval). More alarmingly, 49% of the 57% who disapprove are people who “strongly” disapprove, while a meager 25% strongly approve. That 2-to-1 intensity ratio should jar anyone looking at the 2018 electorate.
Trump’s approval rating is tanking for the same reason that association with him is so dangerous for the GOP: He is losing on the key traits and qualities that matter most to ordinary people. He’s considered not honest by 27 points (61% to 34%), thought not to care about average Americans by 18 points (57% to 39%), found to be not level-headed by 37 points (66% to 29%), and believed not to share their values by 27 points (61% to 34%).
Voters certainly don’t believe that every Republican in Congress is a carbon copy of Trump. But a Congress filled with Trump apologists and rubber stamps, even if they’re not replicas, would be held just as responsible for the untold damage that he and his agenda would do to the country.
For as long as the GOP was in the opposition, this latter fact provided cover for the former one. Congressional Republicans could perform conservative purity for their base, while offering vague promises of “change” to the broader, dissatisfied public. And since Paul Ryan and company couldn’t actually pass their most heinously unpopular ideas into law, delivering for the tea-party crowd didn’t preclude appealing beyond it: In their fight against Obamacare, Republicans could equate Medicaid expansion with Stalinism to everyone on their email lists-- while attacking the law for cutting Medicare and failing to provide truly universal coverage to the general public.Democratic candidates are taking advantage of this overwhelming dysfunction now to go after their opponents. Today Tom Guild, whose Oklahoma City district would flip blue if Guild does even half as well as James Thompson did in KS-04 last week, went after knee-jerk Trump enabler Clyde Russell (AKA- "Steve"). Guild supports funding for Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act and he told OK-05 voters that "Russell is a militant warrior opposing the right of women to make their own intimate decisions, including their own health care decisions. He supports Big Brother Government Inference in these deeply personal areas of a woman’s life. Clyde was a co-sponsor and voted for HR7 mandating no taxpayer funds can be used for abortion. He also supported the Defund Planned Parenthood Act and has voted to take away services from women that are lifesaving and essential to their health and well-being. Clyde has voted numerous times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and place roadblocks to affordable healthcare options currently available to women. He supported the Hobby Lobby decision that allows employers to deny access to contraceptives to their workers. Clyde supports Trumpcare, that would once again make the cost of health care coverage more expensive for women and make the status of being a female a pre-existing condition."
This strategy worked well. Obamacare became deeply unpopular. And Republicans leveraged their base’s energy; Democrats’ complacency; white America’s rage at hearing instructions repeated in Spanish; and the public’s general appetite for change into full control of the federal government.
But now, Americans’ dissatisfaction with their government is no longer a crutch for the GOP, but a handicap. And fulfilling the party’s obligations to its base-- while stringing along swing voters with sweet nothings about a “better way”-- is much more difficult. Republicans tried to find a way to do both during the health-care-reform fight, and ended up alienating the party’s hard-liners and moderates alike. Americans finally discerned that the Republican alternative to Obamacare was a tax cut for the rich-- and, for the first time, Obama’s signature law became popular.
After three months in power, the GOP is hemorrhaging support. Before Donald Trump took office, Pew Research found that 47 percent of Americans approved of the Republican Party, while 49 percent disapproved. In Pew’s latest poll, those figures are 40 percent and 57 percent, respectively.
...Republicans can’t keep their promises to the American people, because they promised their base and the broader public very different things. Trump can’t honor his vow to achieve health care and pass a version of Obamacare repeal that his party would support. Nor can he pass a “middle-class tax cut,” when his party’s overriding priority is to alleviate the tax burden on the wealthy.
The GOP is a radical, reactionary party that has secured control of the federal government, despite a dearth of public support for its agenda. This is no small achievement. But now that they’ve got their grip on power, they can offer a majority of the American public one of two things: a status quo that voters find unsatisfying, or change they can’t believe in.
You can support Tom Guild by tapping on the ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right. Keep in mind that he has gone to his supporters with an iron-clad assurance that he "will emphasize a progressive/populist economic platform. That is the core of our message, and is a winning and broadly based strategy that resonates with the citizens of the fifth congressional district of Oklahoma. We also strongly support human rights and civil right." The DCCC has no interest in OK-05, no interest in Tom Guild and no interest in his progressive platform. Screw the DCCC; it's up to us to make this happen. If we wait for the DCCC and the DC Democrats, we'll be waiting forever.