Friday, May 15, 2020

We Must Face the Truth: The Republicans Are Actually in Pretty Bad Shape

There's no way to sugar-coat this: the GOP is likely headed for a very bad election this November. I know, I know, don't jinx it, nothing's for certain, lockdown backlash plus anti-China fervor plus a modest economic rebound could reset the election....I get it. We're all nervous. But still....the data are the data and sober nonpartisan political analysts are duly processing it and informing us of what it implies. Like Josh Kraushaar of National Journal::
"The current political environment is reminiscent of 2008, two years after Democrats swept control of the House and Senate under President George W. Bush. It’s mostly remembered for Barack Obama’s historic election, but the Democrats’ downballot dominance was just as remarkable. Riding deep dissatisfaction with GOP leadership, Democrats expanded their Senate majority to a near filibuster-proof margin and won House seats in some of the most reliably conservative territory in the country.
Like the political environment today, the 2008 election took place in the middle of a national crisis. Back then, the Republican presidential nominee insisted that the fundamentals of the country were strong during a deepening recession. Now a Republican president is publicly insisting he has “met the moment” and prevailed, despite rising death rates and massive unemployment from the coronavirus. Then, as now, a Democratic challenger used the GOP candidate’s own words in devastating attack ads."
Or Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report:
"Democrats retaining their House majority is practically a done deal. House Editor Dave Wasserman reports that now the chances are about the same of Republicans having a net loss of a few seats about the same as gaining a few.
Normally after a 40-seat loss, recapturing at least a few would seem almost inevitable, but as David’s May 6 overview points out, that is not necessarily the case this year.
Not long ago, GOP chances of maintaining their control of the Senate looked to be about two out of three, but Senate Editor Jessica Taylor's reporting since March shows that Republican Senate majority is getting more precarious and now control appears to be a 50-50 proposition. Now with popular Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging GOP incumbent Steve Daines in Montana, newly-appointed Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler mired in a horrific political situation and the possibility that Republicans could draw an exceedingly weak candidate in what should be a safe seat in Kansas (filing deadline June 1), among other problems adding to previous woes with incumbents Martha McSally in Arizona, Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis all in races that are, at best, toss ups.
Combine those two Congressional situations with a recession that has effectively eliminated any tailwind that President Trump had been enjoying from a strong economy and it is hard to see his re-election prospects looking anything but more dire by the week. Today there is more than a one-in-three chance that Democrats will win a trifecta in November, the White House, the Senate and the House. The policy and governing implications are enormous."
Or David Byler of The Washington Post:
"President Trump bungled the coronavirus crisis. Before the pandemic hit, his administration failed to purchase an adequate number of ventilators. Throughout the crisis, Trump’s public statements have ranged from revisionist and distracted to conspiratorial and outright dangerous (remember the supposed joke about injecting disinfectant?). And he’s pushing to reopen the economy, even though health experts have warned that relaxing restrictions too early could lead to unnecessary deaths.
It would be reasonable to expect Trump’s poll numbers to drop like a rock after this sort of mismanagement. But instead his approval rating is stable at around 44 percent — roughly where it was before the virus hit.
That’s because Trump is likely still in the middle of a grace period: Voters aren’t holding him fully accountable for the damage caused by the virus. If Trump can right the ship or simply elongate this reprieve, that might be enough for him to win reelection. But presidential history suggests that even a norm-defying president like Trump can’t escape the pull of basic political gravity. Voters might be willing to give a leader leeway in a crisis, but they won’t extend that credit indefinitely."
Obviously nothing should be taken for granted here (2016!) but perhaps it's time to start thinking big about November and its aftermath.
The odds of a big blue wave sweeping Democrats to power are growing, with even red-state Republicans growing nervous about their political position.

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