Trump is definitely not making life easier for Republicans.
As a possible sign of what is to come, incumbent Republican congresswoman Renee Ellmers was the first down-ballot GOP candidate to be endorsed by Donald Trump. Trump even recorded a robocall for her. But she was crushed in the North Carolina primary last weekend, far behind the winner and barely squeaking by the third-place finisher.
This indicates that dislike of Trump will severely damage down-ballot GOP candidates. Dislike of Trump will keep people away from the polls, and not even a strong endorsement from Trump will help.
Can you imagine what it is like to be a Republican running for reelection this year? Would you support Trump? Reject him? Ignore him? Try to have it both ways?
Well, now you don’t have to imagine it. Vox has created a eerily accurate simulation of what it is like to be a Republican politician in the age of Trump.
For example, they start with the situation where Trump says something offensive (not that hard to imagine). You play the role of a Republican running for office. Do you “issue a statement criticizing Trump”, “Do nothing and hope it blows over”, or “call the Trump campaign for guidance”? You pick.
But if you pick the first option, you get attacked by the GOP’s angry base and potentially even by Trump himself, and the press starts asking you if you when you are going to take back your previous endorsement of Trump, or pull a Ryan and continue to support Trump?
Again, you do the right thing and withdraw your endorsement. But 85% of your party’s voters plan to vote for Trump this year. You lose.
No matter what option you chose at each step, you lose. You are between a rock and a hard place. Even if Trump wins the election, he can still destroy the Republican party. And if he loses, he can still do tremendous damage.