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Trump’s Coattails?

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.



  1. Mountain Man wrote:

    Your views seem to me to be a dangerous distortion of the facts. Ellmers lost and lost big because she wasn’t crazy conservative enough, not because she was supported by Trump. She’s about as right wing as you can get without being a certifiable lunatic but her opponents, supported by tons of money from ultra-conservative groups, managed to convince her constituents that that wasn’t good enough. Don’t underestimate Trump’s “draw” and definitely don’t console yourself with the idea that Ellmers’ demise had anything to do with lack of support for Trump here in North Carolina.

    Friday, June 10, 2016 at 5:04 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    The point I was making was that Trump doesn’t have any coattails. If his endorsement (and campaigning for her) doesn’t mean anything, that is very bad news for Republicans.

    Friday, June 10, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  3. redjon wrote:

    We can only imagine, though, as two more years (in the case of Congress) isn’t going to exactly help the country.

    Meanwhile, the Utah delegation is in the process of writing legislation that will give back to Congress the power of the purse. Which they’ve always had but seem to have forgotten, at least for purposes of taking responsibility for deficit spending.

    Friday, June 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  4. Ralph wrote:

    With Trump pulling the GOP one way, while the Tea Party, Jesus freaks and Libertarians all pull their own ways, they are figuratively being drawn and quartered. I realize those demographics overlap some, but their convention later this Summer is shaping up to be, literally, a four-ring circus. It’s no wonder the party elites are largely sitting this one out. But I for one am looking forward to it, it’s gonna be a great show, a tremendous show actually, the greatest amazing show, believe me, no one puts on a better show than The Donald! And if Trump gets his way, he’ll be selling hats, steaks, vodka and (if he can ever get that Mexican judge to recuse) diplomas from Trump U. Maybe they’ll even have real elephants wrapped in flags wearing giant Make America Great Again! hats and diapers with Hillary’s picture on ’em and ridden by Miss America contestants in bikinis. Suck it, PETA!

    Good grief. Sorry, got a little carried away there. On a more serious note, Thomas Friedman was spot on with his recent op-ed. The GOP is so morally and ethically bankrupt they’d be better off blowing the whole thing up and starting over.

    Though I’m not sure the Democrats would stand to do the right thing either with the spoils, as Friedman reminds us, “America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party.” As it now stands, and especially since Citizens United put its thumb on the scale (how ironic is THAT ruling in hindsight?!), those counter forces have become dangerously imbalanced. And as usual, it’s always the little guy (i.e. middle class) that ends up taking it on the chin.

    Friday, June 10, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  5. Dave, TN wrote:

    Ralph, I wonder if Clint and his imaginary friend will show up. We all know the the clown with the big orange hair will be under the tent but I wonder who else will be invited consideing that “Don the Con” is on his way to insult nearly every demographic.

    Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 5:58 am | Permalink
  6. Ralph wrote:

    Good idea, Dave! But maybe they can put on a different act. People may forget the time Trump played a cameo role in one of his classics from the ’70s, Every Which Way but Loose. He was perfect for the part, no makeup required and basically just played himself. Maybe they can reprise a few memorable scenes together. Even that old line works today – “Right turn, Clyde.”

    Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink