To Jim Geraghty’s point about tonight’s awful election results for Republicans being perhaps attributable, after all, in significant part to Donald Trump’s drag on the ticket, let me say yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Ed Gillespie ran about as good a race for governor in Virginia as anyone possibly could in his circumstances. He ran as a candidate who came within a whisker of winning statewide in 2014. And he ran with major newspaper endorsements. But he got positively demolished, as did Republicans in the House of Delegates. And there’s really only one major difference between now and 2014: the raging unpopularity of a Republican president.
This continues a trend demonstrating that Trump is undermining Republicans all over the country. GOP candidates barely won House special elections earlier this year in seats once thought safe in Montana, Georgia, Kansas, and South Carolina. Here in Alabama, where I live, Trump was shown to be politically impotent when he went “all in” for appointed U.S. Senator Luther Strange, who was shellacked in the Republican Senate primary by former chief justice Roy Moore. Last year, in one of the few races where he endorsed in a House primary, on behalf of incumbent Renee Ellmers, Ellmers suffered a huge and embarrassing defeat.
Trump also badly mishandled the entire Obamacare replacement effort. When is the last time that a first-year president failed at his first major legislative initiative without being seen as the main loser of the battle? Never in my lifetime.
Trump’s own poll numbers have been in the tank for months, without much prospect of improving any time soon. He enjoys, and has merited, very little loyalty from Republicans on Capitol Hill, and has shown not a shred of ability to “make great deals” with anybody.
Tonight’s election results show that Trump is making Republicanism widely toxic. The prospects for recovery any time soon are very, very slim.