The Corner

Politics & Policy

House and Senate Republicans: Their Interests Diverge

Henry Olsen writes:

The House GOP majority rests on 23 Republican-held seats in congressional districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. These seats are either in heavily Hispanic areas of Texas or South Florida or well-educated and affluent suburbs of large cities. The voters that GOP candidates need to hold on to these seats are those who voted for Romney in 2012 and Clinton in 2016. Data from the Voter Study Group show that Romney-Clinton voters tend to be more culturally moderate, pro-immigration, and pro-trade than Trump voters. A House-centric strategy, therefore, would downplay those issues and emphasize policy areas that dominated prior campaigns—taxes and defense, for example.

The playing field is different for Senate GOP candidates, who have an historic opportunity to gain seats from Democrats in states that Trump won with landslide margins. . . . The Senate GOP incentive, therefore, is to motivate Trump backers from all parties to vote. That means stressing jugular issues like building the wall and protecting American jobs.

It follows, I think, that House and Senate Democratic candidates will tend to emphasize different things. Roughly speaking: For the Senate candidates, Trump hasn’t made good on his promises to working-class voters because he is just another Republican plutocrat; for the House candidates, isn’t this guy embarrassing (and hey what happened to your tax deductions)?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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