Early in the election cycle I made a prediction: I said if Donald Trump was the Republican nominee, the House would be in play for the Democrats. The reaction (and more than once) was 30 seats? Not likely.
This is Trahant Reports.
Months later “not likely” is a word worth reconsidering. It’s now a possibility because Donald Trump’s war against Republicans has not only doomed his bid for the White House, but it’s increasing prospects that the Democrats will win the Senate and unlikely as it was, the House. There is some polling data to back up this idea (certainly good news for Native American candidates Denise Juneau, Joe Pakootas, and Chase Iron Eyes.)
A survey for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows a seven-point advantage for Democrats in a generic poll. This is a question asked every cycle, basically “would you vote for a Democrat or a Republican?” Usually it’s close. It favors Democrats, slightly. (Remember more people vote for Democrats for Congress. Republicans win because of the district system.) Two years ago before the election the same question showed Republicans with a two-tenths of one percent lead. The final result: Democrats 49.2 percent; Republicans 48 percent.
That survey says when a candidate is running against a Republican “who continues to endorse Donald Trump” the Democratic margin moves from a 7-point advantage to a 12-point advantage. Voters, especially mainstream voters, don’t like that approach. (The two Native American Republican candidates for Congress, Representatives Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma continue to back Trump as the party’s nominee.)
But here’s the thing. The Trump campaign has created an impossible dilemma for Republican candidates because he’s now attacking Republicans and forcing them to stand with him or against him.
That leaves Republicans with three choices. Hide. Denounce Trump. Or continue supporting Trump as a flawed candidate.
Joe Pakootas, a former chairman of the Colville Tribe, has been relentless about what Trumps said about women.“First of all, we need to stop normalizing rape culture. This means not tolerating any talk that encourages sexual assault. We need to make sure the burden is on the perpetrator, not the victim.”
Who else is in this camp? Rep. Kevin Cramer in North Dakota, who is being challenged by Chase Iron Eyes, and, in Montana, Rep. Ryan Zinke, who is running against Denise Juneau.
These are significant numbers. In a recent Montana poll Denise Juneau trailed Zinke by three points and another by 11 points. So a 12-point swing, well, would change everything. Same story in Washington state. And, if Iron Eyes can get his message out, even in North Dakota.
I am Mark Trahant reporting.