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The Trump Effect: Down Ballot Burden or Boost?

The Trump Effect: Down Ballot Burden or Boost?


By Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Donald Trump has the dubious distinction of being the most abandoned Republican presidential nominee by officeholders in his own party.

But does disowning him help or hurt other GOP candidates in other races?

Since the revelation of crude remarks made by Trump about women, the number of Republican office-seekers either refusing to endorse him or shunning him after first endorsing him has shot up dramatically.

The question of whether Trump helps or hurts GOP office-seekers was discussed by a group of nonpartisan election experts Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) 34-year-old Election Watch forum.

“It’s a ridiculous tightrope walk,” said Norman Ornstein, veteran political scientist and AEI resident scholar. “First one endorses, then ‘not endorses' or explains ‘supporting him is not an endorsement,’ then says, ‘I can’t stand Trump, but I’ve got to vote for him.’”

Ornstein concluded that Republican candidates grappling with supporting Trump this year: “You suffer a lot. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

He cited the case of New Hampshire’s GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, now locked in a tight re-election battle with Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Ayotte had the problem, Ornstein recalled, of telling an audience “why Trump is a good role model for children two days before the tape was released.” At that point, she withdrew her endorsement of Trump.

Nevada’s Republican Rep. and U.S. Senate nominee Joe Heck also withdrew his support of Trump. Before that, he was leading Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto in most polls. But since Heck pulled back from Trump, a CNN/ORC poll shows Masto pulling ahead of Heck by 52 to 45 percent.

Michael Barone, nationally syndicated columnist and co-founder of "The Almanac of American Politics,” said, “Senate polling is different from the presidential polling.” Barone suggested that American voters may be moving away from the trend toward straight-ticket voting that grew increasingly common from 2000-12. (Presently, with straight-ticket voting at a modern high, 84 of 100 U.S. senators come from states that their party carried in the last presidential election, compared to 61 in 1999 and 43 in 1987.)

“We may be going back to the ’70s and ’80s, when there was a lot of difference between voting for president and the Senate,” he said.

One example of what Barone was referring to is in Pennsylvania. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Trump by a 45-to-39 percent spread statewide. But Quinnipiac also shows Republican Sen. Pat Toomey leading Democrat Katie McGinty by 49 to 45 percent.

Toomey has long said he “would like to” support Trump, but has not because he is bothered by the presidential nominee’s refusal to support entitlement reform and because of his refusal to condemn Vladimir Putin.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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Donald Trump has the dubious distinction of being the most abandoned Republican presidential nominee by officeholders in his own party.
trump, toomey, election, ayotte
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:32 AM
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