As we head into final stretch of the midterms, there’s a plethora of chatter on the cable news channels about a blue wave (Democratic sweep).
Much is a stake this November, including control of the House, the Senate, and possibly articles of impeachment being brought on the floor of the U.S. House against President Trump.
To be frank the Republicans have an uphill battle. Historically the party in power loses seats. So, in this case, that would be the Republicans and the president. The early betting by the political prognosticators is that the Democrats will win back the majority in the House — but Republicans will keep control of the U.S. Senate, with fewer gains that had been projected.
The Republican leadership in D.C. is attempting to make the election about “results.”
And they have some good case to make — the economy is humming along, GDP for the last two quarters has been over 3 percent and unemployment is at record lows. The stock market has been on a bull run since President Trump was elected, regulations were rolled back, taxes were cut, and jobs are being created.
And the president and the Republican Senate have confirmed one conservative jurist to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch — and Judge Brett Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed by the end of September — thus reshaping the Supreme Court for a generation.
Add to that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s rapid confirmation of Federal Appeal Court Judges — thus ensuring a conservative imprint on the courts for decades. So all things being equal, Republicans should be in pretty good shape.
But in fact they are not. Consider this.
Currently Democrats have the upper hand when it comes to “voter intensity and the generic ballot.” Which, simply stated, means the Democrat's base is much more motivated this fall.
Clearly the Republican “messaging” is not cutting through. Sure, Republicans can blame “the bias” of the mainstream media. But at the heart of it — in my view — is that the “Republican Establishment and the GOP Beltway Consultants are ignoring President Trump’s signature issue: illegal immigration. Yet, illegal immigration is on the minds of American electorate.
According to a recent July Gallup survey, 35 percent of Republicans say illegal immigration is the Number 1 issue facing the country. And the percentage of Americans who say illegal immigration is the most important problem in the country grew from 14 percent to 22 percent in July. That’s the highest percentage for an issue in the history of Gallup’s “most important problem” questions.
So why do the Republican National Committee and the establishment consultants continue to ignore the issue? Pure and simple: the majority of their donors don’t want it to be part of the 2018 message. The Republican donors and the “leadership” in the party are willing to give lip service to securing the border, but that’s it.
And let’s be clear, GOP establishment completely missed the backlash over illegal immigration in the 2016 presidential election.
And it appears they will deliberately ignore the issue again in the midterms.
The end result of this current strategy: a depressed Republican base turnout, the loss of the GOP majority in the House, and a complete halt to the “Trump Agenda.”
But imagine if President Trump pivoted and reframed the debate during upcoming budget battle and focused on t the crushing costs of illegal immigration, funding for the wall, MS-13, the drug crisis, border security, and sanctuary cities.
That strategy might upset the swamp but in my view the Trump base would turnout and the outcome of midterms might look very different.
Marc Rotterman worked on the national campaign for Reagan for president in 1980. He currently serves as senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation. He is the host of "Front Row" on UNC-TV and The NC Channel. Follow him on Twitter @FrontRowmarc. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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