Nobody was rooting harder for Don Blankenship to win the West Virginia GOP Senate primary than Democrats, who were betting on smooth sailing for incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin in November if the ex-con coal baron were his opponent.
Alas, Blankenship was defeated and with him went the hope for Democrats to win back the majority in the Senate, according to Politico's analysis.
Manchin's defense of his Senate seat against traditional conservative Patrick Morrisey in Trump Country is a microcosm of Democrats' woes when it comes to the midterm map; they have far more seats to defend than Republicans in states where their platform ain't playing while President Donald Trump enjoys record support, Politico reports.
"In these Republican primaries under the current Senate map, loyalty to Trump is the No. 1 cause. It’s the No. 1 issue," Leah Askarinam, an analyst at Inside Elections, told ABC News.
Holding onto Manchin's seat and hopefully picking off Republican seats in Nevada (Sen. Dean Heller) and Arizona (retiring Sen. Jeff Flake) might have offset enough losses elsewhere to win back the Senate majority, Politico reports.
Further, Rep. Marsha Blackburn appears to be in a dogfight in Tennessee to replace Sen. Bob Corker as does Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas.
But neither the math nor the map are looking good for Democrats.
Sen. Jon Tester has a target painted on his chest by Trump; Sen. Joe Donnelly will have a battle against Republican upstart Mike Braun in Indiana; Sens. Claire McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp are sitting ducks in dead-red Trump country.
Further, Senate Democrats won't have abominations like Blankenship in any race to pave their way to Capitol Hill.
"Democrats have feasted on Republican freak-show candidates in recent Senate elections. Donnelly and McCaskill both skated to victory in 2012 after their challengers made controversial remarks about rape, pregnancy and abortion.
With Blankenship’s defeat in West Virginia this week, Manchin has been denied that opportunity," Politico's Charlie Mahtesian writes.
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