Alex Roarty at Roll Call writes that GOP nominee Donald Trump’s rising poll numbers is good news for down-ballot Republican candidates who were initially planning to distance themselves from their party’s nominee.
From Roll Call:
House and Senate Republicans might not resort to their Donald Trump contingency plan after all.
For months, the party’s down-ballot candidates prepared to distance themselves from their unpopular presidential nominee in the election’s final weeks, convinced that an overt effort was necessary to prevent big losses in Congress. The approach, known as the “check-and-balance” argument, would stipulate that voters needed a Republican-controlled Congress if Hillary Clinton or Trump won the presidency.
But now leading party strategists say Trump’s rising poll numbers and relatively toned-down approach might make the strategy unnecessary — assuming Trump is able to sustain his momentum.
“We’ve tested it, we know it works in some places, but until the first debate is over, it’s premature,” said Scott Reed, a senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Trump has made this a competitive race. He’s lifted all boats. He’s bringing Republicans home.”
Republicans readily concede that Trump could still implode. And if he does, down-ballot GOP candidates will need to emphasize the check they can provide on a Clinton presidency.
Second, positioning against Trump in any way could alienate his base of core Republican voters.
“Cutting Trump off puts you in a position, especially for Republicans, that you may be alienating part of your base by trying to pick up folks who are probably more moderate,” said Mark Dion, who is running a super PAC supporting Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey. “You don’t want to be in a positon where you have to give up one to pick up another, a less than zero-sum game.”
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