Will Trump’s Midterm Barnstorming Save the House?
In the remaining days of the 2018 midterm campaign, President Trump is attempting to completely capture the narrative and will spend a lot of time crisscrossing the country doing rallies for Republican candidates. There are just 7 days left before Election Day on Nov. 6, and the President is squeezing in almost a dozen rallies during this short timespan across several states. Of course, he’s not the only one barnstorming for the midterms, several key Democrats, many of whom likely have 2020 Presidential aspirations, will also be making appearances in upcoming days.
First, the New York Post reports on Trump’s exhausting campaign schedule which demonstrates just how much he wants to win in November:
The president’s schedule includes stops in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Trump will be in Florida Wednesday, backing Gov. Rick Scott for the US Senate seat occupied by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) He’s also endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis over progressive Democratic hopeful Andrew Gillum.
On Thursday, Trump will be in Columbia, Missouri, to support Republican Josh Hawley, who is trying to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, the incumbent Democrat.
On Friday, the president will begin with a rally in Huntington, West Virginia.
He’s backing Republican Senate hopeful Patrick Morrisey over Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, despite Manchin’s vote in favor of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The president will then move on to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Republican Mike Braun looks poised to take out Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly.
Trump will begin Saturday in Bozeman, Montana, on behalf of Republican Matt Rosendale, who’s challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
The president will then fly back to Florida and hold a rally in Pensacola, to again champion Republican candidates.
On Sunday, Trump will hold a rally in Macon, Georgia, for Republican Brian Kemp, who’s running against Democratic darling Stacey Abrams for the state’s governor’s mansion.
The president will then move on to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican, is trying to win the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) The state’s former Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen – who was endorsed by singer Taylor Swift – is also vying for the seat.
On Monday – the day before the election – Trump will begin in Cleveland, Ohio, move to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and finish the day in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
That’s basically a visit to every major Senate race as well as several stops for some key gubernatorial races. In fact, the race for Governor in Wisconsin and Florida are often overlooked, but both states will hold major ramifications for the 2020 Presidential campaign depending on which party controls the state house. Trump won both states in 2016 with the help of Republican governors in each one. If either state flips, it’s going to make his effort harder in 2020 to pull a repeat performance.
To counteract the President’s travels and provide some balance around the country, Democrats have dispatched several top names, including President Obama, to stump for candidates in important races.
Trump’s predecessor is set to visit Florida on Friday, as the Miami Herald reports:
In the clearest sign of the national consequences of Florida’s races for governor and Congress, former President Barack Obama will join Democrats Andrew Gillum and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on Friday in Miami for an appearance that will be sandwiched between visits to the state by President Donald Trump.
Obama, whose Miami stop was announced Monday, is scheduled to stump with the two top-of-ticket candidates and other Democrats at the Ice Palace film studios near Overtown only four days before the Nov. 6 election. Democrats are hoping to win back the Florida Governor’s Mansion for the first time in two decades, and need to keep Nelson’s seat in the Senate if they hope to also claw back Congress’ upper chamber.
Meanwhile, in the Midwest, former Vice President Joe Biden is making stops in Michigan:
Former Vice President Joe Biden is returning to Michigan on Thursday for a political rally in Lansing to galvanize Democrats ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
Biden was just in Michigan last month to campaign with gubernatorial nominee Gretchen Whitmer in Southfield.
Thursday’s get-out-the-vote rally at Lansing Community College is being hosted by the campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Elissa Slotkin, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester in the Nov. 6 election.
Biden previously endorsed Slotkin, who often advised Biden on national security matters when she served in the White House and later as a top defense official at the Pentagon.
“So I know personally what a hard-working member of Congress Elissa would be,” Biden said in a statement.
Democrats are confident, but not over-confident, in their chances of taking the House. Clearly, President Trump knows this and has decided that the only way to counteract historical trends is to push harder than Presidents typically push during the midterm cycle. In fact, conventional wisdom often holds that presidents should stay in DC, for the most part, and let House candidates push their local message. Trump is anything but conventional, and he’s trying to nationalize every race in every district as a referendum on him and hoping to replicate his 2016 success in the process.
Democrats are working hard to counter his message and putting their biggest names into the mix, sometimes in the same state on the same day, as we saw with Vice President Biden and President Trump in Nevada.
For these politicians, like Biden, the midterms offer a chance to get their feet wet in campaigning again and gauge voter enthusiasm for their possible presidential candidacy in 2020.
As for whether all the President’s activities and barnstorming rallies can save the House, some Republicans in Washington are already playing the blame game:
Frustration centered on 41 open or vacant GOP House seats, a record. Of those, nearly two dozen have become vulnerable to Democratic takeover, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. With just 23 seats needed to flip control, stakes are high for those in the politics business.
Six operatives questioned how hard the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., worked to keep members from retiring or leaving office. Ryan himself announced he would retire in April.
“The biggest trend that you’re seeing in the retirements are in districts where they thought it would be hard to maintain their seat,” said Mark Harkins, senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.
Ryan’s team dismissed accusations he didn’t do enough to help his party.
“Speaker Ryan and the NRCC worked tirelessly on recruitment this cycle and in competitive districts where GOP incumbents retired,” said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for Ryan’s political operation.
Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College and a former staffer for House GOP leadership and the Republican National Committee (RNC), said pointing the failure finger is nothing new, but President Donald Trump complicates things.
“Republicans are always fighting each other. When things look bad, they fight over blame. When things are good, they fight over credit. The one constant is they’re always fighting,” Pitney said.
“What is new is the breadth and depth of opposition to Trump,” Pitney said. “Bush and Reagan had down periods, but they also had periods of high approval. Trump never has. He’s uniquely polarizing, and I think that’s an important dynamic in this election.” Pitney himself left the party after Trump’s victory in 2016.
If Republicans lose the House, you can bet Trump will be pointing the finger at Ryan, and Ryan will be pointing it back at Trump, and McConnell will be laughing while he enjoys a likely outcome where Republicans hold the Senate and maybe even expand their majority.
The outcome of the House is still not settled, according to analysis from USAToday, which is probably the best thing Republicans can hope for at this point:
“I’d rather be the Democrats than the Republicans, certainly,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political handicapping website at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
He’s been watching 72 competitive House seats, 68 of which are or have been most recently held by Republicans. “But I don’t feel like – going seat by seat – that the Democrats have it locked up,” Kondik said. “A lot of the seats we’ve been talking about for the last year, they still seem to be up in the air.”
“Up in the air” seems to be the theme which means it’ll be an interesting election night, so grab your popcorn.
Filed in: 2018 Midterms Tagged in: biden Election 2018 midterms Obama rallies trump