Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Trump Is Hurting GOP Senate Recruitment

Republicans, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on down, are aching to take back the upper chamber. The problem is that three of the four open seats (see above), are in deep-blue states. The fourth is in a purple-blue state, and one where the Democratic bench is deep. So, the GOP is going to have to unseat at least one incumbent, and probably two, if they want to give McConnell his gavel back. Given that 90% of incumbents are reelected, and that 100% were reelected last cycle, that's a tall order, even with vulnerable Democratic seats in West Virginia, Montana and (maybe) Ohio and Arizona.

This is a situation that calls for good candidates, those who can not only win a primary, but can then turn around and put together a viable Republican-independent-conservative Democratic coalition in the general. And thus far, the GOP is not having much luck recruiting that kind of candidate thus far. The problem, in two words? Donald Trump.

This problem really breaks down into three sub-problems:

  1. The Primary Electorate: It's pretty hard to make it through a Republican primary these days without being a fire-breathing Trumper. A GOP candidate might pull it off in a very blue state, but there's no hope of them winning in the general in those states. And anywhere else, the majority of the Republicans are Trumpers. A candidate who refuses to tack rightward risks losing to someone who will tack rightward. And a candidate who gives in and panders to the base ends up giving the opposition plenty of ammo to use in the general election.

  2. Trump Himself: At the same time, any candidate who fails to embrace Trump and Trumpism can expect to be the target of much vitriol from the former president, while they watch one of their rivals receive Trump's endorsement. And even if they embrace Trump (or, at very least, manage to keep him quiet), they are going to face constant questions about the former president's misdeeds. For example: "Do you think it's apropos for the Republicans to back a presidential candidate who sexually assaults women?" Or "Do you think the Republicans should be running a president who tried to overturn an election result?" There are no correct answers to these questions if you're trying to win office as a Republican; you'll aggravate the base or the general electorate or both.

  3. The General Election: There is every chance that Trump will be the Republican nominee, and that he will drag down the overall ticket with his lack of coattails. While it is possible for a Senate candidate to run ahead of a presidential candidate, it's not easy, particularly up against an incumbent.

Taking stock of these dynamics, a lot of candidates that McConnell & Co. would really like to recruit (e.g., David McCormick in Pennsylvania) are hesitant. That also extends to candidates that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) & Co. would really like to recruit for the House (e.g., Joe O'Dea in Colorado). Undoubtedly, the allure of power will be enough to persuade some attractive candidates to take their chances. But the more races in which the only candidates the Republican Party can find are nutty Trumpers (e.g., Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania), the harder it becomes for the GOP to re-take the Senate and, perhaps, to hold the House. (Z)

The answers to the questions from above:

  1. Which leader is the one who is +60? Narenda Modi (Hmmmmm....)
  2. Any one of the other two leaders who is +20 or better Alain Berset and Andrés Manuel López Obrador?
  3. The leader who, at -10, is closest to Joe Biden? Alexander De Croo (Biden's also pretty close to the self-described fascist, the +3 Georgia Meloni)
  4. The leader who, at -49, is apparently the most unpopular leader in the world? Emmanuel Macron
  5. Any one of the other four leaders who is -30 or worse? Olaf Scholz, Jonas Gahr Støre, Karl Nehammer and Mark Rutte

Here's the complete table:

Leader (Country) Approve    No Opinion Disapprove Net
Narendra Modi (India) 78% 4% 18% +60
Alain Berset (Switzerland) 58% 12% 30% +28
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico) 60% 5% 35% +26
Anthony Albanese (Australia) 55% 13% 32% +23
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil) 49% 7% 44% +5
Giorgia Meloni (Italy) 48% 6% 46% +3
Joe Biden (United States) 42% 7% 50% -8
Alexander De Croo (Belgium) 37% 15% 48% -10
Justin Trudeau (Canada) 38% 8% 54% -16
Rishi Sunak (United Kingdom) 35% 12% 52% -17
Pedro Sánchez (Spain) 39% 5% 56% -17
Leo Varadkar (Ireland) 36% 11% 53% -18
Fumio Kishida (Japan) 33% 14% 53% -19
Ulf Kristersson (Sweden) 32% 11% 57% -25
Mateusz Morawiecki (Poland) 32% 6% 61% -29
Olaf Scholz (Germany) 31% 5% 64% -34
Jonas Gahr Støre (Norway) 29% 7% 63% -34
Karl Nehammer (Austria) 27% 7% 66% -40
Mark Rutte (Netherlands) 26% 6% 67% -41
Emmanuel Macron (France) 23% 6% 72% -49

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates