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Trump may win...but will he help the GOP win the Senate?

Think the Dems are dysfunctional, so is the GOP! They self-destructed by supporting the annihilation of Roe v Wade and have in effect stolen defeat from the jaws of victory.

Trump didn't tank the party with his big mouth, he destroyed the conservative movement by appointing a bunch of hacks to the Supremes.

Will Biden Drag Senate Democrats Down With Him?

So far at least, his party’s swing-state incumbents are polling ahead of the unpopular president.

By Gerard Baker

May 27, 2024 2:40 pm ET

What’s the opposite of presidential coattails? Presidential ankle weights? Whatever you call them, Joe Biden has them.

The president is historically unpopular, reflected not merely in his low approval ratings but in the electoral contests taking place down ballot from the presidential level. If the polls are correct, Mr. Biden is underperforming his party by a large margin in November.

Look at recent Senate polls in the swing states Mr. Biden won in 2020. According to the RealClearPolitics polling averages, in every case the Democratic candidate is outperforming the top of the ticket by a significant margin.

In Nevada, Mr. Biden trails Donald Trump by more than 5 points. But Sen. Jacky Rosen, the Democratic candidate, leads her most likely Republican opponent, Sam Brown, by just under 5. In Wisconsin the presidential race is in effect tied. But Sen. Tammy Baldwin is ahead of the leading Republican challenger by 7. In Pennsylvania, the president is down by 2 points, while Sen. Bob Casey is up by 5 over his Republican opponent.

In states Mr. Biden carried comfortably in 2020, the same pattern holds. In Minnesota, which he won by 7 points, he is running ahead of Mr. Trump by only 2 points. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up by more than 15.

In all these states, incumbent Democratic senators are running for re-election. But in the two swing states with open seats, Mr. Biden is running behind his fellow Democrat by a similar margin. In Arizona Mr. Trump is 4 points ahead of the president. Kari Lake, the leading Republican Senate candidate in the July 30 primary, trails the likeliest Democratic nominee by 7. In Michigan, Mr. Biden is down by 1 point against Mr. Trump. The latest polling suggests whoever wins the GOP Senate primary will trail the likely Democratic nominee by between 1 and 8 points.

Averaging all these states, Mr. Biden underperforms his senate Democratic counterpart by 9 points.

There is a similar if less pronounced trend in the generic House ballot. In 2020, Mr. Biden outpolled Mr. Trump by 4.5 points nationwide, while Democrats’ edge in the aggregate House vote was 3 points. Today, Mr. Biden trails Mr. Trump by a percentage point nationwide, while Democrats have a slight edge in the generic House polling.

Presidents have trailed their party before and won; Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 are good examples. But before Mr. Trump and the unusual circumstances of 2020, the previous two incumbent presidents seeking re-election, George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2012, ran ahead of their parties and helped them to significant gains in the Senate and the House.

There is another way of looking at this: The Democratic vote is holding up remarkably well in the Senate seats at stake. On this interpretation, if Mr. Biden’s coattails are negative, Mr. Trump’s are nonexistent.

This was always going to be a brutal year for Democrats in the Senate. Of the 34 seats up, they are defending 20, plus three seats of independents who have caucused with the party. Three of the Democratic seats are from states Mr. Trump won—Montana, Ohio and West Virginia. With only 51 seats in the current Senate, the Democrats were widely expected to lose their majority—with the Republicans, given the president’s unpopularity, enjoying a solid legislative advantage.

But current polling finds Republicans ahead comfortably only in West Virginia, where Sen. Joe Manchin is retiring. If that holds and Mr. Trump were to win the presidency, his party would take control only via the vice president’s deciding vote.

All this could change. We are five months out from the election, and polling at this stage is unreliable. In recent elections the tendency has been for the swing states to move in the same direction, and if the Republicans are set to advance, it seems probable they will do so in some of the Senate races.

But we can learn two things from the current state of the presidential and congressional races. First, Mr. Biden is a calamitously unpopular president. In state after state large numbers of voters are saying they will vote for his opponent while choosing a Democratic Senate or House candidate.

Second, Mr. Trump’s appeal remains sui generis. A significant part of that no doubt simply reflects Mr. Biden’s unpopularity. But as we saw in 2016 and 2020 (and in 2018 for that matter) for many of his voters nothing but the real thing will do. For the time being at least, Trumpism without Mr. Trump isn’t a thing at all.

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