A new analysis finds that Democrats will have a chance of winning back the House if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the Republican presidential nominee.
According to The Cook Political Report:
Republicans are sitting on their largest majority since 1928 – 247 seats to 188 – meaning Democrats would need to pick up 30 seats, a daunting challenge given the GOP’s immense redistricting advantage and the vaporization of swing districts. But all cycle, Democrats have daydreamed about Republicans nominating an extremely polarizing presidential candidate, and suddenly it’s almost certain they will get their wish.
A Trump or Cruz nomination wouldn’t guarantee a down-ballot disaster for the GOP, but operatives on both sides admit it would inject much more uncertainty into races – especially if it were Trump. For one, given Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorable ratings and Trump’s willingness to adapt his message to fit changing political conditions, anything from an extremely close race to a total Clinton blowout seems possible in November.
Second, if November does turn into a Democratic rout, it’s impossible to know just how bad it could get for Republicans sharing a ballot with Trump or Cruz. On one hand, past presidential blowouts in years like 1964, 1972 and 1984 haven’t led to dramatic sea changes in House seats. On the other, there hasn’t been a true presidential blowout in 20 years. Today, rates of split-ticket voting are at all-time lows and House candidates are defined by their party and the top of the ticket more than ever.
The problem for the Republican Party is that initial polling suggested that nominating Donald Trump or Ted Cruz could push Republican turnout down by one-third. In Trump’s case, the results are very clear. In the swing state of Ohio, 10% of recently polled Republicans found that they would vote for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump wins.
The Republicans don’t have a unity candidate in their presidential field. The Republican options are two guys who will push voters away from their party in droves, and John Kasich. The writing is already on the wall. If Trump or Cruz is the Republican nominee, there will be down ballot consequences.
The price that voters may make Republicans pay for their inept stupidity could be as steep as giving Democrats back control of the House.