Conventional wisdom and math have long created the narrative that it would take Democrats many election cycles too overcome the Republican 30 seat majority in the House. And then along came Donald Trump.
The House is actually in play, thanks to Donald Trump, who in suburban districts is “about as popular as head lice.”
So said Jack Pitney said to USA Today. Pitney is now a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College but during a leave was the Acting Director of the Research Department of the Republican National Committee.
In other words, these are not the words of a liberal partisan: Trump is as popular as head lice. Trump will put Republicans in jeopardy, especially in suburban districts.
In the USA Today article, Erin Kelly examined the possibility by speaking with several analysts and party spokespeople. Pitney explained that the Republican Congressional candidates are in trouble because Americans are increasingly voting party-line, so they aren’t likely to vote for Clinton for President and a Republican in the House.
“That puts the Republican majority in jeopardy, especially in suburban districts, where Trump is about as popular as head lice,” Pitney said. “Trump is definitely going to cause damage for Republicans. It may not be quite enough to cost them control of the House, but he is going to make the party bleed. The only question is how much.”
It would be very unlikely for Democrats to take control of the House, given the gerrymandering and the fact that Democrats do not have candidates they thought to prepare for such an unlikely situation. But thanks to Trump’s alienation of women, the disabled, minorities, and pretty much everyone who isn’t a white male, if he were the Republican nominee, it would cause some serious damage to Congressional Republicans.
Republican Representatives who thought they were totally safe are now going to be asked if they agree with Donald Trump that women should be punished for an abortion, or if not women, how about punishing doctors. They will be asked if they also think Mexicans are rapists.
Republicans haven’t shown any fortitude thus far in distancing themselves from Donald Trump, which is another problem. As an example of this, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) said today he has concluded that Donald Trump is unfit to be president, but won’t rule out endorsing him. This seems to be the Republican go-to, which demonstrates exactly why they are in this position in the first place. They lack the courage to say no to their spoiled, indulged base.
John Kasich says he has concluded that Donald Trump is unfit to be president, but won't rule out endorsing him pic.twitter.com/wHvcy6l1Xd
— Henry Goldman (@hgoldman77) March 31, 2016
Erin Kelly dug into the numbers with Cook Political Report House race analyst David Wasserman, who concluded it’s a long shot but not impossible for Democrats to take back the House. Here’s Kelly’s breakdown of his numbers:
To gain control of the House, Democrats would have to win 30 of the 31 Republican-held House seats that are considered at-risk without losing a single seat of their own, said David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
“It’s a long shot, but it’s not impossible,” said Wasserman, who predicts that Democrats are likely to gain up to 15 seats but adds that the election remains volatile and his estimate could change.
In fact the Cook Political Report downgraded Republicans’ chances in 10 districts on March 18th, according to Politico.
It’s unlikely that Democrats are prepared to seize on this opportunity, but the mere fact that analysts have put the House in play due to the rhetoric of the Republican front-runner shows just how dangerous Trump is to the survival of the Republican Party.
The House was the Republican back-up plan. It’s been the place where all bills go to die, where Republican extremists kill jobs bills and infrastructure bills and refuse to fund the government. They got away with these things because they were gerrymandered into safety.
Or so they thought.