GOP Right Wingers Winning Primaries Now, May Lose in November

According to the Associated Press (AP) Republican primary fights going on now “are pulling the party to the right, leaving some leaders worried their candidates will be out of a step with the broader electorate in November.”

If this happens, it would not be unusual, since primaries must appeal to the party faithful instead of to the population as a whole.  This year, however, is unusual in that many GOP primary candidates are in a competition to see how far right they can go and how strongly they can show their support for President Donald Trump.

To say Trump is a polarizing political figure is an understatement.  His supporters love him, but they are generally only about a third of the general population.  His overall approval ratings have been the lowest of any president during his first years.

This means that supporting Trump may win Republican primaries but imperil a candidate’s chances in the fall.

Four states that went for Trump in 2016 are holding primaries on Tuesday:  Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Looking at the rhetoric taking place during these GOP primary campaigns has illustrated just how great an impact the president has had since he did a hostile takeover of the party just two years ago.

It is now believed that to win a primary, candidates can’t say a bad word about a president who has more corruption and credibility issues than any other president in history.

John Weaver, an aide to current Republican Ohio governor John Kasich, had this to say about the dilemma currently facing his party:

“The far left and the far right always think they are going to dominate these elections. You may think it’s wise in a primary to handcuff yourself to the president, but when the ship goes down, you may not be able to get the cuffs off.”

It is expected that in Ohio the GOP winner will be someone much more conservative than Kasich, who represents the dying breed known as Republican Moderates.

In Indiana, primary voters have three Senate candidates who all have been praising Trump while criticizing each other. In West Virginia, one of the candidates, Don Blankenship, is a former federal convict who is attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

While Republicans are battling it out in brutal and expensive primaries, Democrats in these states are sitting on the sidelines, happily watching what is going on.  Especially benefiting from the GOP turmoil are Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.  They don’t have primary opponents and have huge campaign warchests as incumbent senators.

Ohio Democrats are also happy about the rightward drift of the other party.  “If Ohio Republicans are divided into Trump Republicans and Kasich Republicans, the Trump Republicans have won,” said the state Democratic chairman, David Pepper. “That helps us.”

Gallup polls show that Trump has an 89 percent job approval rating among Republicans nationally, but only 35 percent among independents who normally swing close elections.  Historically, presidents with low approval ratings cost their parties greatly, leading to big midterm losses.

With low Trump approval among everyone but Republicans, and with the GOP moving more and more toward unpopular conservative views, it could be a very good year for Democrats to pick up a lot of victories in the November elections.

If the most conservative GOP candidates win Tuesday’s primaries, then this will be another indicator of a Democratic year, and we can expect a Blue Wave in the fall.