GOP Senators Have the Most to Lose in Trump’s Shutdown Disaster

On Monday, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who wants to reopen the government and has taken part in discussions trying to broker a compromise, issued a threat. If talks to end the shutdown don’t work, she told Erica Werner from the Washington Post, “We’re not just going to sit back and do nothing.”

“Murkowski, following Shutdown Gang mtg:
“Well I think what’s important is to recognize that you’ve got a bipartisan group of folks that are very focused on forging a path through the wilderness.”
And if Trump rejects efforts?
“We’re not just going to sit back and do nothing.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still wasting his time trying to get red-state Democrats to support his border wall debacle. No Democrats in either the House or the Senate have broken ranks to support the president, and it is not likely than any of them ever will.

This leads to perhaps the most important question in Washington right now:

When will Republican senators — especially those up for reelection in 2020 — remove themselves politically from Trump’s shutdown disaster?

Based on recent polls we can expect several Senate Republicans to soon start hedging their bets and trying to resolve the shutdown impasse. So far, however, the two most vulnerable Republican senators up in 2020, Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner and Maine Sen. Susan Collins have shown only mild opposition to Trump’s shutdown. They have not strongly bucked the party line and are not widely publicizing their support for reopening the government.

But in a recent PPP poll, 58 percent of Colorado voters and 63 percent of Maine voters were opposed to keeping the government closed until wall funding is provided.

And yesterday another senator from the pro-Trump state of West Virginia — Democrat Joe Manchin — came out against the shutdown. He was quoted as saying:

“Never in my life have I seen workers used as a pawn..We agree on six bills..McConnell do your job”

West Virginia’s GOP senator, Shelley Moore Capito, has also voiced support for reopening the government. It’s no coincidence that both West Virginia senators from different parties are taking a similar position — their home state polls have shown them that the Trump shutdown is very unpopular.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to feel a great deal of pressure to allow votes on the House-passed funding bills.

The breaking point will be when enough Republican senators go to McConnell and tell him their position is untenable and could seriously put their 2020 re-election chances at risk. The idea that voters won’t remember this fiasco by 2020 doesn’t make sense. Signs are clear that they are quickly getting fed up and are blaming Republicans.

Two other GOP senators will soon feel the political heat for aligning themselves with Trump: Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

McSally didn’t win her Senate seat by election, because she was appointed to fill John McCain’s vacant seat. It will hurt her in 2020 to stick by Trump with 55 percent of her constituents disagreeing with keeping the government closed. By a 13-point margin (50-37) Arizonans say that they will be less likely to vote for someone who stood by Trump on the shutdown.

The numbers for Ernst in Iowa are also bad, with 56 percent of Iowans opposed to keeping the government shuttered and saying by a 12-point margin that staying loyal to Trump on the shutdown will make them less likely to vote for her in 2020.

Trump’s position is increasingly unpopular. As more information comes out about Trump’s crimes and working as a Russian spy, he will become even less popular than he is now. The economy — especially the farm economy — will probably continue to worsen because of Trump’s tariffs and trade war. This means 2020 is not likely to be a strong year for Republican candidates.

The senators from West Virginia, the most Trump-friendly state in the nation, have clearly concluded that sticking by the president on the shutdown is a losing proposition. As the shutdown pain increases in coming weeks, it is probably only a matter of time before more Republican senators join them.

Currently there are only 53 Republicans in the U.S. Senate. So it will only take a net loss of three seats — plus the presidency — for them to lose their Senate majority.

The chances of Democrats winning Senate control in 2020 (as well as the presidency) are increasing each day the Trump shutdown continues.