With the news that John Bel Edwards has won a second term as governor of Louisiana, that makes two out of the last three gubernatorial elections – the other one being Kentucky – in which the Democrat beat the Republican. Both of those wins occurred in red states and after a last-minute visit to each state by Trump to bolster the Republican.
Trump supporters are adamant that were it not for his visit, the election results would’ve been a lot more lopsided. Matt Bevin lost in Kentucky by just over five thousand votes out of 1.4 million cast, while Eddie Rispone in Louisiana lost by forty thousand votes out of 1.5 million cast. But the real question should be not whether Trump helped the Republican, but whether his presence might’ve inadvertently hurt him?
In my opinion, Trump has hurt his party far more than he has helped it. Just look at the results of the 2016 election. Trump is one of only three presidents since LBJ to lose seats in both chambers of Congress in his first election. The other two were George H.W. Bush in 1988 and George W. Bush in 2000; the former lost his bid for a second term to Bill Clinton in ’92. Below are the breakdowns for each election going back to 1964.
Johnson: House +37, Senate +2
Nixon: House +5, Senate +5
Carter: House +1, Senate -1
Reagan: House +34, Senate +12
Bush 41: House -2, Senate -1
Clinton: House -9, Senate Even
Bush 43: House -1, Senate -4
Obama: House +21, Senate +8
Trump: House -6, Senate -2
Even Jimmy Carter managed to net one seat in the House in 1976, and he went on to get routed by Ronald Reagan in ’80. The bottom line is that typically the party that wins the White House picks up seats in Congress. Put simply, Trump, for all his bluster and self aggrandizing, has no coat tails. Yes, he’s very popular among his base of supporters, but apart from that, he’s like Kryptonite to Republicans in general. Consider that in both Kentucky and Louisiana, the GOP did very well across the board EXCEPT in the races that Trump injected himself into.
The man’s obsession with himself hasn’t just put an undue burden on members of his own party; it’s ostensibly allowed Democrats, even in red states, to focus on the issues that matter most to voters. That’s how both Andy Beshear and John Bel Edwards won their elections, and it’s how Democrats must approach 2020 if they want to beat Trump.
While Captain Blowhard will throw a pity party for himself about how terribly he was treated by “shifty” Schiff and the “deep state,” whoever the Democratic nominee is should make the election about the issues that people care most about: healthcare, infrastructure and middle class tax relief. While Trump will do everything to suck the oxygen out of the room; Democrats had better bring a respirator with them.
I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. The right candidate in the general will prevail over the worst president ever to occupy the Oval Office. And if you want to know who the right candidate would be, just take a gander at the Democrats who are winning in these off-year elections, or for that matter the majority of the Democrats who won in last year’s. They sure as shit ain’t part of the Bernie / AOC wing of the party. If Democrats truly want a big tent, they must start by realizing that not everyone under it is going to look and sound the same.
Barack Obama said it best. “This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”
Food for thought, people.