Week of Monday, October 29
IN BRIEF: One week out from Election Day, Republican Senate candidates are en route to fall far short of expectations. Here’s why:
- This cycle’s map was supposed to be a Republican juggernaut. After the 2016 election, onlookers predicted a Republican sweep of 10 Senate seats held by Democratic Senators in states that Trump won.
But multiple recruitment failures, a deeply unpopular president, and Republican ineffectiveness have evened the playing field. States once thought to be in play — Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin — are effectively off the map. And even in redder states like Montana and West Virginia, flawed Republican candidates have failed to overtake popular incumbents.
- The GOP has failed to find any meaningful message on which to campaign. Democrats have displayed across-the-board message discipline on the cycle’s #1 issue — healthcare — forcing Republicans to play defense on policies they’ve championed for nearly a decade (more on that below).
Their sole legislative win of the past two years has backfired. GOP candidates have largely abandoned their tax reform bill. And Mitch McConnell’s foreshadowing of Social Security and Medicare cuts has only solidified Dems’ point that the GOP cut taxes for billionaires at the expense of working Americans.
Not one issue on which the GOP has campaigned has resonated as effectively as Democrats’ message on healthcare. One week out, Republicans’ #1 selling point to voters seems to be “we’re with Trump.” That strategy doesn’t set you up for success, especially in a cycle that’s shaping up to be a referendum on an unpopular incumbent and backlash to the party in power.
- GOP Senate candidates have resorted to lying to and misleading voters. This is the surest sign that the GOP knows they are on the wrong side of the issues that have shaped this campaign cycle. After nearly a decade of incessant attempts to undo President Obama’s legacy healthcare law, Republicans are now scrambling to rewrite their records, swearing up and down that they support affordable healthcare and protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.
For nearly every Republican in a top Senate race, that means lying: Martha McSally about her support for a GOP bill to repeal the ACA with no meaningful replacement; Rick Scott about his gubernatorial crusade against the ACA; Josh Hawley about his role in a lawsuit that could gut Obamacare; Mike Braun about a company health insurance plan that came with $10,000 deductibles; Kevin Cramer about his vote endangering pre-existing conditions protections; Dean Heller about his sham pre-existing conditions bill that did far more harm than good; Ted Cruz who shut down the government over the ACA; Marsha Blackburn about Republican support for pre-existing conditions protections.
As voters go to the polls next week, the top takeaway from this cycle should be this: the GOP candidates seeking to represent voters in the Senate have resorted to brazen lies and disingenuous promises in their desperation to retain power. Americans deserve better than their cynical politics.
ONE FOR THE ROAD: “One Day More,” by Les Miserables cast (1985).