2020-07-09 04:50:21 UTC
The debate among smart political handicappers is no longer whether former Vice
President Joe Biden is a clear favorite over President Donald Trump to win the
White House in the fall.
It's now whether Trump might lose big enough to drag down all Republicans on the
ballot in November, creating a hole that it could take years for the GOP to dig
"This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue
wave," wrote The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter on Wednesday. "Republican
strategists we've spoken with this week think Trump is close to the point of no
return. A couple of others wondered if Trump had reached his 'Katrina' moment: a
permanent loss of trust and faith of the majority of voters."
Backing up that prediction, The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan campaign
tip sheet, moved a series of states in Biden's direction: Wisconsin and
Pennsylvania moved from "Toss Up" to "Lean Democrat" and Georgia was moved from
"Lean Republican" to "Toss Up."
Those moves -- as well as a few others in Maine and Nebraska congressional
districts -- bring Biden to 279 electoral votes in Cook's tabulation, nine more
than he needs to be elected president.
But again, it's more than just that Trump looks like a major underdog for the
White House. It's that his numbers are now in an area where he could cost
Republicans the Senate and a number of House seats.
As Walter notes:
"In talking with strategists on both sides this last week, it's also clear that
Trump is dragging Republican congressional candidates with him as well.
"Plugged in strategists on both sides tell us that Trump is running behind in
districts he easily carried in 2016."
The problem for Republicans is that even as they see this potential electoral
tsunami forming, they don't have many options to change their fates.
As Stu Rothenberg wrote recently, any attempt by congressional Republicans to
argue to voters that they are a necessary balance to a Democrat in the White
House (as Republicans did to Bob Dole's losing effort in the late stages of
1996) would fail.
"There is widespread agreement that the party, voters, and national politics
have changed so dramatically over the past two decades that such a strategy
would be unthinkable in an era of polarization and anger," Stu concluded.
The Point: The only thing worse than watching a political tsunami build is
standing on the beach and knowing you are hopeless to stop it. That's where
Republicans find themselves at the moment.