Can Republicans in tough races survive Trump's racial provocations?

Republicans were bracing for a massive surge in minority turnout in this fall's midterm elections. They were worried ...

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 10:18 AM
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 10:18 AM

Republicans were bracing for a massive surge in minority turnout in this fall's midterm elections. They were worried that voters didn't understand their tax reform law or give the GOP credit for a strong economy.

And that was before President Donald Trump ignited yet another controversy that Republicans lawmakers and strategists say will worsen both problems.

Republicans fear the President's vulgar remarks overshadow Republican victories

Results in 2017 elections are giving GOP strategists something to worry about

After telling lawmakers at a White House meeting last week that he wanted immigrants from largely white Norway -- not Africa or Haiti -- Trump once again faces charges of racism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, this time over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Republicans working on 2018 House and Senate races say they've accepted that there's no way to convince voters -- particularly those who make up an energized Democratic base -- that Trump isn't racist. After a response to white supremacists' rally last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, they said, it's too late.

More worrying for the GOP now is that Trump's remarks hijacked several days' worth of opportunities to tell an economic story the party views as its central argument in this year's midterms: The stock market is booming. Newly passed tax cuts are just about to take effect. And businesses have responded to the tax measure by announcing bonus checks.

"From an outcome basis, the President has a lot to take credit for," said former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who chaired the House GOP's campaign arm. "But to do that, you have to stay on message."

"It's like this tax bill: Nobody's read the damn thing. Most people benefit from it, yet they don't like it," he said. "Why? Because of who's saying what, in the messaging."

"There are just so many distractions away from the positive stories this administration could be talking about. And that's not the media's fault -- that's the president's fault," said Republican strategist Alex Conant, a veteran of Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign.

With 10 months before the midterms, there's ample time for Republicans -- particularly well-funded candidates -- to sell voters on a strong economy and distance themselves from Trump.

But 2017's elections offered worrying signs for the GOP.

Strong turnout from minority voters -- a key element of the Democratic base -- played a crucial role in the party's wins in the Virginia governor's race and the Alabama US Senate special election in December.

If that trend extends into 2018, it would damage the GOP in states with Latino-heavy electorates, like Arizona and Nevada, where two Republican-held Senate seats are up for grabs, and California, where Democrats are targeting seven GOP-held House seats.

In generic Democrat vs. Republican match-ups, Quinnipiac University found in a poll released last week that voters favor Democrats by a 17-point margin. Other pollsters have found a similarly massive gap -- which is tied in part to Trump's approval rating.

Headlines over his characterization of largely black countries won't help reverse those figures, Republicans said.

"The President's comments are problematic because they're unsympathetic and reinforces what 65% of the country already believes about him," said Reed Galen, a Republican strategist who was the deputy campaign manager of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential bid.

"That it happened over the course of MLK weekend is important because it pulls in all of the cumulative statements and acts," Galen said, "since his campaign began two and a half years ago."

Davis said the Virginia elections, which wiped out 15 Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates, showed that "there is no escaping" Trump.

"They were messengers," he said. "People wanted to send a message to Trump."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 69975

Reported Deaths: 3007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15152724
Lake7222273
Elkhart468079
Allen3695160
St. Joseph322479
Hamilton2572104
Vanderburgh180013
Hendricks1796105
Cass17609
Johnson1674118
Porter121339
Clark112646
Tippecanoe112311
Madison87265
LaPorte85029
Howard82965
Kosciusko82412
Marshall75222
Bartholomew74947
Floyd72945
Monroe69930
Delaware66552
Dubois65512
Boone64946
Noble63829
Hancock63438
Jackson5564
LaGrange54910
Warrick54030
Shelby53027
Vigo52810
Grant51129
Dearborn47728
Morgan44034
Clinton3883
Henry36519
White34910
Montgomery34321
Wayne33710
Lawrence33227
Decatur32232
Harrison30422
Miami2602
Scott25210
Daviess25119
Greene24034
Putnam2348
Franklin23113
DeKalb2224
Jasper2162
Jennings21412
Gibson2044
Steuben2033
Ripley1947
Perry17212
Starke1707
Orange16424
Fayette1637
Posey1610
Wabash1613
Jefferson1532
Carroll1522
Fulton1502
Whitley1496
Wells1442
Knox1400
Tipton1266
Huntington1193
Washington1171
Spencer1163
Newton11410
Randolph1094
Clay1025
Adams842
Sullivan831
Jay820
Owen821
Rush804
Pulaski751
Brown701
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford562
Ohio564
Pike500
Parke491
Vermillion470
Crawford440
Switzerland430
Martin420
Union330
Warren191
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96305

Reported Deaths: 3596
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17619517
Cuyahoga13011487
Hamilton9297249
Lucas5114320
Montgomery411485
Summit3399218
Marion290145
Butler277861
Mahoning2470253
Pickaway237442
Stark1756137
Warren168935
Lorain166577
Columbiana160760
Trumbull1465105
Fairfield128529
Delaware124118
Licking117947
Clark110414
Lake106437
Wood97358
Clermont87411
Medina86935
Miami78837
Tuscarawas75914
Portage73460
Allen68242
Greene64411
Belmont59126
Mercer56113
Richland55911
Ashtabula55145
Erie54627
Geauga54044
Wayne51758
Ross4314
Huron3835
Ottawa36525
Sandusky35416
Athens3521
Darke34827
Hancock3443
Madison34310
Holmes3266
Lawrence2340
Auglaize2335
Union2281
Jefferson2122
Muskingum2071
Scioto2041
Putnam19817
Washington19822
Knox1897
Coshocton1866
Seneca1773
Preble1752
Crawford1685
Shelby1684
Morrow1632
Hardin15812
Clinton1546
Champaign1512
Fulton1431
Highland1411
Logan1362
Ashland1353
Defiance1334
Williams1293
Wyandot1287
Brown1201
Hocking1149
Guernsey1137
Perry1133
Carroll1105
Henry1102
Fayette1040
Monroe9118
Pike730
Jackson700
Van Wert701
Paulding640
Gallia621
Adams592
Vinton302
Meigs290
Harrison221
Morgan210
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
56° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 54°
Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events