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.

Cases: 592709

Reported Deaths: 9340
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion818931301
Lake44495668
Allen32035543
Hamilton28533305
St. Joseph26847372
Elkhart24132341
Vanderburgh18759213
Tippecanoe17482122
Johnson14583285
Porter14464160
Hendricks13931242
Madison10600213
Vigo10513174
Clark10300132
Monroe9109108
Delaware8861133
LaPorte8825155
Howard7916138
Kosciusko788877
Warrick648290
Hancock642597
Bartholomew629294
Floyd6184105
Wayne5956157
Grant5848110
Dubois546172
Boone536367
Morgan519491
Henry496164
Marshall494984
Cass473160
Noble462157
Dearborn461344
Jackson416145
Shelby404279
Lawrence382075
Clinton366340
Gibson357856
DeKalb338563
Montgomery336651
Harrison332642
Knox328239
Miami311243
Steuben308742
Adams296535
Whitley295525
Wabash293945
Ripley293745
Putnam286847
Huntington285058
Jasper284434
White268438
Daviess262172
Jefferson253138
Decatur242882
Fayette242448
Greene235660
Posey232826
Wells230147
LaGrange224761
Clay218732
Scott217337
Randolph209041
Jennings193235
Sullivan189331
Spencer182717
Fountain180425
Washington178218
Starke172041
Jay163122
Fulton160230
Owen160137
Carroll153015
Orange152133
Rush150818
Perry148727
Vermillion145533
Franklin143833
Parke12908
Tipton128432
Pike114125
Blackford108022
Pulaski95137
Newton89721
Brown85730
Benton84510
Crawford7669
Martin70413
Warren6607
Switzerland6235
Union6145
Ohio4707
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 831066

Reported Deaths: 10281
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97996705
Cuyahoga826131062
Hamilton61629439
Montgomery41873399
Summit33603729
Lucas30316597
Butler29859228
Stark24951413
Warren18974139
Lorain18217212
Mahoning16815336
Lake15491135
Clermont15235104
Delaware1392977
Licking12765132
Trumbull12445306
Fairfield1226080
Greene11682133
Medina11191165
Clark10648264
Wood10000154
Allen9579126
Portage8923106
Miami890573
Richland8848116
Marion7341113
Tuscarawas7162174
Columbiana7117124
Pickaway705750
Wayne6815165
Muskingum676342
Erie5943118
Hancock540490
Ross532787
Scioto523663
Geauga487755
Darke458589
Ashtabula440572
Lawrence436652
Union432828
Mercer425887
Sandusky424462
Auglaize415159
Seneca415155
Huron413638
Shelby411021
Jefferson404566
Belmont397840
Washington373140
Athens36549
Putnam365372
Madison341429
Knox337722
Ashland333838
Fulton327143
Defiance320178
Crawford315169
Preble312434
Brown298219
Logan293229
Ottawa283034
Clinton279643
Williams271166
Highland263618
Jackson258343
Guernsey244025
Champaign242827
Fayette228029
Morrow22404
Perry222618
Holmes219462
Henry211947
Hardin205033
Coshocton198920
Van Wert198044
Gallia191626
Wyandot191449
Adams165815
Pike165217
Hocking164423
Carroll150116
Paulding139921
Noble118340
Meigs103521
Monroe96129
Harrison8598
Morgan79628
Vinton67213
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