Toobin: Cohn takes moral stand for aluminum, not racism

The Lead political panel discusses staff turnover at the White House

Posted: Mar 9, 2018 2:08 PM
Updated: Mar 9, 2018 2:25 PM

In the departure of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, exasperated Republicans see a troublesome Trump trifecta: personnel, policy and political chaos that GOP leaders increasingly fear is turning an already difficult midterm election year disastrous.

Exhibit A in testing how that White House chaos plays at the polls will be the Pennsylvania special election next Tuesday. There, Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone are facing off in a tight race in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.

President Donald Trump carried the district by 20 points just 16 months ago, but Republicans are increasingly suggesting they will lose.

"PA-18 loss coming," was the morning response of a seasoned GOP hand, a campaign hand with access to the latest data.

It is the data, both cumulative and recent, that have smart Republicans so nervous, almost resigned. The most worrisome, and scathing, White House critiques are private, shared only with the promise of anonymity. But the public comments by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leading elected Republicans also have become more critical, which is a telling sign of the GOP angst.

They get the history: First term midterm elections are almost always bad for the party in power.

And they understood this President's horrible poll numbers make defying history a giant challenge. So the plan was a disciplined year focused on promoting the 2017 tax cuts and encouraging economic news, and avoiding as much as possible anything that either demoralized the Republican base or invigorated an already energetic and enthusiastic Democratic base.

But the President has consistently refused to go along.

The tariffs and other protectionist measures being debated at the White House are anathema to establishment Republicans and carry the risk of triggering a trade war that hurts Americans when they shop and Republicans in November.

And the timing of the trade tumult and yet another senior White House departure, just as primary season opens, has more and more Republicans using alarmist and despondent tones in their midterm analyses.

The consensus of a half dozen GOP strategists contacted after the Cohn resignation Tuesday was that there would be six to 10 additional retirements of House GOP incumbents if PA-18 goes blue. One of these strategists said he was already aware of "at least four" likely retirements. Keep an eye on the North Carolina and Florida delegations, was the suggestion.

"He is making losing the majority more likely by risking economic growth through higher prices and higher interest rates," said a Republican player in Washington with three decades of campaign and GOP administration experience. "He is creating the reality for his impeachment by the House. Hill Rs are flabbergasted. And when Rs lose the safe PA seat, panic will become epidemic."

The Republican establishment, of course, has been wrong about Trump and the wisdom of his political calculations before. But there is near certainty now that 2018 is not 2016, by any stretch, and the attributes and instincts that led to the President's astounding win are now exacerbating an anti-Trump political environment that puts GOP congressional majorities at risk.

The public numbers are bad enough; both Quinnipiac and Monmouth released new polling Wednesday showing significant Democratic leads when voters are asked how they would vote for Congress if the election were today.

Private data and focus groups make things look as bad or worse, according to several leading GOP strategists.

A trade fight that pits the establishment vs. the "America First" or Breitbart wing divides the party in a midterm cycle where base turnout is essential. Yes, Democrats have plenty of family feuds, too, and have months to squander their early midterm advantage. But to study midterm elections is to learn one undeniable fact: The biggest factor by far is the President's political standing. Republicans had plenty of family feuds in 2010 and 2014, but anti-Obama sentiment carried the day and took Republicans to their House and Senate majorities, respectively.

Some Republicans say the specifics are less the issue than the constant chaos.

"A busy, professional suburban woman who has to manage a household, a job and more looks at chaos and churning and attacking and is repulsed," said a GOP pollster involved in several challenging races this year.

Republican leaders have tried to impress upon the President for months that a midterm year is most unlike a presidential year. Their verdict as the first voting in 2018 got underway this week is that he doesn't understand or doesn't care.

"His instincts, which worked brilliantly in 2016, are failing him," said the GOP source with the long mix of campaign and government service.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1085733

Reported Deaths: 19441
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1261201400
Cuyahoga1124072120
Hamilton801491206
Montgomery515591014
Summit47292946
Lucas42275788
Butler38396584
Stark32412907
Lorain25046481
Warren24313300
Mahoning21629588
Lake20725369
Clermont19803238
Delaware18537133
Licking16436212
Fairfield16230200
Trumbull16082468
Medina15309264
Greene15099244
Clark14017299
Wood13113189
Portage12890203
Allen11675232
Richland11382199
Miami10686217
Wayne8843211
Columbiana8816229
Muskingum8815133
Pickaway8582121
Marion8539135
Tuscarawas8487244
Erie7917154
Hancock6929127
Ross6858155
Ashtabula6830170
Geauga6697148
Scioto6417101
Belmont5920167
Union571048
Lawrence5560102
Jefferson5544151
Huron5439119
Darke5364123
Sandusky5359121
Seneca5290121
Athens520058
Washington5160109
Auglaize491984
Mercer480885
Shelby470093
Knox4495110
Madison436661
Putnam4287100
Fulton423969
Ashland423189
Defiance421097
Crawford3978107
Brown395057
Logan382376
Preble379898
Clinton372963
Ottawa367479
Highland355662
Williams340275
Champaign333458
Guernsey316253
Jackson312652
Perry295350
Morrow285639
Fayette282250
Hardin271464
Henry269366
Coshocton265357
Holmes2611101
Van Wert243763
Adams238552
Pike237734
Gallia235949
Wyandot231555
Hocking215462
Carroll191647
Paulding173340
Meigs144940
Noble133337
Monroe132342
Harrison108537
Morgan108523
Vinton83515
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Angola
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 39°
Huntington
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 38°
Decatur
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Van Wert
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
Frost is likely Tuesday night as lows fall into the low to mid 30s.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events