Friday, August 5, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Campaign Update 20

With the current controversies surrounding the Republican
presidential nominee Donald Trump, there are signs that a
quiet but massive effort is being made by GOP activists,
donors and PACs, to concentrate on U.S. house and senate,
as well as state legislature, races in November. The
conservative party currently controls these institutions, and
the prospect of the Democratic Party possibly keeping the
White House in 2017, has provoked an unprecedented effort
to prioritize the down-ballot races in 2016. The liberal media
is not reporting this, and GOP strategists are strategically not
yet calling attention to their efforts. There is considerable
historical basis for this strategy. Landslide victories in the
presidential contests in the recent past have not always meant
down-ballot disaster for the losing political party. The GOP
majority in the U.S. house is currently so large that some
Democratic gains were expected even if the GOP presidential
nominee were to win. With a liberal win in November, that net
gain might be larger, but there are still Democratic seats that
could be lost (such as Minnesota District 8) even should Hillary
Clinton win. Although many more conservative U.S. senate
seats are up for re-election this cycle, there seems to be only
limited opportunity for liberals to pick up the necessary four
or five seats to regain the majority. With polls indicating who
the vulnerable GOP incumbents are, that party’s leaders and
operatives appear to be putting enormous resources, both
financial and feet-on-the-ground, into these races, resources
the Democrats, concentrating on the top of the ticket, might
not be able to match. A second factor that might help the GOP
down-ballot effort is the unprecedented number of vulnerable
incumbents putting political distance between themselves
and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The issue of who would
nominate new U.S. supreme court justices, and whether they
could be confirmed by the new senate, remains a major issue
in the November campaign on both sides.

While conservatives have high hopes of a few pick-ups in U.S.
house seats in November, they face several almost-certain
losses. With the GOP party primary in Minnesota slated for
August 9, maverick Jason Lewis has the party endorsement
and is expected to win the primary in District 2. Openly
supporting the disruptive GOP Freedom Caucus, Lewis would
not have the support of many conservatives in November,
and likely lose to Democratic nominee Angie Craig. Retiring
GOP incumbent John Kline and party activists are supporting
corporate executive Darlene Miller --- who many observers
consider more likely to give Ms. Craig a close race in November.
Voting is expected to be lquite ight in the August primary, and
this further favors Mr. Lewis, although a massive effort by
Miller supporters could produce an upset.

While most non-Germans might sympathize with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s humanitarian stand on
immigrants, and understand that nation’s sensitivity to
humanitarian issues seven decades after World War II, there
is some serious question about how long she can maintain her
current open immigration policy in the face of rapidly rising
opposition to it in the German electorate. Frequent terrorist
events in Germany and elsewhere in Europe are fanning not
only anti-immigrant feeling, but are fueling new nationalist
groups throughout the European Union.

Although it would be historically unprecedented, and even
now seems very unlikely, the recent controversies surrounding
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign
have provoked some speculation of what might happen if the
New York billionaire were to resign from the ticket. The
technical answer is that the Republican National Committee
(RNC) would choose a successor by majority vote. The list of
possible successors is large, and includes House Speaker Paul
Ryan, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, Ohio Governor John Kasich,
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Speaker Newt
Gingrich. A compromise choice not on this list would also be
possible. A big question to be answered in such a circumstance
would be the status of GOP vice presidential nominee Mike
Pence --- although his positive performance so far might lead
to his remaining on the ballot no matter who is chosen to head
the ticket.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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