‘Trump-agnostic’: GOP candidates faced with dilemma over how to disavow president without losing his voters
As backlash against Republican President Donald Trump grows, right-wing organizations have decided they must at least partially run against the Republican standard bearer to have any hope of saving the House Republican majority.
“The trick for Republicans and their allied outside groups is figuring out how to avoid conspicuously embracing the president without alienating conservative voters who would view any overt rebuff as a betrayal,” the New York Times reported.
Both sides are viewing suburban America as the battleground for the 2018 midterms.
Both sides are also viewing the June 20th special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district as a potential bellweather due to the suburban nature of the district. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is facing off in the special election runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff, who can close to winning an outright majority in the first round of voting.
“The Congressional Leadership Fund plans to have at least 20 offices up and running by the end of the year in districts across the country, including one in Roswell that will stay open after the June election. Those offices will be primarily in districts that are a lot like Georgia’s Sixth: suburban centers populated with highly educated, well-off voters who are not terribly enthusiastic about Mr. Trump,” The Times reported, mentioning the highly watched special election. “Those districts, in places like California, New Jersey and Florida, will be the terrain on which the Republican House majority is won or lost.”
The nature of the 2018 terrain is such that Republican-allied organizations have to walk a very fine line between not alienating mainstream voters by making the race a referendum on supporting President Trump, while not alienating conservative voters by positioning GOP candidates too far from President Trump.
“The message that groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Congressional Leadership Fund are pushing in Georgia is Trump-agnostic,” The Times explained. “The goal is to remind conservative-leaning voters of the common enemy they have in Washington Democrats, even if the headlines about Mr. Trump are too ubiquitous to avoid.”
The Times story suggests the GOP plan is to “narrowcast” their voter outreach by giving a pro-Trump message only to devoted Republicans. Will such an approach work?
“I wouldn’t bet any money on this one,” retired sixth-grade science teacher and Americans for Prosperity volunteer Bob Harris told The Times. “The Democrats smell blood in the water.”