On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that some Senate Republicans running for re-election are caught between trying to appease Trump supporters distrustful of their loyalty, and avoiding alienating everyone else.
“For nearly four years, these Republicans have been obsequious toward Trump, almost never criticizing him publicly and professing ignorance when questioned about an incendiary remark or tweet by the president. They operated in fear that any tough words would immediately draw the president’s wrath — and anger his MAGA followers,” reported Paul Kane. “And in recent months, GOP senators who first won in 2014 and now face their first reelection have rhetorically remained supportive of Trump as he fell behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden. But slowly but surely, the president vanished from their campaign advertising and most communication with voters as they stressed their work in delivering results during the coronavirus pandemic for their states.”
“For several Republicans in key races, that strategy has left the incumbent in a curious position where they have yet to win over enough of Trump’s supporters in their races and are lagging behind the president, even in states where he is also struggling,” continued the report.
Two of the senators confronted with this struggle are Martha McSally of Arizona, who is struggling to fend off a Democratic challenge from astronaut Mark Kelly, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is facing former state Sen. Cal Cunningham.
“In an NBC News/Marist poll in late July, Biden led Trump, 51 percent to 44 percent in North Carolina, while Tillis trailed Democrat Cal Cunningham, 5o percent to 41 percent,” said the report. “In Arizona, a CNBC poll in early August found Biden leading Trump, 48 percent to 44 percent, while McSally trailed Kelly, 49 percent to 43 percent.”
Democrats need to pick up a net total of four seats to flip control of the Senate, or five if Trump wins re-election and gets the tie-breaking vote. Recent forecasts suggest the battle for control is a toss-up.