The implication is that Blackburn will put Trump loyalty over the state’s interests.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, a Marist-NBC News poll has rotten news for Republicans, who hope nominating moderate Rep. Martha McSally would allow them to keep retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat. NBC News reports: “Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is ahead of all three potential Republican opponents — Kelli Ward by 10 points among registered voters (48 percent to 38 percent), Rep. Martha McSally by 11 points (49 percent to 38 percent) and Joe Arpaio by 25 points (57 percent to 32 percent).” A Republican losing by double digits in Arizona should send a wake-up call to establishment Republicans there — they should rally around McSally and then run from Trump.
In Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), the weakest GOP incumbent, is best remembered for taking every position possible on Obamacare. He sports a lousy 37 percent approval rating and an even worse “deserves to be reelected” score of only 24 percent, according to Morning Consult polling. In a state Hillary Clinton won with the help of organized labor, it is far from clear that Trump’s campaigning for Heller will be helpful.
Several Democratic incumbents, meanwhile, are breathing easier. The Marist-NBC News poll has a bit of good news for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who has trailed current Gov. Rick Scott in some polls and is fast becoming the incumbent whom Democrats worry about most. Marist-NBC News has Nelson up, 49 percent to 45 percent. Other polls show Nelson up 2 or down 5 points.
Many Democratic incumbents in states Trump carried who were once thought to be vulnerable are now doing quite well. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is up 11 points while Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) led by double digits in a May poll in a Wisconsin landscape that looks increasingly hostile toward Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has a solid in lead in the two most recent polls. It is too early to say these Democrats are safe, but they are surely less of a concern than Democrats had feared six months or a year ago.
It is noteworthy that by a significant margin in three key states — Arizona (52/36), Ohio (51/35) and Florida (49/40) — voters prefer Congress as a check on Trump rather than assisting him in pushing through his agenda. Only about a third of voters in these states think Trump deserves reelection.
Several Democrats, however, are battling for their political lives. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) leads within the margin of error (getting a big boost from the resignation of former governor Eric Greitens, who resigned because of a sexual assault scandal; Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) are in statistical ties in the RealClearPolitics average (although Democrats rightly or wrongly seem unworried about the Heitkamp race).
In other words, the three GOP seats that Republicans are worried about look very dicey for them, while Democrats are seeing worrisome seats move closer to them. With so many seats to defend and so many of those in red states, Democrats will have a steep climb to pick up the net-two seats needed to win the majority. Nevertheless, it is quite possible Democrats will stay even at 49 seats or perhaps net one seat (forcing Vice President Pence to be there to break tie after tie). Virtually no one on either side would have predicted that last year.
All caveats apply (e.g. it’s very early, unforeseen events can dramatically change the race), but if Trump keeps on pummeling Hispanic immigrants, Republicans in states such as Florida and Arizona will have a tougher-than-expected time. And if Trump’s tariffs wreak havoc on the economy, Republicans all over the country better brace themselves. Right now, a good economy is just about the only thing keeping Republicans afloat.