Here's a measure of just how unpopular Donald Trump is: In some races across the country, Republicans are trying to tie their Democratic opponents to him.
This week, the Democrat in an Orange County, Fla., property appraisal race (yes, property appraisal) was the subject of a mailer by Republicans trying to link him to Trump. “Rick Singh = Donald Trump,” it reads.
Last week, CNN reported that the father of Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Democratic congressman from Florida running for the U.S. Senate there, was pictured with Trump at an event, despite Murphy's denying that his family had business ties with Trump. A GOP operative seized on the photo, essentially yielding a Republican attacking a Democrat for being associated with a Republican presidential nominee.
When it's politically convenient, the Republican Party in Washington is all too happy to drop Trump.
Earlier this month, House Republicans' campaign arm started running a TV ad praising one of their most vulnerable incumbents, Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), for standing up to, not with, Trump.
We count several Senate Republicans — most prominently, Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) — campaigning on a promise to be a check and balance on President Hillary Clinton, with the underlying message being that they think Trump is going to lose.
Although these examples of Republicans ditching Trump or trying to toss him off to the other party are a sign of the times, we also do not think it is going to become a widespread trend. As I wrote last month:
Many House Republicans are hanging on despite Trump's dip in the polls. Post-ABC News polling after The 2005 Tape shows likely voters favor a generic Democratic member of Congress over a generic Republican by just a few points — hardly a wave. In fact, in some competitive districts, Trump is actually leading, like Nebraska's 2nd, where Trump is up four points over Clinton and so is the Republican trying to unseat Rep. Brad Ashford (D). In the Senate, Republicans are largely defying Trump's gravitational pull.
Of course, sometimes Republican attempts to drop Trump backfire on them. (See Rep. Joseph J. Heck in the competitive Nevada Senate race trying to twist himself into a pretzel to please both Trump supporters and moderate voters.)
The message from some Republicans is still that they may share a ticket with Trump, or even endorse him, but that does not mean they are, you know — with him.