ShareThis Page
Featured Commentary

Ed Rogers: 'Trump effect' causing productive panic in GOP

| Monday, April 9, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Judge Rebecca Dallet greets supporters on the way to the podium to speak as she celebrates at Good City Brewing, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Milwaukee. Dallet defeated Michael Screnock on Tuesday for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, shrinking the court's conservative majority and giving Democrats a jolt of energy heading into the fall election. (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)
Judge Rebecca Dallet greets supporters on the way to the podium to speak as she celebrates at Good City Brewing, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Milwaukee. Dallet defeated Michael Screnock on Tuesday for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, shrinking the court's conservative majority and giving Democrats a jolt of energy heading into the fall election. (Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

I believe in the power of panic. And I believe a little productive panic within the GOP is in order.

Last week, Democrats won big in a race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It may seem a little off the beaten path and not particularly consequential, but as The Washington Post's Amber Phillips reported, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is “outright hitting the panic button for his party.”

Well, good. The GOP's loss in Wisconsin is a harbinger of what we might face in November.

As I always say, what's supposed to happen tends to happen. And in midterms, the president's party almost always takes a beating — especially when voters have a largely negative opinion of their president.

Remember, when a president's job approval is below 50 percent, his party loses, on average, 40 House seats and five Senate seats.

Compounding the issue of a historical midterm bias favoring Democrats this year, Republicans may be victims of their own success.

“Purple” states that overperformed during the Obama era by electing Republican governors, state legislators, U.S. senators and some U.S. House members are likely to experience a correction. In Wisconsin, that correction appears to be underway.

Democrats didn't just scrape by to beat Republicans there last week. They won by more than 11 points after already winning a January special election for the state Senate in a district that President Trump won by 17 points.

It isn't just a red light flashing on the GOP's dashboard — a fire alarm is now audible.

Trump isn't to blame for every GOP loss thus far or every loss that will occur in November. But there is such a thing as the “Trump effect,” which is having a negative impact on Republican campaigns — and it isn't fueled by policy disagreements.

At the human level, many traditional, center-right voters find Trump ill-suited for the office he holds. They see him as exhausting and insufferable, neither a role model nor inspirational. Even among those who think he is the bull in the china shop that we need, few find pride in his performance.

Ultimately, these sentiments will suppress turnout among Republican voters and energize Democrats.

Plenty of Republican and independent voters are more interested in Trump providing real results on the economy, trade and national security issues than in seeing his latest tweet or hearing about whom he is going to fire next.

But those tweets, firings, rants, rages and tangents motivate Democrats and anti-Trump independents. Turnout in Wisconsin last week was the second-highest for a comparable statewide election since 2000.

It is difficult to say whether the “blue wave” will be as bad as some predict, but based on what has happened in Wisconsin, Alabama, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Republicans are in a position where a little panic couldn't hurt.

Ed Rogers is a political consultant and veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me