The Salt Lake Tribune isn't a mouthpiece for the LDS Church; but it is Utah's biggest newspaper and yesterday it endorsed Hillary Clinton. The mouthpiece for the LDS Church is the Deseret News, which is owned by the LDS Church, and it urged its readers last week not to vote for Trump, telling them that “considering his conduct and comportment, we do not believe Trump holds the ideals and values of this community.” Yesterday's Tribune went further: “It is time to get serious,” the editors wrote. “It has been amusing, to a degree, to watch the circus that was the Republican primary process struggle and fuss and finally produce such a disappointment to be its presidential nominee… It is time to make a reasonable, considerate, realistic vote for president of the United States… There is certainly not a perfect choice but, at this point, the only candidate who comes close to being qualified and fit for the post is Hillary Clinton… [Trump's] entire campaign was based on divisive, bigoted and insulting rhetoric. On lies about how bad things are. On a promise to fix things by basically being a dictator. It was all designed to inflame a vocal minority of us who haven't adjusted to the fact that the America where white males brought home the bacon from secure factory jobs– and didn't have to deal with a globe of different ethnic backgrounds– is gone for good.” A new poll of likely Utah voters shows Hillary and Trump tied.
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt told MSNBC viewers yesterday that “Republican poll numbers are tanking all over the country… This is going to be a blow out election.” Despite an utterly incompetent DCCC, the Republican majority in the House is in real jeopardy right now– not in Utah, but nationally.
Two respected polls that are measuring this, Gallup and Ipsos were just released and show generic congressional polling swinging to the Democrats– even before the toxic war between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump broke into the open, with Trump actually urging his fan-boys to support down-ballot Republican candidates who back him but to not vote for Republicans who aren't backing him.
The Ipsos poll question (again, likely voters) was “if the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in your district where you live?” 46% answered Democrat and 36% answered Republican. (It's even worse for the GOP when registered voters are asked– 47-34%.)
Gallup found that only 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. But that isn't the worst of it for Ryan and McConnell and their endangered majorities.
Supporters of the majority party in Congress tend to rate the institution more favorably than do supporters of the minority party, but the GOP bucked the trend when its supporters' approval did not improve after the party took the second chamber of Congress in 2014. Despite controlling both the House and Senate, Republicans (14%) are currently less likely than Democrats (22%) to approve of the job Congress is doing.
Yesterday, The Hill reported that “Steve Bannon, the chairman of the right-wing news outlet Breitbart who became CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, gave explicit orders to his staff to destroy Speaker Paul Ryan. On editorial conference calls, the Breitbart chairman would often say 'Paul Ryan is the enemy,' according to a source who worked with Bannon at the news organization. In December 2015, weeks after Ryan became Speaker, Bannon wrote in an internal Breitbart email obtained by The Hill that the 'long game' for his news site was for Ryan to be 'gone' by the spring.”
A former Breitbart staffer said Bannon used to rage against Ryan all the time.
Bannon views Ryan as a leader of an elite globalist cabal determined to sell out America by opening its borders on immigration and trade.
“Bannon has Alex Jones-level paranoia about Paul Ryan,” the source said, referring to the right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist who runs the pro-Trump website Infowars.
“He goes on these amazing rants,” the source added of Bannon. “He thinks Paul Ryan is part of a conspiracy with George Soros and Paul Singer, in which elitists want to bring one world government.”
…Another source close to Bannon predicted that more Republicans would follow the lead of California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who called Ryan “cowardly” for saying he’d no longer defend Trump.
“Ryan’s agenda is not in line with the American worker. It’s in line with the Wall Street wing of the permanent political class,” the source close to Bannon said.
“But it’s not just Ryan,” the source added, to characterize Bannon’s thinking. “Every institution in American politics has been exposed as fraudulent and working against the American people.”
“Trump is running against the evil empire,” the source continued. “The entire machine stands against him, and Paul Ryan is the face of the evil empire. But so is Hillary Clinton and so are her allies throughout the mainstream media.”
Establishment Republicans in Washington are terrified about how dirty the war is set to get between Trump and Ryan, now that Bannon is firmly in the driver’s seat.
Bannon believes Ryan masterminded a failed plot to bring down Trump. Bannon thinks this is partly because Ryan wants to rid the Republican Party of populism and partly because he thinks Ryan wants to improve his chances of running for president as a GOP savior in 2020.
…On Monday, Breitbart published a story with the headline: “Falwell: Lewd Trump tape part of GOP coup against Donald, no ‘coincidence’ it came right before Paul Ryan joint appearance.”
“Breitbart has always been the tip of the spear in the conservative grassroots world,” a source close to Bannon told The Hill on Tuesday.
People who’ve worked with Bannon say it’s foolish to underestimate the lengths Bannon will go to destroy the GOP establishment.
“He’s an instrument of destruction,” said Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart staffer who fell out with Bannon.
“Bannon has always wanted to burn everything down,” he added, “and any chance he has to wriggle this into a way to destroy Paul Ryan, he’ll absolutely do it.”
…For the last few weeks, one thing is sure: Trump will be campaigning Breitbart-style, with Breitbart’s chief provocateur by his side.
“This is the scene from King Kong,” says Shapiro, “where the Republican Party thought that they had captured King Kong and chained him and they put him on stage for everyone to fear the awesome might of King Kong.”
“And then King Kong breaks free,” Shapiro adds, “and starts trampling people in the audience.”
Example: Over the weekend both of Alaska's U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan withdrew their endorsements of Trump and then resigned from leadership posts in the state Republican Party.
Example: A new PPP survey of likely Nevada voters completed yesterday, shows that Trump's deplorables are abandoning GOP Senate candidate Joe Heck in revenge for him abandoning Trump. Almost half (48%) of Trump voters in Nevada say they're less likely to vote for Heck because of his unendorsement of Trump. Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is now beating Heck 43-39%.
Heck’s disavowal of Donald Trump is hurting him in the race. 34% of voters say that makes them less likely to vote for Heck, compared to only 19% who say it makes them more likely to support him. Among Trump voters, 48% say Heck’s statement makes them less likely to vote for him.
You can see the negative impact of Heck’s new stance on Trump in his numbers among Republicans. In our tracking last week Heck was already under performing within his own party, winning only 76-13. This week he’s fallen even further to having just a 70-15 advantage among voters of his own party.
The impact on Heck’s favorability rating with GOP voters is even more pronounced, dropping from 71/19 to 63/25. Cortez Masto now has a net favorability rating 7 points better than Heck’s with the overall electorate.
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by an identical 4 point margin to Cortez Masto’s lead, at 47/43. This is the first time we’ve found Clinton and Cortez Masto polling on par with each other in our Nevada tracking.
Example: the L.A. Times is reporting that after polls showed that Trump would win if only men were allowed to vote, deplorables started tweeting #repealthe19th, referring to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. It should be recalled that one of Trump's top billionaire backers, the very crazy far right Libertarian hedge fund crook who started PayPal– and who Trump has said he'd nominate to be a Supreme Court Judge– Peter Thiel, once famously asserted that giving women the right to vote– through the 19th amendment in 1920– was a blow to democracy.
Trump's accelerating war against the Ryan and the GOP establishment– which is what Bannon and Mercer have steered him into for their “long game”– is endangering the Republicans' hold on Congress. On Tuesday night Trump was on Fox News with O'Reilly yammering that he “wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with a lot of these people, that I can tell you, including Ryan– especially Ryan.” He's been telling his low-info followers that “Ryan opened borders and amnesty and bad budgets.” Wednesday he was on the stump whining that Ryan didn't send him a congratulates message when he “won” the last debate (the won that every single scientific poll shows he lost, most by a wide margin). Trump seems to be setting Ryan– and the Republican Establishment– up as the scapegoat for his loss. But he's also putting over a dozen House seats and several Senate seats in jeopardy that the GOP thought they had under control. Discounting Utah, Trump is also hurting himself, though– putting two traditionally deep red states, Georgia and Arizona, as well as red-leaning Iowa and North Carolina, up for grabs. Trump's erratic behavior– probably fueled by his Adderall addiction– demoralizing regular Republican voters and depressing turnout. At the same time the deplorables that the GOP was so excited to have join their party seem to be ready to deny their votes to Republicans who unendorsed Trump.
Many candidates the DCCC has refused to help– particularly progressives in suburban-oriented districts like Mary Ellen Balchunis (PA-07), Paul Clements (MI-06), DuWayne Gregory (NY-02), Doug Applegate (CA-49) Thomas Wakely (TX-21)– are now looking like they have even shots to beat Republican incumbents, respectively, Pat Meehan, Fred Upton, Peter King, Darrell Issa and Lamar Smith. Despite a flood of money from GOP hedge-fund criminals like Mercer and Singer for puppet candidate John Faso in NY-19, progressive and reform icon Zephyr Teachout looks increasingly like a winner. Even severely underfunded progressives like Mary Hoeft in WI-07 and Alina Valdes in FL-25, are looking like they have shots against Trump die-hards Sean Duffy and Mario Diaz Balart. Feel free to contribute to the campaigns of all the candidates I just mentioned by tapping on the thermometer on the right.
Top Bloomberg political reporter, Sahil Kapur, wrote of the “raging civil war between the pro-Trump nativist faction and anti-Trump pluralist wing has left some Republicans wondering if they will ever be able to reconcile, or if the party is on the cusp of a cataclysmic fracture.”
“I think there’s a Trump party and there’s a Republican Party. I have a lot of problems squaring the two,” said Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Romney’s 2012 campaign and an outspoken opponent of Trump.
Republicans fearful the party is in the midst of a demographic death spiral want to unequivocally disavow unsavory elements that are drawn to Trump’s anti-immigration and protectionist platform, including white nationalists such as David Duke.
“We have to be able to tell the truth about things like the alt-right and the white nationalists and some demagogic messaging around immigration,” said David Kochel, a strategist for Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign. “There is no place in the party for people like David Duke. They should not feel attracted to our message they should not feel welcome in our party.”
Kochel hoped the party would appeal to the white working-class voters Trump has mobilized with messages that are “aspirational, more future-oriented, and that aren’t based only in grievance and in tearing down the opposition.”
Charlie Sykes, a Wisconsin-based conservative radio host and Trump critic, was pessimistic. He speculated that Trump would start his own TV network after losing the election and influence the party beyond 2016.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of recriminations and the scars are going to take a long time to heal,” he said. “Some of my colleagues think this is black-swan event where Trump leaves and we go back to the way things are going to be.”
The more painful question for the party is whether it is even possible to forge a pluralist conservative majority out of its supporters.
“The conservative consensus that a lot of leaders thought we had: was it completely illusory?” Sykes wondered. “A lot of conservatives had deluded themselves that we were a more coherent cohesive movement than we really were. And that's not going to suddenly going to go away.”
With Clinton extending her already-significant advantage in the polls, Republicans increasingly fear the presidential election is lost. Trump is betting GOP voters will reward him for taking the fight to party leaders, such as McCain, who pulled support for Trump in the wake of leaked remarks from 2005 that captured Trump boasting that his fame allows him to grope and kiss women without their consent. A spokeswoman said Ryan would focus entirely on protecting the party’s House and Senate majorities in the final weeks of the race.
When Ryan informed members on a Monday conference call of his decision to no longer defend Trump, about a dozen of them openly protested while one defended Ryan, according to a House Republican member on the call. Another person on the call said the members who spoke out were from deep-red districts.
“Let's stop this circular firing squad,” Representative Bill Huizenga of Michigan said in an interview. “The reality is Donald Trump is our nominee, and Hillary Clinton is not an option.”
Representative Steve King of Iowa said Ryan's move was a “mistake” that makes it “more difficult” for Trump as well as downballot Republicans to win on Nov. 8.
“I believe we are joined at the hip with our nominee. We need to all work together to raise the tide so that it floats all boats,” King said in an interview. Asked if it will exacerbate fissures between the party and its base, he said, “I don't have any doubt.”
Those fissures are the same ones that led voters to nominate Trump against the vigorous objections of the establishment.
King fretted that the divide between the party and its base would widen if Trump loses, and predicted that a House Republican majority would fail to stand up to a President Clinton on issues like opposing immigration and defunding Planned Parenthood, further dispiriting voters.
Indeed, congressional losses for Republicans would likely make the party more ideologically intense, not less so. Those likeliest to lose their races represent swing House districts or liberal-leaning states in the Senate such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, members in the reddest district and states, who typically worry more about primary challenges from the right, are considered safe.
Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and a top Trump surrogate, said anti-Trump Republicans will be remembered negatively no matter what happens on Election Day.
“They're going to be remembered in one of two ways: Trump wins and they’re now seen as Republicans who abandoned the party, who didn’t see the change that was going on in America,” Giuliani said. “If Trump were to lose, they get a lot of credit for what Hillary Clinton will do so America– make us a more socialist country.”
Stevens had a more fatalistic outlook for the GOP after it learned the wrong lesson from the 2012 election, when President Barack Obama won black, Hispanic, and millennial voters by huge margins. He now worries that pro-Trump forces could blame anti-Trump ones for the coming defeat, meaning hardcore conservatives will say it’s time to nominate one of their own, like Senator Ted Cruz, while others will want a Trump-resisting figure like Senator Ben Sasse or Senator Jeff Flake to take the reins.
“I have no faith that the party is a learning organism,” he said. “After Romney lost we went through the autopsy. It was pretty obvious. And we've done a 180 opposite of what was recommended– with pretty predictable disastrous results.”
Late last night Politico reported about a Paul Ryan call with big GOP donors in which he warned them that Trump is dragging House Republicans down the toilet with him. “Ryan noted,” they wrote, “that Republicans lost more than 20 seats in 2008, when John McCain lost to Barack Obama by seven percentage points. By comparison, Ryan pointed out grimly, Trump is trailing by around 10 percent nationally.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis