STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump-backed candidates are crushing it in GOP primaries

One of the big questions over the last few months has been why Republican officials are so fearful to speak out again...

Posted: Jul 25, 2018 2:34 PM
Updated: Jul 25, 2018 2:34 PM

One of the big questions over the last few months has been why Republican officials are so fearful to speak out against the President. Much of that certainly has to do with ideological agreement with Trump. Some of it, no doubt, is Republicans know that speaking out too much against the President is an electoral death wish.

When you agree with Trump, on the other hand, it can pay dividends in a big way.

On Tuesday night, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp became just the latest Republican to benefit from President Donald Trump's endorsement. Kemp trailed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle by double digits in the first round of the state's gubernatorial primary. Polling indicated that Kemp was climbing before Trump backed him, but Trump's endorsement seemed to accelerate his surge. In the end, Kemp was able to win the runoff by 39 percentage points.

The Kemp win capped off what has been a strong two months for the President when he waded into competitive Republican primaries.

It all started before the California primary on June 5. Republicans desperately wanted a member of their party to finish as the first- or second-place candidate given the state's top-two primary system. Polls indicated though that Republican voters really weren't sure who to vote for because so many Republicans were running. In came the President with an endorsement on May 18 for John Cox. A few weeks later, Cox easily placed second and got on the ballot for November.

The next big triumph for the President came on June 12 in South Carolina. Rep. Mark Sanford was beaten in his primary by Katie Arrington. Trump made a day-of election endorsement for Arrington that probably didn't move too many votes given how late it occurred. Still, Sanford was dogged on the campaign trail by his general hostile attitude towards the President.

Where Trump's endorsement clearly helped was in the South Carolina's governor's race. Trump backed Gov. Henry McMaster in his primary. McMaster finished first in round one, and then Trump's continual backing - including an election eve rally - allowed him to escape with a narrow victory over businessman John Warren in the runoff a few weeks later. Warren, as I previously noted, fit the Trump mold better than McMaster did. Voters though decided to go with the long-time politician Trump endorsed rather than the Trump-like candidate.

The same held true in New York's 11th District when Rep. Dan Donovan beat Michael Grimm on June 26. Grimm, who acted and spoke a lot like Trump, led in a primary poll taken a little less than a month before the primary. As that poll was in the field, Trump tweeted his support for Donovan, even though Donovan voted against his tax cut plan. Donovan won the primary by about 25 percentage points.

Perhaps most interesting is what occurred in Alabama's 2nd District. Rep. Martha Roby had withdrawn her endorsement of Trump in 2016 after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tapes. Trump though decided to back Roby in 2018 nonetheless. That left Democrat-turned-Republican Bobby Bright with little room to call out Roby for her past statements against Trump. She would win the primary runoff on July 17 by 36 points.

The success of these half-dozen Republican candidates in competitive races shouldn't be too surprising. The President has an approval rating north of 80% with Republicans and north of 90% with conservative Republicans (i.e. the base). He is the leader of the party, so what he says should be pretty important.

What is compelling though is the different types of candidates who seem to be getting a helping hand from Trump. There are those who generally match his profile (like Cox), those who beat candidates who were more like Trump (like Donovan) and those who were once clearly against him (like Roby).

It's not all good news for the president, though. Remember these are Republican primaries. Republican candidates still need to win general elections. The last two Republicans who went down in ruby red territory (Roy Moore and Rick Saccone) both had the emphatic backing of the President.

With Trump's approval rating in the low 40s among the general electorate, he's more likely a detriment to Republicans than a help in the upcoming fall elections.

Huntsville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Florence
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 73°
Fayetteville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Decatur
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Scottsboro
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 52039

Reported Deaths: 652
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby11936201
Davidson11205121
Rutherford304035
Hamilton280435
Sumner163652
Trousdale14985
Williamson134015
Knox12098
Out of TN11987
Wilson96317
Putnam9067
Robertson83911
Sevier8303
Bradley7454
Lake6940
Tipton6495
Unassigned6351
Bledsoe6211
Bedford5705
Montgomery5677
Macon4874
Maury3573
Hardeman3524
Hamblen3434
Fayette3232
Madison3052
Loudon2881
Rhea2850
Dyer2543
McMinn23918
Cheatham2321
Blount2293
Dickson2120
Cumberland1834
Washington1740
Lawrence1646
Lauderdale1513
Anderson1442
Monroe1416
Jefferson1372
Gibson1291
Smith1221
Sullivan1212
Coffee1200
Greene1142
Obion1132
Hardin1097
Cocke940
Haywood932
Marshall921
Franklin883
Wayne880
Hickman800
Warren780
McNairy760
Marion744
White733
DeKalb680
Carter651
Lincoln650
Weakley641
Overton631
Giles621
Hawkins622
Roane620
Grundy611
Unicoi550
Campbell511
Carroll481
Claiborne480
Henderson480
Polk460
Henry450
Johnson440
Grainger410
Sequatchie410
Crockett403
Cannon370
Chester350
Perry340
Meigs320
Humphreys292
Jackson290
Morgan271
Fentress230
Stewart230
Decatur220
Union190
Clay180
Scott170
Houston150
Benton131
Moore130
Van Buren70
Hancock60
Lewis60
Pickett60

 

 

Community Events