So, for a party that suspects the presidency is lost there is still a lot to play for. The party can throw resources at key house seats and senate races to try to retain control of Congress and continue the utter gridlock that strangled Barack Obama’s second term.
This is already happening unofficially. Donor money that would usually have gone to the presidential race is going elsewhere. A super PAC called the Congressional Leadership Fund announced this week that they are spending ten million on key House races. The Koch brother’s network have $750 million to spend and plan for a sizeable portion to go to senate races but none to Donald Trump.
There will be more where that came from. And either quietly or officially the party will also likely switch goals with the message ‘vote GOP for senate to stop Hillary going too far left’.
It’s an achievable goal. Hillary Clinton is strongly projected to win the presidential election, but the Senate is a tough hill to climb against incumbents, and the House will stay firmly Republican unless there’s a landslide because House elections are rigged, but just not in the way that Trump means (but more on that another time).
So there’s a lot to play for in the senate and house races for the republicans and a little money goes a long way in a local race where advertising is cheap and just a slight swing or a slightly elevated turnout can make a huge impact.
One: It’s still very early. It didn’t happen to Bob Dole until just days before the vote. The impact on morale, public sentiment and party unity are so uncertain and unsettling that there will be nerves about showing the hand too overtly or too soon.
Two: Trump is relying heavily on the party for aspects of his campaign to function at all. He has 80 staff and almost no ground operation while Hillary Clinton has a staff of more than 700 and dozens of local offices in key states. His lack of a professional infrastructure is exemplified by Jefferson County, Colorado. It’s a critical county in what should be a swing state and the Trump campaign there is being co-chaired by a 12-year-old. Bob Dole had a substantial infrastructure of his own and could cope. Donald Trump’s campaign could go down in a flaming heap without help from head office. This will give pause.
Three: It’s not over yet. Some of Trump’s disastrous national polling is down to how much support he has lost in strong Republican states that he will win regardless. It’s been such a strange year that anything could happen and a good week or two could make the Republican party wonder whether it’s worth keeping some skin in the game.
Four: Republican Chairman Reince Priebus will be genuinely unnerved about how Stephen K. Bannon might react if they leave Trump swinging in the wind. Mr Bannon already hates the party establishment. It’s quite possible that rather than quietly taking one for the team he would cry for blood and set Trump on a path of party destruction turning a bad situation worse. Donald Trump’s supporters are already angry and rife with paranoid, conspiracy theories. Their possible response is neither predictable nor pretty.
A Trump loss could get quite ugly, with a faction of the Republic Party and its supporters actively undermining key players for years to come.
– Phil Smith, RNZ