Trump’s Rising Approval Might Benefit Vulnerable Suburban Republicans

A new Reuters/Ipsos survey finds the President’s approval rating sitting at 41 percent.  On the one hand, that is about Trump’s average approval but when combined with other surveys showing the President’s approval rising it seems to indicate as November looms closer, closet Republicans are coming home and the booming economy is benefiting the governing party.

But, it is not just Republicans who might be coming home.  The same Ipsos survey found support for Congressional Republicans is increasing while support for Democratic candidates has dipped among the ever crucial Millennial voting block.  Partly, this is due to white Millennials now splitting their preference among the parties.

Trump’s approval, now at a record high in the RCP average, does not seem to have phased close red-state Senate races with vulnerable Democratic Senators running.  Or at least not yet.  But, for Democrats running in suburban, well-off and young, educated seats in particular, their is a danger Trump’s rising approval and support for Congressional Republicans among Millennials could lead to far fewer of these seats flipping.

Democrats should do well in affluent, well educated and diverse suburbs.  But, for the party to truly exploit this kind of political environment they should be able to take heavily white and educated suburbs in Georgia, Minnesota and Texas.  If Congressional Republicans make serious inroads with these voters and sustain it they might lose out on gaining these seats and wave could simply be a wash.

Considering how far the suburbs have swung to Democrats this cycle these areas are key for a Democratic wave.  To highlight just how far these areas have swung consider Trump won the Allegheny portion of PA 18 49-46 in 2016.  In the special election held last month in the district Democrat Connor Lamb won the same portion of the district 63-36.

On the one hand this makes many, many Republicans vulnerable in long-time GOP seats.  But, on the other hand, it means Democratic chances are contingent on these suburbs swinging far, far to the left.  Even marginal suburban districts which Clinton won or came close to winning in November could start to become reaches for the party if younger voters, who may or may not like Trump, have a better opinion of their GOP Representative in Congress.

Talk to any Democrat and the swagger over Trump’s approval and the prevailing political environment could not be clearer.  But, this has always assumed the Democratic base of younger voters is a lock for the party.  If this survey is any indication that does not appear to be the case anymore.

Further, the trickle of news about the Mueller investigation has not been kind to Democrats.  A federal judge recently accused the Mueller team of lying in their attempts to target Trump by refusing to disclose the scope of their investigation.  This only rallies the base of the party to the President and makes marginal voters tune out the investigation.

But, while recent news and surveys have been kind to the GOP and giving some suburban Republicans the same cannot be said for red-state Republicans.  So far, polls have not shown a steady uptick in their support as Trump’s numbers rebound.

Take Tennessee and Missouri.  Both are states Trump easily carried in 2016.  In Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn is running to replace Bob Corker.  She is facing former Governor Phil Bredeson and while early the polls show he has the edge in a very, very red state.

In Missouri, Claire McCaskill is arguably the most endangered red-state Democrat around.  She has a fairly liberal voting record and is facing a GOP wonderkid.  But, the state GOP is imploding under the weight of a gubernatorial scandal and despite money and an R next to his name, Josh Hawley, is only tied with McCaskill.

Maybe things will change but right now the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s rising approval might not be red-state Republicans running against Democratic incumbents bur rather vulnerable, suburban Republicans.

 

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