Trump’s grand strategy for the midterms is to double down on the kind of us-versus-them alarmism that helped him narrowly win in 2016. The problem is that the blatant ugliness of the appeal, combined with Trump’s campaigning around the violence of the past ten days, is sheer poison in swing districts held by Republicans, especially in upscale suburban seats.
At least nine of those Republican seats look like they are lost causes for the GOP, including seats in suburban Minneapolis, suburban Denver, Kevin Yoder’s seat outside Kansas City, and Barbara Comstock’s in D.C.’s Virginia suburbs. Twelve other races in upscale Republican-held districts are rated toss-ups or leaning Democratic.
But appalled Republican moderates in swing seats in the suburbs are not the only story. Back in hard-core Trump country, Democrats are making good headway running as pocketbook populists.
In the race for Montana’s at-large House seat, Trump’s favorite thug representative, Greg Gianforte, is now in a dead heat with progressive Democrat Kathleen Williams. And in West Virginia’s Third District, populist Richard Ojeda, a decorated veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is within a few points of Republican Carol Miller, in a seat that Trump won with 73 percent of the vote.
Not to jinx it, but thanks to Trump’s sheer ugliness and fake populism, which have pushed his popularity ratings back down to the 30s, Democrats could pull off a hat trick of winning big in both suburban swing districts and in hardcore Trump seats.