Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
The chaos consuming the Republican presidential campaign seems like it can’t possibly get worse for the party. It can and it is.
The nomination fight, to be sure, is bad enough. Party leaders only two years ago envisioned a talent pageant stuffed with rising stars. They would have been hard pressed to conjure a darker nightmare than what now confronts them in a choice apparently narrowed to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
But even before that lose-lose proposition can be settled, its wages are spilling over onto Congressional Republicans. On Friday, David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, floated the possibility that the down-ballot drag from either a Trump or Cruz nomination could put the GOP’s House majority in jeopardy. That is a stunning notion, considering the party now enjoys its biggest cushion in the chamber since 1928. Democrats would need to net 30 seats to seize control, a task further complicated by redistricting that heavily favors Republicans. (In the last presidential election, House Democratic candidates drew 1.37 million more votes nationwide than their Republican rivals and nevertheless ended up with 33 fewer seats.) Yet Wasserman is already reclassifying ten races as more competitive for the minority based on the likely top of the Republican ticket. Other districts with concentrations of Latinos and upper-income moderates could soon join them. “We don’t hold local House elections anymore, with very few exceptions,” Wasserman says. “House candidates are more or less defined by their nominee these days.”
The same goes for Senate races, where the map already favors Democrats. To regain control of the upper chamber, the party needs to pick up four seats if it also holds the White House. And Senate Republicans are defending seven seats in states that President Obama won twice. But eyeing a potential presidential blowout, Senate Democratic strategists believe they are facing a singularly historic opportunity. So while the battle for control of the Senate will play out in familiar battlegrounds — think Florida, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the party is also racing against looming filing deadlines to lure credible Democratic contenders in ruby-red territory like Kansas and South Carolina. Already, quietly, in Georgia and Idaho, it has scored a pair of businessmen primed to run as political outsiders with private-sector cred (sound familiar?). Competitive races in those states shouldn’t be possible — but neither should a Republican presidential nominee with a real potential to limbo under 40 percent of the popular vote. “We’re preparing for an outcome that’s completely different from anything we’ve seen,” one top Democratic strategist says. With the primaries ongoing and eight months until Election Day, nothing is guaranteed. But if Republicans see their White House prospects continue to crater, they can’t take for granted their Congressional backstop.
• Sanders is skipping AIPAC
Bernie Sanders will be the only candidate still running for president to skip the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference next week, citing a scheduling conflict. IT may be more than that, though, as progressives had been petitioning for Sanders to skip the event on political grounds.. Fortune
• Joe Arpaio to police Trump rally
It is no secret that Donald Trump’s campaign events have been getting a little testy in recent weeks. Now, one of his biggest supporters, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, will be providing security for a rally in the Grand Canyon State. Given Arpaio’s history of aggressive policing, this could get ugly. Politico
• The Supreme Court fight moves out of Washington
There is no question that the fight to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is an uphill one for Democrats. With the Senate in recess, though, Republican senators now have to go back to their home states and sell their constituents on the virtue of waiting nearly a year to fill a vacancy on the high court. New York Times
Around the Water Cooler
• Ted Cruz heads for the border
With Arizona voting soon, Ted Cruz is trying to win the state by focusing on one of the most important issues to its citizens, immigration. The Texas Senator, who has a history of a hardline stance but has largely lost the issue to Trump, toured the Mexico border this week.. Washington Post
• Obama’s bracket is already busted
President Obama makes it no secret that he is a big hoops fan. This year, like every year, he filled out his March Madness bracket for ESPN. He picked Michigan State to go to the Final Four; unfortunately for him, the Spartans were beaten in a shocking upset on Friday. C’est la vie. ESPN
• Here is why Bernie won’t quit
On the Democratic side, this election is over. Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee. But that doesn’t mean he’s quitting. Sanders likely wants to keep the energy his campaign has gathered and use it to propel progressive activism past November. He can only do that by staying visible for as long as he can. The Atlantic