That means the presidential campaign tsunami is nearly upon us. The question is, will the race for the White House overwhelm the down ballot races?
In that vein, Marc Levy of the Associated Press examined whether the nomination of Donald Trump would hurt Pat Toomey’s attempt to win a second term in the Senate.
“There are some people running for president, like Mr. Trump, who I think would continue a demographic slide that would make it hard for us to win and us to hold the Senate,” Lindsey Graham stated earlier this month at the PA GOP’s winter meeting.
“You’re held captive to the [party’s presidential nominee] if you’re running down-ballot,” Muhlenberg College political science professor Christopher Borick told Levy. “I’m sure the Toomey campaign thinks about that night and day.”
The belief is that if the party chooses an insurgent candidate (like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz) over an establishment candidate (like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush) they’ll lose the presidential race in a landslide that will have ramifications all the way down the ballot.
Political observers always point to the Republicans’ 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater and the Democrats’ 1972 nomination of George McGovern as examples where the party’s base took over only to get destroyed in the general election. While it true that both Goldwater and McGovern lost by historic proportions, there is little evidence that those defeats decimated the party’s congressional ranks.
In 1964, the Republicans did lose 37 seats in the House but lost only two in the Senate and they didn’t have the majority anyway. Furthermore, in 1972 the Democrats lost thirteen House seats but didn’t lose their majority. In fact, they added to their advantage in the Senate by winning a net of two seats.
That was decades ago, though, and it remains to be seen if in this increasingly polarized era voters will decide based on candidates or parties. The Republicans seem to be betting on the former.
“The Democrats cannot win the United States Senate without beating Pat Toomey,” PA GOP Chair Rob Gleason asserted.
As for the man himself, he is keeping his eyes focused squarely ahead.
“I try to make it a point not to worry about things I can’t control,” Sen. Toomey concluded.