Trump-backed candidates are crushing it in GOP primaries

One of the big questions over the last few months has been why Republican officials are so fearful to speak out again...

Posted: Jul 25, 2018 2:34 PM
Updated: Jul 25, 2018 2:34 PM

One of the big questions over the last few months has been why Republican officials are so fearful to speak out against the President. Much of that certainly has to do with ideological agreement with Trump. Some of it, no doubt, is Republicans know that speaking out too much against the President is an electoral death wish.

When you agree with Trump, on the other hand, it can pay dividends in a big way.

On Tuesday night, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp became just the latest Republican to benefit from President Donald Trump's endorsement. Kemp trailed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle by double digits in the first round of the state's gubernatorial primary. Polling indicated that Kemp was climbing before Trump backed him, but Trump's endorsement seemed to accelerate his surge. In the end, Kemp was able to win the runoff by 39 percentage points.

The Kemp win capped off what has been a strong two months for the President when he waded into competitive Republican primaries.

It all started before the California primary on June 5. Republicans desperately wanted a member of their party to finish as the first- or second-place candidate given the state's top-two primary system. Polls indicated though that Republican voters really weren't sure who to vote for because so many Republicans were running. In came the President with an endorsement on May 18 for John Cox. A few weeks later, Cox easily placed second and got on the ballot for November.

The next big triumph for the President came on June 12 in South Carolina. Rep. Mark Sanford was beaten in his primary by Katie Arrington. Trump made a day-of election endorsement for Arrington that probably didn't move too many votes given how late it occurred. Still, Sanford was dogged on the campaign trail by his general hostile attitude towards the President.

Where Trump's endorsement clearly helped was in the South Carolina's governor's race. Trump backed Gov. Henry McMaster in his primary. McMaster finished first in round one, and then Trump's continual backing - including an election eve rally - allowed him to escape with a narrow victory over businessman John Warren in the runoff a few weeks later. Warren, as I previously noted, fit the Trump mold better than McMaster did. Voters though decided to go with the long-time politician Trump endorsed rather than the Trump-like candidate.

The same held true in New York's 11th District when Rep. Dan Donovan beat Michael Grimm on June 26. Grimm, who acted and spoke a lot like Trump, led in a primary poll taken a little less than a month before the primary. As that poll was in the field, Trump tweeted his support for Donovan, even though Donovan voted against his tax cut plan. Donovan won the primary by about 25 percentage points.

Perhaps most interesting is what occurred in Alabama's 2nd District. Rep. Martha Roby had withdrawn her endorsement of Trump in 2016 after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tapes. Trump though decided to back Roby in 2018 nonetheless. That left Democrat-turned-Republican Bobby Bright with little room to call out Roby for her past statements against Trump. She would win the primary runoff on July 17 by 36 points.

The success of these half-dozen Republican candidates in competitive races shouldn't be too surprising. The President has an approval rating north of 80% with Republicans and north of 90% with conservative Republicans (i.e. the base). He is the leader of the party, so what he says should be pretty important.

What is compelling though is the different types of candidates who seem to be getting a helping hand from Trump. There are those who generally match his profile (like Cox), those who beat candidates who were more like Trump (like Donovan) and those who were once clearly against him (like Roby).

It's not all good news for the president, though. Remember these are Republican primaries. Republican candidates still need to win general elections. The last two Republicans who went down in ruby red territory (Roy Moore and Rick Saccone) both had the emphatic backing of the President.

With Trump's approval rating in the low 40s among the general electorate, he's more likely a detriment to Republicans than a help in the upcoming fall elections.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 31°
Columbus
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 35°
Oxford
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 30°
Starkville
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather