Trump stands at center of very violent midterm election cycle

Trump stands at center of very violent midterm election cycle
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Our cold civil war grows hotter by the day. Between now and the election next week, there seems to be no apparent letup of violence in sight. We witnessed the Squirrel Hill massacre, one day after the arrest of accused mail bomber Cesar Sayec, and after two African Americans were shot and killed in Kentucky. The latest tragedy is a deadly school shooting in North Carolina, where the gunman and the deceased were students.

At the same time, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization MORE appears intent on continuing to shred the social fabric that ties our nation together. Welcome again to the new era where the president as unifier in chief is looking passe. Faced with the dual prospect of Republicans losing the House and expanding their control of the Senate, the president would not skip a beat, falsely claiming that the stock market barely took time off after 9/11, so why should he?


On Saturday night, hours after nearly a dozen Americans were slaughtered at worship in Pittsburgh, the president instead opted to appear at a campaign rally. After a perfunctory acknowledgement of what went wrong earlier in the day, it was business as usual. As to be expected, those who stood in the way of his message got verbally strafed. Surely the ghost of Avery Brundage, the former International Olympic Committee president who declared that the games “must go on” in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich massacre, must have been smiling. As for Pepe the frog, his spirit marches on. Wash, rinse, dry, and repeat.

Amidst a stock market that dances on the precipice of another correction and more signs that the economic growth is slowing down, the president was busy on Twitter once again lambasting the mainstream media, even as the nation remained focus on its bloodiest streak of violence ahead of an election. Almost on cue, after Trump tweeted this morning, another suspicious package addressed to CNN turned up in a post office.

We should not expect the temperature to drop anytime soon. As Trump himself complained, hard news has been drowning out politics as of late. For his team, that is not advantageous. The bomb thing? Fake news until it is not. Republican flip flops on health insurance? A mere distraction. Possible cuts to Social Security? That would make donors happy.

Still, the actual impact of our turmoil on Election Day remains to be seen. Estimates point to Democrats winning the House, and Newt Gingrich pegs their odds of capturing the House at two to one. But the head counters have yet to put 218 seats squarely in the column for Democrats.

In early voting in Florida, the Republicans held a lead at 43 percent over the Democrats at 40 percent after a weekend that saw a spike in ballots from Democrats. In Nevada, the advantage for the Democrats appears clearer. Among early voters in the Silver State, more than 42 percent were Democrats and nearly 39 percent Republicans. As for mailed in ballots, the Democrats held wide lead of 10 points over the Republicans.

It is unclear how much can be read into these numbers. Still, it is apparent that the electorate is engaged. Right now, turnout is projected to surpass the last midterms in 2014. Instead of ObamaCare being on the ballot, Trump is the focal point of what is now a national referendum.

Indeed, the Trump campaign is out with a $6 million ad buy for the closing days of this election cycle. As Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, framed things, “Sometimes success can bring complacency. We have to go remind them.” As for the heated rhetoric of the president and its impact on the more volatile segments of his base, Parscale gave a verbal shrug, saying there is “not much you can do about those kinds of people.” In other words, presidential restraint is not an option.

If the Republicans succeed in retaining the House, Trump will take the credit. If Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate House extends proxy voting to July On The Money: IRS to start monthly payments of child tax credit July 15 | One-fourth of Americans took financial hits in 2020: Fed MORE becomes Speaker, it will be the Republicans, not the president, who will be forced to shoulder the blame. Personal responsibility is not a Trumpian virtue. The buck stops elsewhere.

Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.