One of the most endangered Republicans in Congress, Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10), must have sat there, mouth agape, as Donald Trump repeatedly declared Tuesday how much he would “love to see a shutdown” over immigration issues. He was insisting that his so-called four-pillar wish list of immigration goodies be included in any budget deal, leaving Comstock—with a district full of government workers—little choice but to challenge Trump’s assertion.
“We don’t need a government shutdown on this,” she said, according to video of the exchange.
In particular, she didn’t need a GOP-inspired shutdown. Some pundits thought it was a good moment for Comstock, showing she could stand up to a pr*sident that proved deeply unpopular in her Virginia district during elections last year. But Comstock didn’t speak up because she was eager to take on Trump—few-to-none Republican lawmakers have dared engage in gratuitous Trump bashing. Instead, Comstock acted out of desperation to distance herself from the man who, one way or the other, will loom large over the midterm elections.
Trump is at least part of the reason that Cook Political Report this week revised their ratings in 21 districts to be more favorable to Democrats. Though Republicans have been taking solace in a bump in their national polling, Cook Political’s David Wasserman writes:
…most new district-by-district fundraising and polling numbers are downright terrible for Republicans, even in seats previously thought to be safe. […]
Republican leaders believe they can save their majority with a four-pronged approach: emphasize strong economic fundamentals, a muscular national security posture, opposition research against untested first-time Democratic candidates and the possible return of Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But historically, it’s been difficult to frame midterms as anything other than referenda on the president and party in charge.
In other words, even though Democrats’ generic ballot lead has tightened to about seven points, Trump’s approval rating has increased to nearly 41 percent, and people are feeling pretty positive about the economy (or at least they were before the stock market correction), Trump is still serving as a drag in congressional district polling.
In fact, two California Republicans are a perfect example of the liability Trump now poses to many House Republicans. Polling in the districts of GOP Reps. Steve Knight and Dana Rohrabacher shows that Trump’s sagging approval ratings are directly correlate the lawmakers’ reelection bids.