Vulnerable California Republicans in Congress felt the Earth shift under them Monday as House Speaker Paul Ryan publicly cut his members loose from any obligation of loyalty to the top of the GOP ticket.
With the Republican Party reeling from the crisis less than a month before election day, three California Republicans considered most at risk of losing their seats denounced Trump after the emergence of the tapes on Friday. Others in safer seats stayed silent.
GOP analyst Ford O’Connell said Republican incumbents as a whole face a political quandary. Disloyalty to the nominee threatens to anger Trump’s hard-core loyalists at the party’s base who loathe its “establishment” leaders. Yet support for Trump could alienate the large swathes of general election voters, especially women and minorities, who view Trump with revulsion.
“At least until election day, this is still Donald Trump’s party,” O’Connell said. “Turning against the nominee could cause problems with base voters.”
O’Connell predicted Republicans would narrowly maintain House control, if only because Democrats would have to win nearly every vulnerable seat to reach 30.
“It’s still a long haul for Democrats, but then again, we don't know what else could drop,” O’Connell said.