Republicans in Washington are terrified of the peril Donald Trump poses to their grip on the Senate and, increasingly, the House, where a wave election could cripple their historic majority. Yet it’s hardly clear that nominating Ted Cruz would save them from the Trump debacle they fear.
Here are the options facing down-ballot Republicans:
A. Run with front-runner Trump, whose unfavorable rating hit 70 percent in a recent national poll.
B. Run with Texas Sen. Cruz, who wants to return to the gold standard, patrol Muslim neighborhoods, and ban abortion in rape and incest cases.
C. Run away.
“Part of the problem for Republicans is that many of the swing seats in the Senate are in presidential battleground states,” foreshadowing long coattails from the top of the ticket, said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. Polarization has sent split-ticket voting to a 50-year low, he said, “so it’s going to be very hard if you are Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire to retain your seat if Hillary Clinton runs five points better than whoever the Republicans put up.”
Republican strategist O’Connell said Trump flouts so many GOP orthodoxies that on issues such as trade he often sounds closer to Democratic populist Bernie Sanders, giving him potentially more appeal than Cruz to swing voters.