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The Big Dog Won’t Hunt?

Some Democrats don’t want to campaign with Bill Clinton; Republicans enjoy a polling bounce.


By

James Freeman

This column has argued that the Republican tax cut will become increasingly popular among voters and new surveys suggest that’s exactly what’s happening. Meanwhile, Democrats trying to make the case that the predations of their Hollywood sponsors amount to a reason to vote against Republicans seem to be distancing themselves from another of their predatory patrons.

Politico reports:

Democrats are looking to embrace the #MeToo moment and rally women to push back on President Donald Trump in the midterms—and they don’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near it. In a year when the party is deploying all their other big guns and trying to appeal to precisely the kind of voters Clinton has consistently won over, an array of Democrats told POLITICO they’re keeping him on the bench. They don’t want to be seen anywhere near a man with a history of harassment allegations, as guilty as their party loyalty to him makes them feel about it.

Readers may be wondering why anyone would feel guilty about shunning Bill Clinton. But as Politico elaborates, feelings don’t really have all that much to do with 2018 campaign decision-making:

Several Democratic campaigns have already polled Clinton’s popularity in their races, weighing whether to take the risk of inviting him out. Others say they’d love to see him chip in, so long as he sticks to New York, at closed-door fundraisers for them where no photographs of them together are taken.

This suggests that Mr. Clinton could be in for some awkward moments this fall, assuming he has more capacity for embarrassment than he’s shown to date. Perhaps some Democrats have decided that appearing with Louis Farrakhan is one thing, but standing next to Mr. Clinton is quite another. Politico reports on mixed feelings about the former President:

“People are crass about it and will look to see where his numbers are,” admitted one Democratic member of Congress who is in a tough race and is anxious about going public embracing or trashing Clinton. “He’s still Bill Clinton, and he’s still a draw to certain segments of the party.” “Depending on the audience, there will definitely be people … [who] will be uncomfortable,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). But there will also “definitely be people who want to see him.”

Separately, Politico reports on its new survey which is bound to have GOP candidates feeling more comfortable:

Republicans have erased the Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that, for the first time since April, also shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating equaling the percentage of voters who disapprove of his job performance. Fully 39 percent of registered voters say they would support the GOP candidate for Congress in their district, while 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate. Nearly a quarter of voters, 23 percent, are undecided... The GOP’s 1-point advantage comes after three months of tracking in which Democrats maintained a lead ranging between 2 and 10 points on the generic ballot. That has been generally smaller than the party’s lead in other public surveys: The most recent RealClearPolitics average shows Democrats ahead by 7 points on the generic ballot, though that’s down from a high of 13 points late last year.

CNBC adds:

America is warming up to the Republican tax cuts — and Democrats are starting to get worried... The momentum is increasingly leaving Democrats on the defensive on the kitchen-table economics they believe will be critical to victory in November’s midterm elections. In an open memo this week, Democratic super PAC Priorities USA said the party’s message has gotten drowned out in the debate over the tax plan... The super PAC pointed to internal poll numbers showing the percentage of voters who view President Donald Trump’s tax policies favorably jumped from 32 percent late last year to 46 percent in February. Support for his economic policies also rose significantly, from 38 to 46 percent.

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