Opinion: Carolina Journal Opinions

Beltway consultants will cost GOP the House 

As we head into final weeks of the midterm elections, there’s a plethora of chatter on the cable news channels about the possibility of either a blue or a red wave. 

Much is at stake in November, including control of the House and the Senate, and the chances articles of impeachment could be approved by a Democratic U.S. House against President Trump in the next session of Congress.  

To be frank, Republicans have an uphill battle. Historically, the party controlling the White House loses congressional seats in midterms — in this case, the Republicans led by Trump. Political prognosticators put the odds on the Democrats winning back the majority in the House, but Republicans holding the U.S. Senate, albeit with fewer gains than projected months ago. 

The Republicans in D.C. are trying to make the election about results. And they have some good points to make — the economy is humming along, Gross Domestic Product for the past two quarters has grown by more than 3 percent, and unemployment is at record lows. The stock market has been on a bull run since Trump was elected, regulations were rolled back, taxes were cut, and jobs are being created. 

The president has nominated and the Republican Senate has confirmed one conservative jurist to the Supreme Court — Justice Neil Gorsuch. Judge Brett Kavanaugh may be confirmed by mid-October, reshaping the Supreme Court for a generation. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rapid confirmation of federal district and appeals court judges has ensured a conservative imprint on the courts for decades. All things being equal, Republicans should be in pretty good shape. 

But in fact, they are not. Consider this. 

Currently, Democrats have the upper hand when it comes to “voter intensity and the generic ballot.” Which simply stated means the Democrats’ base is much more motivated this fall. 

Clearly, Republican “messaging” is not cutting through. Sure, Republicans can blame the bias of the mainstream media. But at the heart of it, in my view, is the establishment Beltway consultants are ignoring Trump’s signature issue: illegal immigration. Yet, illegal immigration is on the minds of American electorate. 

According to a July Gallup survey, 35 percent of Republicans say illegal immigration is the No. 1 issue facing the country. And the percentage of Americans who say illegal immigration is the most important problem in the country grew to 22 percent in July from 14 percent in the previous poll. That’s the highest percentage an issue has received in the history of Gallup’s “most important problem” questions. 

So why do the Republican National Committee and the establishment consultants continue to ignore the issue? Pure and simple. The majority of their donors don’t want it to be part of the 2018 message. The Republican donors and the leadership in the party will give lip service to securing the border, but that’s it. 

And let’s be clear: The GOP establishment completely missed the backlash over illegal immigration in the 2016 presidential election. 

It appears the establishment will deliberately ignore the issue again in the midterms. 

The result of this strategy will be a depressed Republican base turnout, the loss of the GOP majority in the House, and a halt to the Trump agenda.

Marc Rotterman is host of “Front Row with Marc Rotterman,” a weekly public affairs program on UNC Public Television and the NC Channel. Contact him @FrontRowMarc.