Even before the Washington Post reported the videotape revealing Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women, the Republican candidate was proving to be an anchor weighing down Republicans in California. Campaign pollsters say that Republicans running for assembly and senate seats that were doing well suffered a drop in numbers after a barrage of negative hit pieces tying them to Trump—whether the local candidate supported Trump or not.
Post debate, it appears many Republican voters will hang with Trump despite Trump’s braggadocio on the videotape. According to a Politico Poll taken after the tape was made public (but before the debate), Republican voters that supported Trump were sticking by him. The debate won’t change that. In fact, his debate performance might have lessened the bleeding his campaign was experiencing among some Republicans.
The attacks and counter punches were there last night. Hillary Clinton was either the devil (according to Trump) or acting like Abe Lincoln (according to Clinton.) But its unlikely few minds were changed by the debate performances.
In California there are fewer and fewer Republicans as the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s office reveals. While a number of Republicans stick with Trump, it is less certain that independent voters will come his way and that could hurt down-ticket Republicans even if, as Congressional candidate Scott Jones has done, candidates announce they will not vote for Trump.
Of course, the Trump tape is not the first time that sexual misconduct has been an issue in a presidential campaign.
Go back to the beginning of the Republic when disaffected Thomas Jefferson supporter turned political journalist, James T. Callender, put in print the long rumored story that Jefferson had several children with a slave named Sally.
Another episode was Grover Cleveland’s child out of wedlock and the tale concocted by his aides to put the blame on the child’s mother. And, of course, more recently, there was Bill Clinton’s history that Trump brought up during the debate and with his pre-debate press conference featuring some of Bill Clinton’s accusers.
It should be noted that all three candidates painted with the brush of scandal won the White House.
Tying down-ticket Republican candidates to Trump in deep blue California could well lead to supermajorities for the Democrats in both houses of the state legislature. Could Trump’s anchor bring the number of Democrats to a large enough supermajority to offset some moderate Democrats abandoning legislative leaders on certain issues?
Turnout is the key. If this latest episode with Trump solidifies Clinton’s standing through Election Day, her California supporters may see no need to vote, which would help down-ticket Republicans. Or could the revelation that Hillary Clinton is speaking out of both sides of her mouth on issues important to Bernie Sanders progressives reduce the Democratic vote in California? Both scenarios could counter the Trump anchor effect that has shown up in state polling.