Over a year and a half into his first term, it’s clear President Trump’s legacy will leave an impact unlike any president before him. This trend is becoming apparent in the 2018 midterm elections. Democratic politicians have been using their disdain for Trump to convince anyone not in support of him to vote for them. But the effect of Trump’s presidency on Republican candidates may not be as positive.
The Republican party is at a very pivotal point in history. The Washington Post reports that although a number of Republican politicians do not support Trump’s policies as president, many are too afraid to speak against him. Republicans must either support the President’s decisions, quietly disagree or even choose to leave the party because of Trump’s divisive and harmful rhetoric.
Trump’s effect may soon reach Wisconsin elections, as President Trump called Republican Senate nominee Leah Vukmir to congratulate her on her win in the GOP primary. He also discussed potentially visiting Wisconsin to support her campaign. In addition, President Trump tweeted about Vukmir’s win in the primary election, giving his “complete and total endorsement” of Vukmir and claiming her opponent, Senator Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, “has done very little” as a senator. Vukmir has accepted the president’s offer, but no locations or dates have been decided.
Congratulations to Leah Vukmir of Wisconsin on your great win last night. You beat a very tough and good competitor and will make a fantastic Senator after winning in November against someone who has done very little. You have my complete and total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2018
There are essentially two possible outcomes from the president’s endorsement. Either Vukmir strengthens her following by gaining the support of the nation’s Republican leader and wins the votes of Trump supporters in areas like northern Wisconsin, or she alienates centrist voters and conservatives who stand against Trump, even if they do it quietly.
Trump’s popularity in Wisconsin is mediocre at best. His narrow win in Wisconsin contributed a great deal to him receiving more votes than Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College. In most circumstances, the president’s endorsement of a politician of the same party does wonders for their campaign, and they usually end up winning the election over a candidate who does not have the president’s support. With that said, however, Trump is not like most presidents.
His Wisconsin approval rate has shifted between the high 30s to low 40s — not terribly high, but not too low either. However, his disapproval rate consistently rests at more than 50 percent. President Trump is a polarizing figure, causing a rift between political parties, making it difficult for voters to choose a party without feeling like they must stand on a certain side of every issue. Since Trump is such a controversial president, it’s more likely his endorsement will discourage voters from supporting Vukmir, turning away those who are frustrated with Trump’s presidency.
As Wisconsin has the chance to be enveloped by a blue wave come November, it’s important the Republican party remain unified if they want to remain in power. Unseating an incumbent is never an easy task, but if Leah Vukmir is serious about unseating Tammy Baldwin, associating with someone as divisive as the president is not the way to go.
Courtney Degen ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.