WILKES BARRE, PA - AUGUST 02: President Donald J. Trump speaks to a large crowd on August 2, 2018 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre,...
Rick Loomis

Trump explicitly makes 2018 midterms a referendum on his presidency

Donald Trump’s latest campaign rally was in Missouri on Friday night, and part of the president’s pitch was unfamiliar: the president told his Springfield audience that this year’s midterm elections must be seen as a referendum on his presidency. From the transcript:

“You’ve got to get out. Can’t be complacent. It’s fragile. You’ve got to get out. You know, a poll came out, they said, ‘Everybody’s going out in 2020, because they want to vote for you, they want to vote for the president. But they’re not maybe coming out in 2018.’

“Get out in 2018, because you’re voting for me in 2018. You’re voting for me. You’re voting for me.”

Trump went on to explain why he prefers “Democrat Party” to “Democratic Party” – the grammatically correct version, the president explained, sounds “sweeter” – before telling supporters, “To me, it’s the Democrat Party, and they aren’t just extreme. They are, frankly, dangerous, and they are crazy. They’re crazy.”

There is no scenario in which Republican officials want this to be the president’s message six weeks from Election Day.

For one thing, Trump is plainly unpopular. If a vote for a Republican candidate is a vote for the president, the GOP is likely to have a very bad night on Nov. 6. (A new Fox News poll asked respondents, “Do you think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, or not?” The fact that 43% of Americans support impeachment isn’t a good sign.)

Indeed, I wonder how vulnerable Republican incumbents in competitive areas would respond if asked whether they agree with Trump’s “You’re voting for me” formulation.

For another, if the midterm cycle comes down to a debate over which national leader the American mainstream considers “crazy,” the president is setting his party up for failure.

Donald Trump

Trump explicitly makes 2018 midterms a referendum on his presidency