Two Coming Tests of the Depth of Anti-Trump Sentiment

Although liberal commentators are painting a bit of a different picture this morning, I would suggest that from the national standpoint, the outcomes of the two most-followed primary contests decided yesterday went about as well for Republicans as they could have hoped.

First, Arizona:  although Democrats will be running an electable centrist Democrat, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, for Sen. Jeff Flake’s Senate seat, Rep. Martha McSally’s defeat of two avid Trumpians (Kelli Ward and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio) gives the Republicans a chance to avoid what would have been almost a certain defeat in November.  Arizona still leans Republican.  Ms. McSally seemingly provides centrists and those Republican right-moderates more comfortable with John McCain and Jeff Flake than they are with President Trump – who would either have stayed home or felt compelled to vote for Ms. Sinema over either Ms. Ward or Mr. Arpaio — a reason to stay in the Republican camp.

Next Florida:  its Governorship race is, in and of itself, less important on the national scale, but Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is also up for re-election and might need as much help as he can get from the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate.  Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s upset of the more-centrist Gwen Graham wouldn’t, at this remove, seem to be what Democrats nationally would have preferred.  Mayor Gillum, while impressive (I saw him interviewed this morning) and clearly pursuing a strategy of focusing on Florida state issues rather than on President Trump, is both African-American and the farthest left of the Democratic candidates; some pundits have suggested that he won the nomination due in part to backing from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “organization.”  Rep. Rick DeSantis, who won the Republican nomination, has wrapped himself in the President’s mantle.  It would again seem to me that in a state with certain deep conservative pockets and a significant senior demographic, centrists that might have leaned toward the moderate Ms. Graham due to their unease with Mr. Trump will now be driven back toward Mr. DeSantis due to their fear of what Mr. Gillum’s proposed policies might do to their pocketbooks.  (What can only be fairly considered race bating has already started; this morning, Mr. Santis reportedly told Fox News that Floridians shouldn’t “monkey this up” by choosing Mr. Gillum’s agenda.)  Florida’s poor and minority populations seem likely to heavily favor Mr. Gillum, but it remains to see how many turn out (and how many of those that do are able to vote; it could be a GEICO commercial:  “If you’re a Republican, you disenfranchise as many poor and non-white voters as you can … it’s what you do.”)

Two observations:

First, I would suggest that Sen. Sanders’ organization’s push for the farthest-left candidate in certain races (Mr. Gillum; Randy Bryce, the Democrat running for Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first congressional district — despite Mr. Bryce’s multiple past arrests including one for drunken driving and allegations that he had failed to make child support payments in a timely fashion — over a middle-aged female teacher with a cleaner resume) indicates either that he’s oblivious to the fact that the average voter is more conservative than he is, or that he’s more interested in making a stand on principle than he is in winning – a time-honored Democratic Party recipe for … defeat.  For someone that has expressed such antipathy for Mr. Trump and his policies, Mr. Sanders is arguably backing candidates that could cause centrists and right-moderates to turn to candidates that will, in the end, support the President and his agenda.

All that said:  I would submit that it can be fairly inferred that the prevailing sentiment against Mr. Trump is very deep in Arizona if Ms. Sinema wins, and/or in Florida if Mr. Gillum wins …

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