Trump's unpopularity is putting these historically Republican House seats in danger


Recent polling suggests Trump's woes are trickling down to House races that could help Democrats expand their majority.

Republicans entered the 2020 cycle as longshots to win control of the House back after the party was unceremoniously swept out of power in the midterm elections.

But the GOP hoped to at least chip away at the Democrats' majority in November, when Democrats will be defending 31 seats Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Yet a trio of recent House polls shows Trump's unpopularity is hampering that effort, dragging down Republicans in districts they've held for years — and raising the possibility that the party will slip further into the minority once the election is through.

"Overall Trump is an albatross around the neck of these Republican candidates," Stu Rothenberg, a political analyst who has been predicting congressional races for decades, said in an interview.

As the country becomes more and more politically polarized, the practice of "ticket-splitting" — where people vote for candidates from different parties on the same ballot — has drastically declined. That means success of the Republican Party is much more dependent on the success of Trump himself. And with Trump down to Biden across the country, it makes it harder for Republican candidates to cut into the lead of their opponents, let alone pull out ahead.

So far, polling in Senate races has shown that Trump's unpopularity is putting the Republican Party's control of the upper chamber at risk.

And now, internal polling from three historically Republican-held House seats is showing the same trend.

In Indiana's 5th District, a suburban Indianapolis seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Susan Brooks, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a poll showing the Democratic nominee ahead.

According to the DCCC's survey, Democratic nominee Christina Hale leads Republican nominee Victoria Spartz, 51%-45%. That same poll also found Biden leading Trump, 53% to 43%.

Four years earlier, Trump carried this same district by 12 points.

Another DCCC poll from Texas' 6th District, located in the suburbs of Dallas-Forth Worth, showed the Democratic nominee trailing incumbent GOP Rep. Ron Wright by 4 points, 41% to 45%. That same poll also found Trump and Biden tied in the district, even though Trump carried it four years earlier by 12 points.

And in Pennsylvania's 1st District, another suburban seat that's evaded Democrats for years, the Democratic nominee trails GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick by just 1 point, according to a poll from House Majority PAC — a Democratic super PAC aimed at electing Democrats to Congress.

That survey found Biden leading Trump, 52% to 48%.

Of course, internal polling should be taken with a grain of salt, as parties often have an agenda when releasing numbers.

However, an analysis by CNN's Harry Enten found a correlation between parties that release more internal polls and the odds of that party doing well in an election. And so far, Democrats have released far more internal polls than Republicans.

"When one party puts out a lot more internal polls than normal, it is good for their side," Enten wrote. "Parties tend to release good polling when they have it."

Ultimately, Enten wrote that the bevy of internal polls showing Democrats either winning or competitive in seats Trump carried four years earlier is a bad sign for the GOP.

"For Republicans, something needs to change or they're going to get blown out come November," Enten wrote.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.