With Political Tensions High, How Should Party Candidates Proceed?

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, (left) and his challenger Beto O'Rourke. (David J. Phillip, file/AP and Richard W. Rodriguez/AP)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, (left) and his challenger Beto O'Rourke. (David J. Phillip, file/AP and Richard W. Rodriguez/AP)

With Anthony Brooks

So, here we are. How are political strategists from both parties advising their candidates in this highly charged political moment?


Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of "The Cook Political Report." (@CharlieCookDC)

Margie Omero, Democratic pollster and strategist at GBA Strategies, and co-host of the podcast "The Pollsters." (@MargieOmero)

Whit Ayres, president of North Star Opinion Research, Republican pollster and strategist. (@WhitAyres)

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Listen to the latest episode of "The Pollsters" here.

The Cook Political Report: "Why House Control Is Getting the Headlines" — "This year is one of the few in memory when the fight for control of the House is getting more attention than the one for the Senate, normally the more glamorous of the two. The Senate could flip from Republican to Democratic, but there's about a one-in-three chance of that, and the odds are better that if just one chamber flips, it would be the House. Chambers changing hands are fairly rare occurrences: Prior to President Clinton’s disastrous 1994, the last time the House had switched sides was 1954. But the House that the Democrats once won for 20 consecutive elections has now flipped three times in the last 25 years—1994, 2006, and 2010. That is less frequent than the Senate, which changed control in 1954, 1980 (note a rare presidential-election-year flip), 1986, 1994, 2006, and 2014. At least one of the chambers has flipped in four of the past six midterm elections."

USA Today: "Trump's remarks disputing Russian meddling reverberates along Senate campaign trails nationwide" — "The fallout from President Donald Trump's comments disputing the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election is ricocheting across the country among some of the most competitive U.S. Senate races that could decide which party will control the chamber next year. With Democrats pouncing on the remarks as ammunition to gin-up anti-Trump fervor among their base, Republicans are once again trying to navigate controversial comments by a president who operates outside traditional political boundaries."

Vox: "Poll: immigration has become the No. 1 issue for voters in 2018" — "Democrats have been hammering home two issues in particular ahead of the 2018 midterms: jobs and health care. But between the recent outrage over the Trump administration’s family separation policy and House Republicans taking up a comprehensive bill aimed at fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, one new poll finds that voters thinking about 2018 care most about immigration. Out of 2,002 Republican and Democratic adults (including 1,608 registered voters) surveyed by the Pew Research Center from June 5 to 12, immigration emerged as the top issue they most wanted to hear 2018 candidates talk about. In fact, about one in five voters mentioned immigration — more than mentioned either health care or the economy."

New York Magazine: "The Midterms Are All About Trump" — "It’s a political science truism that midterm elections are typically referenda on the current president, and that the party controlling the White House typically loses ground in midterms that it won in more congenial presidential elections. Because there’s never been a president quite like Donald J. Trump, with his extraordinary ability to dominate the media landscape morning, noon, and night, it stands to reason that he might dominate the thinking of voters looking toward the midterms in an especially powerful way. And that’s exactly what a major new survey from Pew shows."

With a little more than four months to go before the midterm elections, battle lines are being drawn — and more Americans than at any point in the last two decades say they’re fired up to vote. At stake: control of Congress. A chance to check President Trump’s agenda or push it forward. So what issues matter the most? The economy or health care? Taxes or tariffs? Immigration or investigating Trump?

This hour, On Point: Political strategists offer their best advice.

— Anthony Brooks

This program aired on July 19, 2018.


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