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Trump vs. the GOP’s old guard — What to watch for in Ohio: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Mar19,2024



Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s edition, senior national political reporter and Buckeye State native Henry Gomez explains what to watch for tonight’s results in the Ohio Senate Republican primary. Plus, national political reporter Steve Kornacki explains why the drop in split voting is making it harder for Democrats to retain control of the Senate.


3 things to watch in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary

By Henry J. Gomez

Ohio volatile Republican Senate primary suggest clear dividing lines Since 2016, there has been a massacre between the new GOP establishment led by Donald Trump and the old establishment Trump.

Trump, who won Ohio twice by 8 points, helped promote JD Vance to the Senate in 2022. He is trying to do the same this year. With Bernie Morenoformer car salesman.


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Nevertheless, the old guard continues. Key allies of Gov. Mike DeWine, former Sen. Rob Portman and former Gov. John Kasich support state Sen. Matt Dolan, a more traditional conservative who has kept Trump at bay.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is third in the poll. The winner is expected to be a tight and expensive general election with Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. Three things to look out for in tonight’s preliminary results:

Is the Trump magic still real in Ohio? Many expected Trump’s endorsement to effectively secure the nomination — and it still might. But the former president and Moreno had to work hard in recent days to close the deal.

Despite a flurry of Moreno ads, Trump-leaning voters were open to hearing from Dolan, the wealthy candidate who spent millions on TV to make sure they didn’t hear him.

Moreno’s allies did not panic in the last hours.

“If you remember our race, it was Matt Dolan going up against a Trump-endorsed candidate,” Vance told NBC News on Monday at the Moreno campaign, noting Dolan’s third-place finish in the 2022 GOP Senate race. “Of course, the Trump-endorsed candidate was cleared in the end. I think it will happen with Bernie tomorrow.

Where will Dolan run strong? At the end of the 2022 race, Dolan’s rise was real, albeit too little, too late.

But looking at his performance, Tuesday shows where his greatest potential lies. He won three counties – Franklin, Geauga and its home base of Cuyahoga – trailed Vance by significant margins and in Hamilton and Lake counties.

Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus), and Hamilton (Cincinnati) comprise the state’s three most populous cities. Moreno also lives in Cuyahoga and won the endorsement of state GOP organizations there and in Franklin.

Lake County, which covers the eastern edges of Cleveland, is a particularly swing area, full of voters important to Dolan’s coalition. He spent about an hour there Sunday pouring pints of Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day revelers at the Willoughby bar.

How far does LaRose fall? On paper, LaRose entered the race as the frontrunner. He’s been elected to statewide office twice, has a glittering resume (Eagle Scout, Green Beret) and, until this race, was primarily known for his centrist and pragmatic policies.

But the previous one No tag fan tried repackage itself as a conservative crusader. He participated in an abortion debate in Ohio last year. defense of the ballot measure this would make it difficult to pass a proposed amendment to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution. The push failed. LaRose then led the charge against the amendment. It definitely passed.

Tuesday’s loss would give LaRose an 0-3 record in less than a year.

Voting in Ohio closes at 7:30 p.m. ET. Follow along with the results here.


Democrats’ Senate challenge: Separate voting is declining

Analysis by Steve Kornacki

Democrats clarified They want Moreno to win tonight, figuring Brown will be the toughest GOP candidate to beat.

But even if they get their way, Democrats will still face a difficult obstacle as they try to protect both Brown’s seat and their slim Senate majority this November: a dramatic collapse of the split vote that has marked the Trump era.

At one time, it was common for Senate candidates to win elections, even as their states voted for the other party’s presidential candidates. In the 1984 and 1988 elections, this happened in almost half of all Senate races.

Back then, each party had far less ideological definition than it does today, and the sharp demographic, geographic, and cultural divides that now divide Democratic and Republican coalitions had yet to emerge. But as these divisions formed in the 1990s, such split-ticket voting began a long and steady decline that, like many other political trends, accelerated when Trump came on the scene:

As you can see, in 2016 and 2020 combined, there was only one state that split partisan loyalties between the presidential and Senate races. That state was Maine, which voted for Joe Biden by 9 points in 2020 when it re-elected Republican Sen. Susan Collins by the same margin. In the last two presidential elections, the winner of all other Senate races came from the same party as the US candidate. the winning candidate in that state’s presidential election.

Democrats will have to buck that trend to win Ohio this fall. With Trump as the GOP standard bearer, the state has shifted to the right. And Trump is expected to carry Ohio again this year, meaning Brown will have to convince a critical segment of Trump voters to leave the GOP in the Senate race and support him instead.

In his three previous Senate victories, Brown has never faced this challenge. He was elected in the blue wave midterm year of 2006, reelected in 2012 as Barack Obama carried Ohio, and reelected again in 2018, another blue wave midterm.

Even if Brown succeeds in November, it won’t be enough to keep the Senate, which Democrats now hold 51-49. That’s because two other Democratic-held seats in Trump states also increased this year. Democrats will have to capture one of them to have any chance of keeping the majority, and since they largely left West Virginia (where Sen. Joe Manchin is retiring), that means they’re relying on Sen. Jon Tester in Montana. , a state that supported Trump by 16 points four years ago.

In other words, Democrats will need a lot of help from Trump voters to save their Senate majority.



🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🚫 Dos and Don’ts to Labels: At least a dozen potential candidates have rejected No Labels’ offers as they try to craft a third-party presidential ticket. The group has so far provided access to ballots in 17 states. More →
  • 🗺️ All over the map: An NBC News investigation found that Trump’s views on Social Security and Medicare have zigzagged over the years, leaving his campaign unclear on his current position. More →
  • ➡️ Pressure from the right: It’s not just Kevin McCarthy: In at least three states — Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin — GOP House leaders are facing open rebellion on their right wing. More →
  • ⚖️ Border Collision: The Supreme Court has allowed Texas to implement a controversial new law that gives local police the power to detain migrants. The Biden administration had sued to block the law. More →
  • 🕰️ Time to do: Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro began serving a four-month sentence in a Miami prison after pleading guilty to contempt of Congress last year. More →
  • ⬅️ Go in a different direction: Bloomberg reports that Vivek Ramaswamy is no longer on Trump’s VP short list. More →
  • 💸 Trump’s money problem : CNBC explores some of the root causes of Trump’s fundraising woes, including fatigue from small donors and hesitation among big donors whether their cash will go toward the former president’s legal fees or help Republicans win elections. More →

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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