The party is scrambling to shore up seats deep in Trump country, where incumbents won by double digits in 2016.
Republicans are rushing to shore up congressional seats deep in the heart of Trump country as they come to an alarming realization: In this midterm election, few GOP lawmakers are safe.
GOP leaders are pressing Republican lawmakers in conservative areas to get their sluggish campaigns in order. They’re pleading with major donors to open their wallets for incumbents in seats previously thought to be secure. And they’re polling districts President Donald Trump won comfortably just a year and a half ago, searching for signs of trouble.
While most of the party’s efforts have been focused on defending swing districts, Republicans are increasingly turning their attention to more conservative areas, from suburban Phoenix to rural Virginia, fearful that they too could be casualties of a midterm bloodbath.
Party officials say they‘ve learned the lessons Democrats failed to heed during the 2010 House GOP takeover. That year, a number of Democratic-held seats once thought to be safe became endangered just before the election, giving the national party little time to mount a rescue campaign.
“In a year like this, every Republican is vulnerable. If you don’t take your race seriously, you’ll probably lose,” said Robert Blizzard, a veteran Republican pollster who’s working on a number of congressional races. “The Democratic enthusiasm is no joke. They’re coming to the polls in November no matter what. Don’t run a strong campaign at your own potential peril.”
Republicans are racing to lock down an upcoming special election in a deep-red Arizona district that Trump won by 21 percentage points. After losing in a conservative Pennsylvania district last month, the national party poured over $400,000 into the suburban Phoenix seat.