Trump vs. the Senate GOP

Jim Geraghty:

Steve Bannon to Sean Hannity this week, discussing efforts to recruit primary challengers to incumbent Republican senators: “Nobody’s safe. We’re coming after all of them.”

If every Republican senator is going to get a primary challenger backed by Bannon, no matter what, then what’s the incentive to vote Bannon’s way between now and Election Day?

“It’s about sending a message!” Yes, it sends the message that there is no amount of loyalty to Trump that is sufficient to placate the Steve Bannons of the world, so you might as well vote the way you and your constituents prefer and let the chips fall where they may.

The problem for the Trump administration is not really one of insufficiently loyal or cooperative Republican senators. Peruse the tables over at Five-Thirty-Eight about how often GOP senators vote the way the Trump administration prefers. Fifteen Republican senators have voted with the White House 95.9 percent of the time. The least “loyal” Republican senator is Susan Collins of Maine, and even she has voted with the White House position 79 percent of the time. The most cooperative Democrat has been Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who votes with the White House position 55 percent of the time.

Apparently the angry populists can’t read a chart. If the Trump administration wants to get more legislation passed by the Senate, it doesn’t need different Republicans; it needs more Republicans. Replacing the most cooperative Democrat with the least cooperative Republican will still get a vote going your way an additional 24 percent of the time. A person who really wanted to see the Trump agenda become law would skip over the primary challenges and focus entirely on unseating the half-dozen or so vulnerable Democratic senators in 2018.


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