Whether Conservatives and Republicans running for office like it or not, President Donald Trump is back on the ballot again in 2018, not 2020.
If national Democrats made one thing clear in last week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race, it is that they are going to spend money hand over fist to nationalize races up and down the ballot.
Supreme Court races in the Badger State are, on paper, non-partisan. But that didn’t stop the winner—liberal Milwaukee Judge Rebecca Dallet—from running television ads attacking President Trump, making gun control and her disdain for the National Rifle Association a central tenant of her campaign, and seeking and securing the endorsements of former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Senator and likely 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Cory Booker, and President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder. In the late stages of the campaign, even Hollywood liberals such as Chelsea Handler piled on.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t just the campaign that sought to nationalize the race. Outside groups poured resources and support into Wisconsin, focusing their messaging on President Trump and traditional liberal-progressive policies and values like gun control, abortion rights, marriage equality, and environmental issues.
The result of last week’s election was strikingly similar to a special-election for a state Senate seat in Wisconsin in late 2017, when a Democrat easily won a rural and reliably-Republican seat that President Trump carried by 17 points in 2016.
With multiple statewide elections on the ballot in Wisconsin in November, Republicans at all levels are sounding the alarm bell, and rightfully so. Results in Virginia’s statewide 2017 election, Western Pennsylvania’s recent Congressional race, and countless state-level races that have flipped from blue-to-red since President Trump took office underscore an alarming trend.
Clearly, there is a wide enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democrats nationwide. In Dane County — which is home to Wisconsin’s capital city Madison and its flagship university — Judge Dallet actually received more votes (107,760) in a non-partisan spring election where statewide turnout was just over 20 percent than Bernie Sanders did (102,585) when he defeated Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin’s 2016 Democrat presidential primary.
Republicans certainly have time to overcome this gap, but it is going to require a willingness to embrace the policies they have championed and passed at the federal level since the election of President Trump and at the state and local level for nearly a decade. Incumbents and first-timers alike cannot simply attempt to run away from President Trump, because Democrats won’t let them. If a Supreme Court candidate in Wisconsin can use attacks against the president and his agenda to win a non-partisan spring election when there is still snow on the ground, just imagine what actual on-paper Democrat candidates are going to campaign on in the summer and fall.
If Republicans don’t get to work starting yesterday localizing and personalizing their campaigns by focusing on the policies they’ve passed—more jobs, higher wages, tax reform, regulatory reform, education reform, health care reform, spending cuts, to name a few—and the positive impact their efforts have had on workers and families in their communities, they can kiss their majorities and their decades of conservative accomplishments goodbye.
Sean Lansing is a partner with The Champion Group, a political campaign communication firm.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.