Re-Election Troubles Loom for Five Vulnerable Democrat Senators

A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll found that these lawmakers are poised to lose their 2018 races in states President Trump won in 2016

Five incumbent Democratic senators are trailing their Republican challengers in key 2018 midterm election races, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

After losing the White House and failing to win majorities in either the House or the Senate, Democrats are pushing hard to take Congress back in 2018. The poll, conducted between February 12 and March 5 among 17,289 registered voters in the states in question, found that Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Jon Tester (Mont.) would lose to their GOP opponents if elections were held today.

“Democrats are defending 10 Senate seats in states that President Trump won in 2016,” Axios noted in reporting the poll’s results. “In six of those states, Trump’s approval is higher than 50 percent (compared to 43 percent nationally). These numbers underscore how hard it will be for Democrats to pick up the two seats needed to win the majority despite Trump’s troubles.”

Tester (shown above, far left) found himself trailing 13 percentage points behind a generic Republican opponent in Montana, while Manchin lagged 9 percentage points behind a generic GOP challenger. McCaskill fell 8 percentage points behind Missouri’s Republican Attorney General, Josh Hawley, while Donnelly trailed 6 percentage points behind a generic GOP challenger. Heitkamp was 2 percentage points behind a generic GOP opponent.

The poll found that Trump maintained relatively high approval ratings in the five states these senators represented. Trump clinched a 53 percent approval rating in Indiana, 55 percent in Missouri, 58 percent in Montana, 60 percent in North Dakota, and 65 percent in West Virginia.

Some of these vulnerable Democratic senators have tried to walk a fine line between catering to their Democratic bases while listening to the concerns of Trump voters in their states. Manchin in particular said he tries to find common ground with the president and work from there.

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Regarded as one of the Senate’s most moderate Democrats, Manchin broke away from many of his colleagues on the Left who purposely obstruct Trump’s “America First” agenda nearly every step of the way.

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Manchin told “The Laura Ingraham Show” in March 2017 that he was frustrated with the “hostile environment” in Congress as his Democratic colleagues categorically refused to work with the president.

“You have to look for the opportunities to move forward, and I’m looking for every opportunity I can to move forward with the president, help my state, help my country,” Manchin had said. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”

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But Manchin apparently hasn’t done enough to woo West Virginia voters in a state that Trump carried by nearly 69 percent on Election Day in 2016.

The three Democratic senators from states Trump won on Election Day that face the least amount of re-election danger are Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.), all of whom led in the poll by 5 percent or more.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, article image: Claire McCaskill, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Mark Schierbecker)

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