Senator John Thune maintains his awkward embrace of Donald Trump by (a) avoiding comment on his candidate’s poor performance in Monday’s Presidential debate and (b) pretending that people see no connection between his own Senate race and the muckmeister atop his ticket.
Rather than acknowledging that Clinton won Monday’s Presidential debate hands down, Senator Thune tells WNAX that the debate “maybe” matters only to “a few people” who haven’t made up their minds yet. Saddled with a Presidential nominee whose failure to prep for an important TV appearance shows a man too lazy and unfocused to be President, Senator Thune distracts us with horserace commentary rather than honesty.
Thune then peddles a wishful thinking as political science:
My sense is that people are kinda making their decision at the Presidential level this year based on other forces and kind of independent of the other races on the ballot and then looking at these other candidates and making their own decisions and not necessarily linking the two [Senator John Thune, in “SD Senator John Thune: Debate Didn’t Change Many Minds,” WNAX, 2016.09.29].
Yes, John, we know you hope people put Trump out of their minds when they turn to the next line of the ballot to choose between you, representative of Trumpism, and Democrat Jay Williams, representative of the party that didn’t flip its lid this year. But your “sense” flies in the face of empirical evidence of increasing correlation between Presidential vote and Senatorial vote due to increasing polarization over the past decade:
…for the most part there’s a clear connection between where the polls put Senate and presidential races in each state. In fact, the connection is about as close as we’d expect based on recent elections. Two years ago, my colleague Dhrumil Mehta and I noted that 77 percent of the variation in the 2014 Senate election results could be explained by the variation in the 2008 and 2012 presidential vote in those states [Harry Enten, “Senate Update: Races for the Senate and White House Are Moving in Near Lockstep,” FiveThirtyEight, 2016.09.28].
Over the last 100 years, the President–Senate vote correlation was pretty solid from 1916 to 1956, dipped notably from the 1960s into the 1980s, and has rebounded over the last 30 years. In 2012, the correlation between Presidential results and Senate race results was a strong 0.781.
In other words, Senator Thune’s observation on the nature of Senate races across the country is detached from reality… which is really the state any politician must be in to have watched Monday’s debate and continue endorsing Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.