Big Drop In Voters Identifying as Republicans

NBC News: “From November 2016 to November 2017 there was a 5-point drop in the number of people who call themselves Republicans, from 42% to 37%, according to Gallup. In that same time, the number of people identifying as Democrats stayed flat at 44%.”

“Do the math and a 2-point edge for the Democrats in party identification, 44% to 42%, has been pushed to 7 points, 44% to 37%, in just one year. That’s getting up into the area that may be a concern for Republicans in the 2018 midterms, where a big swing in party allegiance could lead to a swing in House and Senate seats. “

What If Republicans Don’t Care If Trump Is Guilty?

Eugene Robinson: “We need to prepare for the eventuality that the Mueller probe catches President Trump, family members and associates red-handed — and Republicans in Congress refuse to do anything about it.”

“This is beginning to look like a possible or even probable outcome. With a cravenness matched only by its arrogance, the GOP is Trump’s party now. It no longer has any claim to be Lincoln’s.”

Tax Bill Shows How GOP Has Folded Inward

Ron Brownstein: “There is a more straightforward reason why not a single Democrat backed the legislation: The GOP not only entirely excluded Democrats from the process of drafting the bills, but the party punished Democratic constituencies—from residents of high-tax states to graduate students—in the bills’ substance. The tax plans represent a political closed circle: bills written solely by Republicans and passed solely by Republican votes that shower their greatest benefits on Republican constituencies. Meanwhile, the biggest losers in the plans are the constituencies of the Democrats who universally opposed them. It’s not just redistribution: The tax bills are also grounded in retribution.”

“In that way, the tax debate offers the clearest measure of how powerfully the Republican Party in the Trump era is folding inward. Neither Trump nor GOP congressional leaders are even pretending to represent the entire country—or to consider perspectives beyond those of their core coalition.”

Republicans Hammer Mueller as Investigation Intensifies

“Republican activists and lawmakers are engaged in a multi-front attack on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible connections between associates of President Trump and Russian agents, trying to stop or curtail the investigation as it moves further into Trump’s inner circle,” the Washington Post reports.

“For months, the president and his allies have been seizing on any whiff of possible impropriety by Mueller’s team or the FBI to argue that the Russia probe is stacked against Trump — potentially building the political support needed to dismiss the special counsel.”

“Several law enforcement officials said they are concerned that the constant drumbeat of conservative criticism seems designed to erode Mueller’s credibility, making it more politically palatable to remove, restrict or simply ignore his recommendations as his investigation progresses.”

Conservative Writer Says He’ll Never Vote for GOP Again

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens told MSNBC he can never vote Republican again because of the party’s backing of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R).

Said Stephens: “Until last year, I voted Republican in every single election,” while adding he did not vote for Donald Trump.

He added: “I could never vote ever again for a party that is making an open endorsement of a man against whom there are credible accusations of pedophilia. Any of us who have teenage children know exactly what we would do with a 32-year-old man who made sexual advances on our children. This is one of those moments in history where people will look back and say that is the moment of shame.”

RNC Won’t Publicly Defend Decision to Back Roy Moore

“The RNC’s renewed support for Roy Moore comes with a peculiar caveat: No one at the RNC is actually defending the decision publicly,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“On Tuesday — as the national party took a beating for the decision — including from many fellow Republicans, the RNC remained silent. Several RNC committee members acknowledged frustrations but would not speak on the record. Senior party leaders punted questions to spokespersons who declined to comment.”

Said one source close to the RNC: “Oh man. It’s embarrassing.”

A Republican Party In Chaos Heading Into Midterms

New York Times: “As the party prepares for a midterm election that could bring a fierce backlash against a historically unpopular president, Republicans are growing more alarmed that a difficult race could be made worse without some semblance of planning to avert more discord.”

“Some top party officials say they are worried that the political environment may prove punishing enough to cost Republicans control of the House.”

“But an organization that can fend off such a landslide does not appear in the offing. In a departure from every modern White House, Mr. Trump himself largely dictates whom to back and how to support his preferred candidates.”

Politico: GOP senators grumble over Trump, RNC backing Roy Moore.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Either we’re saddled with a Democrat in a seat that ought to be Republican or we’re saddled with a brand anvil that’s going to drag down the president, drag down the Senate, drag down the party and plunge the Senate into immediate turmoil when he gets there.”

— Republican strategist Scott Jennings, quoted by the New York Times, on Roy Moore’s (R) Senate candidacy in Alabama.