“In conversations with several Republicans both in the state or watching the overall Senate battleground, Arizona has moved down their list of flippable states, with many even seeing Pennsylvania — a rating which we shifted last month but where Democrat John Fetterman has faced an onslaught of ads on crime and persistent questions about his health — as more likely now to stay in the GOP column than winning Arizona,” concludes Taylor.
Arizona’s new rating is notable because at the outset of the 2022 election cycle, the race, along with Georgia, was seen by many as the most likely pickup opportunity for Republicans. The state had long been a Republican stronghold, although Democrats had made gains of late with Joe Biden carrying it in 2020 and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema winning in 2018.
But the problems experienced by Masters — and the Arizona GOP more generally — are indicative of how Donald Trump (and Trumpism) have roiled the party and left it more vulnerable in general elections.
Masters is not alone in struggling to adjust to the differing challenges of the general election. In Pennsylvania, Republican Mehmet Oz has fallen behind Fetterman in the state’s open-seat Senate race. And in Ohio, Republican JD Vance finds himself in a surprisingly close contest with Democrat Tim Ryan in the race to replacing retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
All three Republicans find themselves stuck in the horns of the dilemma currently facing the GOP. To win their primaries, they needed to embrace Trump and the often extreme positions of the Republican base. (All three won the former President’s endorsement.) But now, as their party’s nominees, those same policies are decidedly detrimental to their chances of winning a general election.
And that awkward dance is jeopardizing Republicans’ chances in what once looked like a near-certainty: winning the Senate majority this fall.
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