That’s the upshot of a bitter civil war that has broken out between Donald Trump and what’s left of the Republican Party establishment. With elected Republicans defecting from Trump in droves, he has decided to fight a two-front battle against Hillary Clinton and his erstwhile allies. And he has not been gentle.
This, more than anything Clinton might have said or done in the months since the Democratic National Convention, has jeopardized the GOP’s chances of holding on to the Senate and the House. As Republican moderates peel away from Trump, it hurts those lawmakers who have refused to disown him, like Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio in Florida. As Republican hard-liners take their anger out on Trump’s betrayers, it lowers the floor of support for lawmakers who have abandoned him, like John McCain and Rob Portman in Ohio. Republicans are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
As Five Thirty Eight notes, “Trump is more popular among Republicans right now than” Paul Ryan is. We are now seeing why it took so long for Ryan and others to finally give Trump up for dead—the carnage is devastating. But all of this is as it should be: Carnage is the price you pay for nominating Trump in the first place.