At the data analysis website FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich asks the question “Could Corey Lewandowski Help Republicans Win The New Hampshire Senate Race?” The question itself is odd. Corey Lewandowski is a potential GOP Senate candidate, not campaign manager or fundraiser. The only way he could “help Republicans win” would be to actually win. To defeat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in next year’s general election.
The headline appears to be a collision between two related questions. One is whether Lewandowski — or any other Republican candidate currently in the race — can beat Shaheen next year. Consensus answer among NHGOP insiders: Probably not.
The other question is whether Lewandowski, Trump’s pugnacious sidekick, helps or hurts the Republican Party by getting into the race. And on this question, there is no consensus. Some NHGOP’ers see Lewandowski as a disaster waiting to happen. Others see him as a potential bonus to the GOP 2020 strategy that is already taking shape.
Where you fall on the Corey question depends on whether you embrace the premise that the 2020 election is going to be all about Trump. From U.S. Senator to selectman, candidates will rise or fall based on how they’re impacted by the Trump effect, and any attempt to evade it is doomed to fail.
If that’s true — if 2020 is Trump’s world and every other Republican candidate is living (or dying) in it — then the NHGOP should hope Corey gets in the race. He’ll bring in Trump money and Trump energy –not to mention Trump himself — to engage the low-motivation, non-college educated voters that are Trump’s only hope for carrying the Granite State.
If you believe NHGOP chairman Steve Stepanek is right and there are tens of thousands of disengaged voters who’ve emotionally connected with Trump and will turn out for him, then Corey really can “help Republicans win,” even if he loses. Every non-traditional voter he and Trump get to the polls is likely to be a vote for the entire GOP. These aren’t voters who split their ticket among ideological choices.
In fact, these aren’t voters. They’re Trump supporters, the sort of people who packed Trump’s rally at the SNHU arena two weeks ago, or stood outside by the hundreds just to watch it on TV.
They have no loyalty to the Republican Party. They have undying loyalty to Donald Trump. And he’s the one candidate who can convert them to registered voters.
Some Granite State Republicans reject this argument. They believe Corey Lewandowski is such a lousy candidate he will drive away moderate voters and depress GOP turnout.
“The more people know about Corey, the more he depresses Republican voters, depresses Independent voters who might be tired of Shaheen and hurts the entire ticket,” one GOP strategist told NHJournal. “#DoomsdayScenario!”
Setting aside their personal views of Lewandowski, the premise appears flawed on its face. Name a voter who’s going to find a way to stick with the GOP through four years of Donald Trump, but then announce: “Corey Lewandowski? Now that’s going too far! Where’s my ‘I’ve Got A Plan For That’ t-shirt?”
Ironically, the most on-point analysis comes from one of the most outspoken NeverTrumpers in the state, former NHGOP chairman Fergus Cullen, who told NHJournal weeks ago his party’s fate is inextricably linked to Trump’s. And so, Cullen argues, if you’re gonna go Trump–Go Trump.
“You’re going to pay the penance,” Fergus said. “So you might as well commit the sin.”
“Committing the sin” means acknowledging that another 2018 #BlueTsunami is on its way to New Hampshire, that Republicans who attack Trump won’t add a single vote by doing so, and that the only hope is for Trump’s presence on the ticket can create a wave of its own to neutralize the coming Democratic deluge. And part of that strategy would be to have Lewandowski on the ticket helping drag out every last one of those votes.
If there aren’t enough Trump voters to counter the anti-Trump tide, then the GOP is doomed anyway. Possibly including Gov. Sununu.
But if it does work, the NHGOP might fight to a draw in 2020. Who knows–the party may even get back some of the redder legislative districts Democrats picked up in 2018.
Either way, the New Hampshire 2020 election is going to be the Trump Show. With or without Corey Lewandowski.