Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is on the verge of becoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s favorite person – and Donald Trump’s worst enemy.
Bannon’s so-called “war against the GOP establishment,” is the worst strategic action Republicans could take right now. He is planning to find primary challengers for six of the seven Republican senators running for re-election in 2018. Only Senator Ted Cruz has been spared his wrath. Senator Bob Corker’s decision to not seek a third term leaves an eighth Republican-controlled seat open. As I said on Martha MacCallum’s show, The Story, this week, Bannon’s plan is the wrong strategy.
Every single Senator that Bannon is trying to replace has overwhelmingly supported the Trump agenda: all voted to repeal Obamacare; all supported President Trump’s Cabinet nominations; all supported the American Health Care Act; all supported the so-called Skinny Repeal of Obamacare; and all voted to confirm conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Data analyst Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website has tracked how these six Republicans, and other lawmakers, have voted on legislation that supports President Trump’s agenda. While there are many conservatives, myself included, frustrated with the pace of progress in Washington, the data makes it clear that these Senators are not the ones slowing things down:
John Barrasso - 95.9 percent
Orrin Hatch - 95.9 percent
Roger Wicker - 95.9 percent
Deb Fischer - 91.8 percent
Jeff Flake - 91.5 percent
Dean Heller - 89.8 percent
Each one of these Republicans is also very likely to vote for the Trump-Republican tax cut, as well as future legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. In fact, three of them have voted with Trump’s agenda just as often as Cruz has. Cruz was tracked at 93.9 percent on the FiveThirtyEight website.
At the same time, there are 23 Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 – as well as two independent Senators who caucus with the Democrats.
All 25 of these left-wing Senators have opposed every attempt to repeal Obamacare, voted against the American Health Care Act, and only three supported Gorsuch’s confirmation. Among these Democrats, only Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp have supported Trump initiatives more than half the time – largely out of fear of being voted out of office.
This leads to the key point: 10 of these Democrat-held seats (including the ones held by Manchin and Heitkamp) are in states which President Trump won in 2016. At least six are seriously vulnerable. Does Bannon really think it’s more important to get rid of people like Barrasso and Hatch (who are with the President 95.9 percent of the time) than it is to replace Jon Tester (38.8 percent), Bill Nelson (36.7 percent), or Sherrod Brown (30.6 percent)?
If we are serious about enacting the Trump agenda, we should focus our energy on replacing the Democrats voting against it, not the Republicans voting in favor of it. If Bannon invested the resources at his disposal toward this end, we could potentially gain a 56- or 57-seat pro-Trump agenda majority in the Senate next year. President Trump would then be in a much stronger position to deliver real change.
Bannon should end his war on the GOP. Now is the time to support the Trump agenda, not undermine it.