Veteran pollster Pat Caddell told co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM that Republicans must focus on national issues in congressional elections.
Caddell credited President Donald Trump’s rally for Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania with tightening the special election in the Keystone State’s 18th district. “I believe this election is as close as it is because Trump came into that district. All the polling was showing [Democratic candidate Conor Lamb] should win. I, frankly, was expecting Lamb to win, and maybe not closely. I thought he might win this … because he was a really good candidate for that district.”
Trump “failed to nationalize the race,” said Caddell.
“[Donald Trump], when he went in, had a great performance, I thought, but he failed to nationalize the race,” Caddell said, “He really managed to gear up the base, but when I say ‘nationalize the race,’ Republicans have no strategy for the off years. They have got to nationalize the race. Conor Lamb was able to run on Social Security and Medicare, big things protecting them, which is important in this kind of district, and it is not to be overlooked. They need to understand that they will get slaughtered if the national voting equation is based on, ‘Do you like Trump or not?’”
Trump should have brought issues such as immigration, national security, and trade to the foreground in his support for Saccone. “Trump’s got to make this election about things like immigration. I think the Democrats are extremely vulnerable on immigration. I think they’re extremely vulnerable on national security. I think they’re vulnerable on the economy.”
Republicans must focus on national issues broader than a referendum on attitudes towards Trump, advised Caddell. “They have to make this – they have to ask people what the stakes are because once it’s nationalized, then Republicans who may not like Trump will start coming to their tribe. That’s what happened in Georgia, another district that the Republicans should have lost but didn’t in the end … [because] they nationalized it.”
Mansour and Caddell noted the district’s interest in trade issues — particularly on tariffs — given its share of steelworkers.
“You got to keep in mind also that [Lamb] was a union supportive candidate, and this is a heavily unionized district, and also the Republicans ran a guy who was a right-to-work guy, so he was not union,” said Mansour.
“It feels as if the Democrats ran a Trump candidate,” Mansour added, describing Saccone as “an establishment candidate.” Caddell concurred with her assessment.
Lamb might not have been the Democrats’ candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th district had their been a Democrat primary, according to Caddell. Mansour speculated that a “resistance candidate” within such a primary would have “driven [Lamb] out of the race.”
“[Democrats] got a really attractive candidate who was pro-gun, pro-life, is a moderate,” Caddell said about Lamb. “He said he’d vote against Nancy Pelosi. I don’t know that [Democrats are] going to get that many candidates [like Lamb] nominated, given primaries. I’m not sure that Lamb would have won a primary if there had been a Democratic primary. … Just as we saw in Texas, the progressive candidates did a lot better than the establishment candidates in some cases in key districts that the establishment and the national Democrats wanted.”
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.