* Bloomberg takes a look at Donald Trump’s potential impact on US Senate races…
“We’ve been preparing and running with the expectation that a Democrat will win Illinois maybe by 10 points,” [Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign manager Kevin Artl] said.
That means that, to win against Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth, who is challenging him, Kirk has to outperform the top of the ticket by five or six points.
The key to making up this deficit, according to Artl, is to focus on Kirk’s personal brand: “Fiscal conservative, social moderate, national security hawk,” he describes it. Artl mentions Kirk’s support for immigration reform, gay marriage and abortion rights, and the fact that he speaks Spanish.
The campaign is pressing hard on that specific qualification. It provided (partial) internal polling that said Kirk was beating Duckworth among Hispanics by more than six points in April. Artl said the candidates are essentially tied with independent women.
When he goes on the offensive, the strategy will be to paint Duckworth as the real Washington insider. Kirk might target Duckworth’s endorsement of Clinton, Artl said, but he’s more likely to hit her over a lawsuit against her from her time as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the fact that former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is imprisoned on corruption charges, appointed her to the position.
* Just 10 points? Well, Obama won Illinois in 2012 by 17 points and won in 2008 by 25 points. Then again, John Kerry beat President Bush by 11 points and Al Gore beat Bush by 12 points. Those Republican candidates were all solidly within the GOP mainstream, unlike the currently presumptive nominee, who has the highest unfavorables in modern presidential campaign history…
In response to [last night’s] developments in the Republican presidential primary race, Duckworth deputy campaign manager Matt McGrath released the following statement:
“Six weeks ago, Republican Mark Kirk pledged that he ‘certainly would’ support Donald Trump if he was his party’s nominee. Tonight, he got his wish. Congratulations.”
Clinton’s unfavorables are also extremely high, but assuredly not as high here as they are nationally.
* Also, the Paul Simon Institute poll found that fully a quarter of Illinois voters didn’t know enough about Kirk to rate him…
“(T)here is an unusually large number who say they do not know what kind of job he is doing” [said John S. Jackson, a visiting professor at the institute]
You gotta build a brand before you can campaign on it.
* To be clear, I don’t think this is going to be an easy race for Duckworth. Sen. Kirk is one of the better campaigners this state has produced in quite a while. But the trend is definitely not his friend.