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Trump Says A Vote For GOP Midterm Candidates Is A Vote For Him


The Associated Press asked President Trump this week if he would bear some responsibility if Republicans lose the House in November. The president replied, no. But as NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports, Trump may not want the blame if the GOP takes a hit, but he still thinks the election is about him.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: President Trump isn't on the ballot in November, but that doesn't mean he isn't on voters' minds. Alan Abramowitz is a professor of political science at Emory University. He studied midterm elections and says there is a very strong correlation between presidential approval and the results for his party.

ALAN ABRAMOWITZ: Not only is it always about the president to some degree, but there's a lot of reasons to believe that now, this year, it will be even more about the president.

KEITH: And why is that?

ABRAMOWITZ: Well, first of all, because Trump has tried to make it about him.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me and everything that we stand for. A vote for Marcy (ph) is a vote for me. And a vote for Cindy is a vote for me. And a vote for Steve is a vote for me. Remember this. A vote for David is a vote for me and our agenda to make America great again.

KEITH: In the AP interview, Trump explained that he was making this explicit appeal because the people at his rallies are there for him, and some have even told him they don't plan to vote in the midterms. In 2014, President Obama made a similar appeal.


BARACK OBAMA: I'm not on the ballot this fall. Michelle's pretty happy about that. But make no mistake. These policies are on the ballot - every single one of them.

KEITH: At the time, it was seen as a gaffe. Many Democrats were trying to distance themselves from Obama, whose approval rating at the time was in the low 40s. Trump's approval is in a similar spot now. Again, Abramowitz.

ABRAMOWITZ: You know, most Republican incumbents who are at risk of losing their seats would probably rather localize the election, try and make it more about local issues and about things they've done for their state or district and not about the president.

KEITH: But regardless of what candidates want, this is a nationalized election. Sixty percent of voters, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, say Trump will be a factor in their congressional vote, with a greater share saying they will be voting against the president than for him. Tamara Keith, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOUSE ON THE KEYS' "REFLEXION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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