I’m not sure if you noticed, but President Trump loves a rally. And rally he will as the midterm elections (finally) come down to the wire. Trump’s public schedule for the next week just came out, and he’s got quite the road trip planned: Florida (twice), Missouri (twice), Indiana (twice), West Virginia, Montana, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio.
Notice anything? If you thought, “Gee, a lot of those states have high-profile Senate races!” you would be correct. So is Trump’s schedule smart if he’s looking to shore up as many tight Senate races as possible? Is he spending his time wisely? The answer: Sure, sorta. But he could have made a couple of adjustments if he was obsessively refreshing our models.
FiveThirtyEight’s Senate model has a component called the tipping-point chance that looks at the probability that a race will decide whether the Democrats or Republicans hold the majority. As of today, here’s what that list looks like:
A lot of Trump’s schedule makes Senate-map-sense to me. Of our top tipping-point states, Trump is visiting Missouri, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee and Montana. And he’s visiting Missouri, Indiana and Florida twice, so it’s obvious that the White House realizes those states’ importance for holding the Senate. And of the other FiveThirtyEight top tipping-point states, it makes sense that Trump isn’t visiting North Dakota, Mississippi or Texas, since Republicans seem pretty confident they’ll win those races come next Tuesday. His presence in Montana is of interest, though, given that our model has Democratic Sen. Jon Tester with a 6 in 7 chance of winning the race. The public polls give Tester a clear edge, but could Republicans’ internal polling be showing a tighter race?
But one thing I’m wondering: If he’s going by the numbers, why isn’t Trump going to Arizona or Nevada, two states with tight races that are at the top of our tipping-point index? Why instead is he going to West Virginia, Ohio and Georgia, which don’t have close Senate races?
I can explain part of that, I think. Ohio and Georgia have close governor’s races that Trump wants to see Republicans win. The West Virginia stop doesn’t make a whole lot of sense this week, though. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a strong lead in that state and there’s no governor’s race there this year. That said, West Virginia was a strong state for Trump in 2016, so it could be that the president just wants to drop by, say hello and keep up the goodwill.
A trip to the Southwest might have been in order, though. Nevada and Arizona are both tight races and ones where Republicans are looking for any help they can get. To be fair, it’s not as if the president hasn’t been to Arizona or Nevada lately. He rallied in both states earlier this month, and his son Eric Trump visited Nevada on Monday. Trump could be worried about optics — what if the Republican candidates in each of those states lose right after he’s rallied for them? There’s a decent shot that could happen. FiveThirtyEight rates both Nevada and Arizona as close — Nevada is a toss-up, and in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has a 2 in 3 chance of winning. Trump was never one for losing, after all.