Republican voters love the president for whom he hates
In a closing itch to voters in Milford, rural New Jersey, Leonard Lance offered a definition of his party that sounded like a lament. Republicans, said Mr Lance, who is campaigning for a sixth term in the House of Representatives, “believe in fiscal responsibility and treating everyone with respect.” That is hard to reconcile with a unified Republican government that will double federal borrowing this year, to over $1.3trn. It is also at odds with the closing arguments of President Donald Trump, which include a promise of more unfunded tax cuts and abuse of his opponents, even as the threat of political violence roils the country. Asked to account for the dissonance, Mr Lance said carefully: “This is a highly educated, sophisticated district. Its voters can distinguish between me and any other person, including President Trump.”
Unhappily for Mr Lance, who is known for his decency, bipartisanship and opposition to last year’s tax cuts, they may not. Having won his district, a belt of New York commuter-country packed with affluent college graduates, by 37,000 votes two years ago, he is now trailing his opponent, Tom Malinowski, a former human-rights specialist for Barack Obama. That represents a broader recoiling of well-educated voters against the Trump party. Yet while coverage of the mid-terms has focused on such ways in which Mr Trump has rearranged the electorate, the degree to which he has not done so is far more remarkable.