The “Biggest Loser” Election?

Donald Trump owes some of his contemporary fame and notoriety to his hit reality TV show “The Apprentice.” But if this election cycle were re-imagined as a reality TV show (which doesn’t actually require “re-imagining” since it is all too real), it would have to be as a new iteration of “The Biggest Loser.”

The news today is that each person has huge negatives with voters. One poll shows Trump with a 60 percent disapproval/dislike rating, and Hillary at 55 percent disapproval/dislike. I suspect Trump has hit his ceiling, while Hillary has considerably more upside in her unpopularity. As many observers point out, the more visible Hillary is, the more unpopular she becomes. Throughout the spring and early summer she has disappeared from public appearances for up to three or four days at a time (continuing to fuel rumors about her underlying health) while Trump has been doing his daily roller-coaster/bungee jump campaign, but in the fall she’ll have to be out screeching every day, and Trump will seem as familiar and bearable as your crazy uncle at Thanksgiving.

The practical effect, apparent already, is that down ballot candidates from both parties are running away from their own nominees. Hitherto it has been supposed it would be Republican down ballot candidates who would run away from Trump, but the Washington Post reports this morning that the same thing seems to be happening with regard to Hillary. Instead, Democratic candidates are all clamoring to appear with Obama.

So we have the spectacle of down ballot candidates saying, effectively, “No—my party’s candidate is the Biggest Loser!” The prospect of partisan de-coupling—what used to be called “ticket-splitting”—is back. This probably helps Republicans in tight Senate races slightly, because if it looks like Hillary is going to win, they’ll be making the argument that they need to be returned to the Senate as a check on the untrustworthy Hillary. And it just might work. There’s polling evidence this morning showing several endangered Republican senators in swing states where Hillary is currently ahead opening leads in their own races.