Meanwhile, the editors of the Wall Street Journal are more pragmatic in their reactions:
This is largely Mr. Trump’s failure, and the nearby table from the October Wall Street Journal-NBC poll puts his problem in sharp relief. While 44% of voters approve of Mr. Trump’s policies, nearly half of them dislike him personally. That 20% is five times the percentage who disliked George W. Bush but liked his policies when he lost the House in 2006, and 10 times the share that disliked Barack Obama in 2013.
More glaringly, the share of voters who dislike Mr. Trump personally but like his policies increased in the past two years. This is extraordinary for a new President and shows the extent of his missed opportunity. Some two-thirds of voters on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the state of the economy, and these are people he’d win if he didn’t alienate them with his persona.
Unlike Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, Mr. Trump has made no effort to build a larger coalition than the minority who helped win the Presidency narrowly over Hillary Clinton. Instead he has played constantly to his base who are already loyal. If he wants to be re-elected, he will have to win over more of those suburban Republicans and independents.
Mr. Trump’s closing argument on immigration also looks to have been a bust. It didn’t help in suburban districts and may have cost Republican Carlos Curbelo his House seat in South Florida. White House aide Stephen Miller bears much of the responsibility for this misjudgment. He advised Mr. Trump to walk away from a potential deal trading legalization for the so-called Dreamers in return for money for border security and “the wall.” Then he urged the border crackdown that became the fiasco of family separation that further turned off suburban voters.
Mr. Trump could have improved his chances to hold the House by accepting a deal and declaring a border victory. Suburban Republicans want border security, but they also want a humane and generous immigration policy. Mr. Trump needs to rethink his immigration strategy for 2020.
The other liability for Republicans was their failure to repeal and replace health care. Democrats played on voter fears of repeal but the GOP could never point to the benefits of a replacement they didn’t pass. Then too many Republicans simply ran away from the subject, giving Democrats an open field. The late Senator John McCain delivered the final blow against reform, but the general GOP incoherence on the subject was also to blame.
I think I would be a little harsher on the Republicans than that. The Republicans need a health care policy beyond repealing the Affordable Care Act. Other than their opposition to ObamaCare they’re basically AWOL on the issue and Democrats took advantage of that vacuum.
I’ve got to admit that I have no idea what a viable Republican health care policy beyond repealing ObamaCare might be. They may have painted themselves into an ideological corner.