With Donald Trump trailing in the polls, the focus of the U.S. election has increasingly been on the fight over who will control the Senate and the House of Representatives. While the House looks relatively safe for Republicans because of an imbalance in how the districts are drawn, the Senate could go either way. In states where Hillary Clinton now looks likely to win, that poses a particular challenge for the Republican candidates. To avoid losing, they need to convince some voters who vote for Hillary Clinton for President, to instead vote Republican in the other contest, so-called split-ticket voting.
For some Congressional races, Republican candidates have begun emphasizing the need for a Republican Congress to provide a check on a President Hillary Clinton. For this, a number of Senate and House candidates have begun running ads with this message, placing them somewhat at odds with Trump’s campaign because they tacitly acknowledge that Clinton is likely to win over Trump.
The problem the Republican candidates face, is that they are swimming against the historical currents of party loyalty. Split-ticket voting has been on the decline over the last few decades as U.S. politics and the American public have become more polarized.
This year, however, the hope is that there are enough voters who strongly oppose Trump for personal reasons, but will still stay with the party for the other contests. But since whether voters turn out to vote is often driven by their feelings towards the presidential candidates, the concern is also that many potential split-ticket voters will simply stay home all together.
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