- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2016

Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, said Friday that down-ballot and congressional-level races aren’t going to be affected much by what goes on at the presidential level.

“I think one of the things that, as I look at the numbers, I don’t think Hillary Clinton has much in the way of coattails,” Mr. Cole said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’ve never seen anybody that had a 37/53 fav/unfav pull other people into office.

“So, I think the presidential race is going on between two candidates,” he said. “I think what happens down ballot, particularly at the granular level of congressional districts, is likely to be determined by what individual members do, not likely to be affected too much by what goes on at the presidential level.”

That’s similar to what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is trying to protect an effective 54-46 GOP majority, has said in recent months about key Senate races.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, though, has said it can be difficult to win key Senate races if the top of the ticket isn’t doing well, and so it’s a team effort up and down the ballot.

House races are a bit different than statewide races, though, since the partisan makeup of any given congressional district can vary widely from the partisan lean of the overall state.

GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who is running for re-election in a swing district in Colorado, released an ad this week in which he says he doesn’t care much for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump but that he doesn’t trust Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Cole said it’s too early to say whether it would be better off for Republicans running for re-election to start distancing themselves from Mr. Trump.

“I think the right thing to do always for any candidate is just run your race within your district,” he said.

“In terms of what we do at the top of the ticket … as I said, I think that’s a thing in and of itself,” he said. “I don’t think it’s likely to have the down ballot implications that people think, for good or ill.”

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