Tuesday’s primaries tell us that strongly criticizing Trump in the Democratic primaries do no good. And for Republicans, it’s fatal.
Most notable was the loss of incumbent Republican representative Mark Sanford in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Sanford, a strong critic of Trump, lost his primary seat to state representative Katie Arrington, who vowed to bring Trump’s policies to the House.
Three hours before the South Carolina polls closed, Trump endorsed Arrington and strongly denounced Sanford. Sanford lost by some 3,000 votes, about 3.5 percent.
“We are the party of Donald J. Trump,” Arrington said after claiming victory. During the campaign trail, she said Sanford should not be returned to Washington because he was “bashing our captain, President Trump.”
Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, army veteran Dan Helmer lost to State Sen. Jennifer Wexton. Helmer ran a controversial campaign ad comparing Trump to Osama Bin Laden and vowed to impeach Trump in attempts to stand out from the other Democratic candidates. His tactics failed.
What are the lessons from this primary election? Voters want to know what candidates stand for, not what they are against. They want to know which policies they want to implement, not which ones they reject.
Attacking Trump as a Republican is a bad call. Breaking away from the party’s leader shows voters the candidate is unpredictable.
And a message for Democrats: being anti-Trump is not a platform. It’s easy to disagree with someone’s ideas, but unless you can bring a better idea of your own to the table, your criticism is worthless to voters.
Hopefully candidates take these results to heart and implement the lessons learned into the general election come November.