Last night, Donald Trump showed exactly how badly he and his campaign have melted down. At the Al Smith Dinner in New York City, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton at a venue that was supposed to be relatively civil. He received boos from an audience of his fellow New Yorkers, many of whom were probably Republicans. He got no respect in his hometown.

The race for the presidency is no longer about who will win but about how badly Trump hurts down-ballot Republicans. Barring catastrophe, Hillary Clinton will be the next president but she lacks the popularity to have long coattails. Trump’s performance will have more influence on the rest of the ticket than she does.

North Carolina has competitive races up and down the ballot. The governor’s race is the most watched gubernatorial race in the nation. Deborah Ross’ challenge to Richard Burr has turned into a nail-biter that’s made Ross a superstar among Democratic supporters across the country. The treasurer and attorney general races are both open-seat contests and the lieutenant governor’s race is a rematch in race that was decided by just a handful of votes in 2012. All of these contests could be heavily influence by what happens with Trump.

This week, the state GOP and Richard Burr seemed to start to put some distance between themselves and Trump. When Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the November election, Dallas Woodhouse, executive Director of the NCGOP, put out a statement saying, “We at the North Carolina Republican Party are not aware of election results being optional.” Burr said that he didn’t believe we have any problems with our democracy. Pat McCrory and other Republicans declined to comment.

All cycle, Republicans have made the decision to stick by their nominee even as Republicans elsewhere abandoned him. It may be too late to put any distance between themselves and Trump. Early voting started yesterday and turnout will probably make more difference than any messaging they can do now. The whole NCGOP cast their lots with a self-serving con man with few scruples, arguing that he’s better than Hillary Clinton. Now, they just need to hope that Trump’s conned enough North Carolinians or Clinton has repulsed enough to drag them across the line.


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