Donald Trump's recent rallies in Montana and North Dakota could spell doom for two Democrats hoping to retain their Senate seats. That's the opinion of a conservative political scientist and election analyst.
On Thursday, Trump fired up a packed house in Billings, Montana, stumping for Republican state auditor Matt Rosendale, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester in a state won easily by the president in 2016. Trump then headed to heavily Republican North Dakota to campaign for at-large Congressman Kevin Cramer, who is trying to unseat Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.
"Trump made a virtuoso performance in Billings, Montana," says Dr. Charles Dunn, professor emeritus of government at Clemson University. "He hit on all cylinders – and the crowd was especially responsive to his direct attacks on Tester showing that Tester votes one way in Washington and talks another way in Montana.
"Tester should be frightened for his political life," he summarizes. And North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp "will need to run for political cover," Dunn adds.
RealClearPolitics rates both the Montana and North Dakota Senate races as a toss ups.
Eight Republican Senate seats are for election in November, compared with 25 Democratic seats (which includes two independents who caucus with the Democrats). Dunn contends that as many as a half dozen Democrats could lose their seats – and Roll Call includes both Heitkamp (#1) and Tester (#7) among the ten most vulnerable.