Why Roy Blunt and other Republicans haven’t disavowed Donald Trump

In June, Donald Trump boasted that he could shoot somebody and not lose votes. The outrageous comment was not too far from the truth.

A reporter from The Washington Post shadowed U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in southwest Missouri on the day after the release of the audio of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women. Blunt told the reporter, David Weigel, that he expected Trump to show contrition for his remarks. But he stopped short of saying Trump had lost his vote or should quit the race, describing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as an “unacceptable alternative.”

The piece captured why Blunt and other Republicans running for Congress have not disavowed Trump: They need his supporters to vote for them.

Weigel encountered one woman who said Trump had made the horrible remarks to Billy Bush when he was a Democrat, a Scott Baio-ish talking point. Another voter dismissed polls showing Clinton with the lead, arguing that Trump was drawing crowds of 20,000 and 30,000 people. At a family day at Springfield’s fairgrounds, Blunt greeted a woman who did not think a woman should be president.

There are a lot of people in Missouri who think this way, which is why Trump is likely to win the state’s 10 electoral votes. Blunt is less of a lock. The New York Times analytics shop says the race between Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander is “competitive.” Five Thirty Eight estimates Kander has a 35 percent chance of turning Blunt’s seat from red to blue.

GQ noted last week that Kander, who filmed a campaign ad in which he assembles an AR-15 while blindfolded, may pick up votes from people who are likely to vote for Trump:

In an election year in which Democrats are desperately hoping to take back the U.S. Senate, how ironic would it be if the candidate who puts them over the top is one who relies on some of the same disenchanted voters pulling the lever for the most polarizing Republican presidential candidate in 60 years?