Why Tuesday’s elections may be ‘music to Trump’s ears,’ and what it means for November

Two of President Donald Trump’s preferred candidates lost Republican primaries in Tuesday’s elections, but one top analyst said the White House may actually be thrilled with how the night turned out, given the leftward tilt of the Democrats who prevailed in key contests.

One of the night’s biggest shockers came in New York City, where unknown middle school principal Jamaal Bowman held a huge lead over 31-year incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel — one of the most powerful House Democrats. Engel is currently chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Bowman is walking in the footsteps of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed him and easily won her own primary over former CNBC news anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, progressive firebrands who also ran for the Democratic nomination, also backed Bowman in the upset race. 

The embattled president is floundering badly in his reelection efforts, with a New York Times poll released on Wednesday showing Biden with a whopping 14 point advantage. However, Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments, thinks there’s at least one card Trump can play to his advantage.

“I think that Donald Trump should be happy about last night, because he can now claim that the Democrats are veering to the left,” Valliere told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade on Tuesday.

“This is music to his ears,” he added.

Referendum on ‘temperament’

Jamaal Bowman, who is running against Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., speaks to supporters during his primary-night party Tuesday, June. 23, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Those victories could give the president a bigger opening to connect the progressive wing of the party with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“He can now say after looking at Elliot Engel losing that the far left is taking over the party,” Valliere told Yahoo Finance.

It’s an attack line President Trump has been hitting hard for months. In Tulsa last weekend, he called Biden “a helpless puppet of the radical left,” blasting the former Vice President for being “controlled by the radical left.”

Valliere says that will be one of the key messages the embattled president will push into the fall to try to rile up his base as he sees his poll numbers slipping. The NYT Upshot/Siena College poll showed how Biden has consolidated his own base, with protests and the coronavirus pandemic putting Trump on the defensive.

“I think this election is going to boil down to just one issue. And that’s not Joe Biden, who’s adequate,” Valliere said. “The one issue is Donald Trump’s temperament. I think this election is going to be a referendum on Trump.”

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