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Democrats Look To Tie Trump To Down-Races

AUDIE CORNISH, BYLINE: Well, for that, we're going to hear from our own Jessica Taylor. She's the digital political reporter here at NPR. And, Jessica, you just heard Michael Eggman there talking about Donald Trump and linking him to the incumbent. How common is this approach?

JESSICA TAYLOR, BYLINE: Every time House Democrats has tried to attack Republicans this cycle, they're using Donald Trump in some form or fashion - in web ads, in press releases. Now, they really believe that Trump has expanded the playing field to well over 30 seats, and that's important because that's the number that they need to flip to win back the House. And while I think Trump's nomination makes them cautiously optimistic about this strategy, it's still unpredictable because he is drawing in new supporters, and it's unclear if those new supporters can offset other ones that he's alienated.

And it's important to note, too, that Republicans point out that Hillary Clinton's favorability numbers aren't great either. And they think that she will drag down some Democrats, too. So it's unpredictable on both sides.

CORNISH: Meanwhile, the top Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, really took some time (laughter) to come around to endorsing the presumptive nominee. What about other GOP candidates? How are they handling this?

TAYLOR: Ryan's hesitancy, I think, was what almost every targeted Republican feels, and, you know, he was so reluctant yesterday. And we're seeing that in other top targets that really could lose their job like Senator Kelly Ayotte out of New Hampshire. She's tried to walk such a fine line. She has said she is supporting Trump, but made clear she is not endorsing him. So it's semantics like that that they're twisting their words almost to say that they're not completely backing Trump.

In Arizona, Senator John McCain - he faces an unexpectedly tough re-election largely because Trump has energized a lot of Hispanic voters against Republicans and brought in new voters. So he's endorsed Trump, but he said that - he admitted at a fundraiser that Trump hurts his re-election chances.

One thing to watch, too, is how Trump coordinates with some of these Senate and other down-ballot campaigns. Typically in a presidential year, you will see them working very closely with their national party's nominee. But as we get closer to November, do they want to campaign with him? Is that worth the risk or is it a benefit to them?

And remember, Trump and his campaign - they don't always, you know, play well with others or work well with others. So how does that sort of dynamic play out? And, you know, if Trump does have such a drag on the down ballot, do they completely distance themselves from the nominees as we get closer to Election Day?

CORNISH: So does this kind of district - the 10th in California - become one to watch - right? - does it reflect what will be going on more broadly?

TAYLOR: If Democrats want to have any hope of flipping the House, this is the type of district they absolutely have to win. It's one they've been targeting for years, and it's one that President Obama won twice. It's a classic swing seat. And if they're not going to win this one, then picking up the 30, which is already a long shot, is out of the question.

CORNISH: That's Jessica Taylor, NPR digital political reporter. Jessica, thanks so much.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.