Jonathan McConnell

Could Trump, Cruz Victories Cause GOP Problems Down-Ballot?

Attendees cheer for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday as he gives his victory speech after winning the New Hampshire 2016 primary in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call)

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have demonstrated anew to conservatives how to take on — and defeat — the GOP establishment. If they’re not careful, Republicans might soon feel the consequences of their victories beyond the presidential race.  

The unprecedented early success of the Texas senator and billionaire businessman in Iowa and New Hampshire might spark a transformation in a year’s-worth of Republican House and Senate primaries, threatening to transform a sleepy slate of contests into ones that recall the pitched intra-party wars waged during the height of the tea party movement. The hope among conservative insurgents — and concern among the GOP powers-that-be — is Trump and Cruz serve as beacons to like-minded voters, donors and candidates, who can harness the energy and enthusiasm of the White House race into their down-ballot battles against incumbent GOP lawmakers.