He means that as a criticism, mind you.

I need to clarify that up front, as supporting Trump’s bid to stage a coup in 2020 is more upside than downside for a candidate in a Republican primary in 2022.

Somehow, within the past two weeks, the GOP Senate race in Pennsylvania became the biggest populist clusterfark in ages. Trump and Hannity are pulling out all the stops to get their candidate, Mehmet Oz, over the finish line, and in Hannity’s case that means extended rants on his nightly show about how Barnette supposedly can’t win a general election.

He’s not being a stickler for internal coherence in those rants either. As you’ll see at the end of this post, last night’s clip attacked Barnette on the one hand for being radically right-wing and on the other for being a closet liberal. She marched beside the Proud Boys on January 6 and seems not to respect Muslims’ freedom of religion, he tsk-tsks at one point, before complaining that she once supported erecting a statue of Obama and opposed Trump in the 2016 primaries. If you’re a centrist Republican, Hannity wants you to know she’s a populist kook. If you’re a populist Republican, be advised that she’s basically a Democrat.

He’s kitchen-sinking it, in other words. After seeing Trafalgar’s new poll this morning, I almost can’t blame him:

It’s unclear, by the way, if marching on January 6 is all Barnette did. Republicans in Pennsylvania may be about to nominate an actual no-kidding insurrectionist:

That’s what Hannity means in the clip when he says she hasn’t been vetted yet. Let’s hope the future Republican senator from the Keystone State doesn’t end up facing a federal indictment related to storming the Capitol this summer.

She should probably explain this tweet too, seeing as how winning in November would require her to represent a state electorate that’s 50 percent Democratic:

Trump and Hannity keep complaining about Barnette’s potential “electability,” a reasonable concern and one that conveniently lets them avoid having to criticize Barnette’s more crankish impulses on the merits. (“I don’t mind that she marched on January 6, I’m just saying that swing voters might mind!”) But what about their guy? How “electable” is Dr. Oz, really? Check the polling and you’ll find that Republicans in Pennsylvania are better disposed to Barnette than they are to him:

A Fox News poll last week also showed lots of Republicans don’t like Oz. It showed nearly half of Republican primary voters — 46 percent — had an unfavorable opinion of him, while 45 percent had a favorable one. The same poll, though, showed Oz again with a statistically insignificant lead. He had 22 percent to McCormick’s 20 percent and Barnette’s 19 percent…

As remarkably, the question about Oz’s favorable rating came after the pollster asked a separate question about the impact of Trump’s endorsement of Oz (voters generally said it was more a positive than a negative). So when asked for their opinion on Oz, voters would have been primed to know that he was the candidate backed by Trump — favorability split: 80-18 — and still the best Oz could manage was 45-46.

It’s very rare for a politician to be more disliked than liked inside their own party, or even to be near an even split.

Amid all the fretting about centrist Republicans turning out this fall for Barnette if she wins tonight, where’s the concern about MAGA Republicans turning out for Oz in the general election? If Trump and Hannity wanted to be hard-asses about electability, they should have settled on the compromise choice, Dave McCormick.

Oz ran into more potential trouble with populists yesterday, and maybe with Trump himself, when he offered this noncommittal answer to a question about whether he thought the 2020 election was rigged:

That’s the answer you’d give as a candidate if you’re running on — ta da — electability. Oz throws a little red meat to Trump fans when he says we can’t leave 2020 behind and makes some suspicious-sounding noises about “election integrity.” But he won’t use the words “rigged” or “stolen” and he’s obviously more comfortable talking about anodyne election rules like requiring voter ID than with conspiracy theories. He’s trying to walk a line between not alienating populists while also not alienating swing voters.

But some MAGA fans won’t want to hear that. They want pure uncut populism, Barnette-style. The kind you might find shoulder to shoulder with the Proud Boys before a riot at the United States Capitol. She fights!

Here’s Hannity bombarding Barnette last night. Watch for about six minutes, until he brings Oz on. Needless to say, all of what he says here implying that Barnette is unfit for office (e.g., past prejudice against Muslims) will fall by the wayside for him tomorrow if she wins the nomination. To Hannity and other MAGA Girondins, there’s no such thing as a truly unfit Republican when the only alternative is a Democrat.

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