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With Prospects Fading, Here’s How Republicans Hold the House in 2018

With Prospects Fading, Here’s How Republicans Hold the House in 2018

Democrats aren’t winning as much as Republicans are losing. Can the GOP turn it around?

In one short year, the Republican majority in the U. S. House of Representatives has shifted from seemingly safe to somewhat in jeopardy.  The Democrats have an uphill battle in the Senate, defending 25 seats to the GOP’s nine, but a number of circumstances and Tuesday’s election results have improved Democrats’ chances of retaking the House in 2018.

It doesn’t appear that Democrats are gaining because of anything they’ve accomplished; instead, Republicans appear to be losing ground because they have failed to accomplish key goals on which they campaigned throughout the Obama presidency.  From repealing ObamaCare to building the wall to tax and legal immigration reform, Congressional Republicans are disappointing the base who elected them to office on the strength of their promises, promises it has become increasingly clear too many had no intention of fulfilling.

Other factors, such as President Trump’s low approval and a number of Republican lawmakers opting not to seek reelection, also play a role, but the bottom line is that midterms are dependent on turnout and often hinge on which party’s voters are most motivated to get out and vote in an off year.

This is not to say that all is lost or that Republicans can’t turn it around, but time’s a’ticking, and they need to score some key wins to avoid a bloodbath next November.

Just how important to 2018 was the Virginia election?

Not very. And also very.  Democrats lost key special elections in Georgia, Wyoming, and Kansas this year.  They spun the losses as “wins,” but they were worried.  Their concerns were alleviated in Virginia last Tuesday when, among other key wins, Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie by a jaw-dropping nine points, and they seem more ready than ever to leap on their anti-Trump message and attempt to ride it to a 2018 House majority.

Democrats sunk a huge sum into the Georgia special election in particular, and they still lost.  Having done surprisingly well in Virginia, Democrats are now reading their wins as vindication of their earlier special election campaigns and losses.  Resisting Trump, they insist, is the winning strategy.  The problem, however, is that Virginia is not a reliable model for all of the House seats Democrats need to keep and those they need to flip next year.

The Washington Examiner reports:

No question, Democrats took Republicans to the woodshed on Tuesday night in Virginia. They won all three statewide offices and nearly captured the Virginia House of Delegates.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate, captured more votes than any Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia history. But Ralph Northam, his Democratic opponent, captured more than any gubernatorial candidate in state history.

Republicans are right to be nervous about what happened in the Old Dominion on Tuesday, but Democrats would be wise not to overinterpret.

Yes, a shellacking a year out from the 2018 midterms is not good for Republicans, and yes, that it happened because of a large turnout of enthusiastic voters for the other party is doubly bad.

But Virginia has been trending blue for 20 years. Republicans there are just 1-10 in major statewide races since 2005. Hillary Clinton carried it over President Trump. President Barack Obama carried it twice. Both senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, are Democrats.

Fueled by the growth of the federal government, Northern Virginia has both veered left and become the dominant region in terms of influence within the state as other regions, such as coal country in southwestern Virginia and the Tidewater area, have struggled.

Also, for the first time, 156,000 ex-felons, who had their voting rights unilaterally restored under Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, were eligible to vote in the statewide election.

Republicans might pick off an election occasionally in the Commonwealth, but statewide races are out of reach unless Northern Virginia somehow gets annexed to the District of Columbia.

Democrats are thrilled, giddy even, by their surprise wins in Virginia.

Lifezette reports:

Democrats are so eager for an anti-Republican wave election next year that Chuck Schumer can smell it.

Tuesday’s Democratic gains in Virginia and New Jersey elections have buoyed the Senate minority leader and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). They told reporters this week they are having flashbacks to 2005, the year before the last time Democrats enjoyed large gains in congressional elections.

The party knocked Republicans out of the majority in both houses of Congress in 2006, picking up 31 House seats and six in the Senate.

“The results last night smell exactly the same way,” Schumer said Wednesday. “Our Republican friends better look out.”

Added Pelosi: “The door is certainly open to us. We get the fresh recruits, and they get the retirements.”

Citing the energy and enthusiasm that drives voters to polls in off years, Representative Donald McEachin (D-VA) not unreasonably predicts the House will flip in 2018.

Lifezette continues:

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) made a bold prediction on CNN after the election.

“I still say that when 2019 comes, the Democrats will be in charge of the House of Representatives. The same thing is happening … The energy is there,” he said. “The pent-up frustration with the Trump administration is there. All the same ingredients we saw play out in Virginia, from having good candidates, from fielding good candidates across the board in all sorts of different districts, will play out in 2018.”

Opposition to a popular Democrat president led to massive GOP gains in both the 2010 and 2014 midterms, so it’s not unreasonable to imagine that the same can happen for Democrats in 2018 with a far less popular Republican president.

The impact of House Republican retirements

There have been more than a few House Republican retirements already announced, and more are likely to come before the 2018 midterm.  This can put Republicans at a disadvantage because, generally speaking, even not incredibly popular incumbents are strong favorites.

The Hill reports:

A retirement wave has hit House Republicans, emboldening Democrats who have become increasingly bullish about their prospects of winning back a majority in 2018.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Thursday became the latest Republican to announce he would not seek another term.

The 13-term Virginian followed Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), both of whom announced Tuesday — hours before Republicans suffered sweeping losses at the polls — that they’d retire from Congress.

All told, 29 Republicans will not seek reelection to their House seats, compared to only 11 for Democrats. Fifteen Republicans are retiring outright, rather than seeking other political offices or positions. Only two Democrats are doing the same.

This is not an insignificant development, but on its own, it doesn’t spell “doom,” either.

The Hill continues:

Not all of the retiring Republicans are exiting districts that are likely to be in play.

Goodlatte’s district, for example, is reliably Republican and was won by President Trump in 2016 by 25 points.

In the 15 districts where members are retiring outright, Trump won six of them by 18 points or more.

Yet the retirements are expanding the map for Democrats.

How important will Trump’s popularity be in 2018?

While House Republican retirements don’t, on their own, signal alarm, other factors such as the president’s less than desirable popularity numbers tip the scales in the Democrats’ favor.

Trump is not losing significant support among his base; however, he is losing Independents, and that’s worrying.

In August of this year, Real Clear Politics noted the decline in the president’s approval numbers amongst Independents.

Many surveys focus on Trump’s strength among his base, as well as on Republican support for him and Democratic opposition to him. In this analysis, we focus on Independents’ reactions to Trump over the first six months of his presidency. Taking two surveys per month from public YouGov polling, we examine partisan and Independent approval of the president, in addition to their opinions on his handling of the economy and foreign policy. . . .

. . . . The results show little variation among partisans, with the possible exception of Republicans who are slightly less supportive than they were at the beginning of Trump’s administration. Nevertheless, net approval for the president among Republicans remains at +60 percent.

Democrats started out anti-Trump and, over the entire time series, have at least a net -60 point approval number. This dislike is unsurprising, given the country’s entrenched polarization: Republicans were similarly down on Barack Obama in the first six months of his presidency, also approving by -60 percent. In any event, members of both parties have been remarkably stable in their assessment of Trump: Democrats against, Republicans for.

Independents, on the other hand, have moved from a net positive number in January to a steadily increasing net negative approval rating. In June, the gap against Trump was in double digits and by early August it was over 20 points: 30 percent approve and 51 percent disapprove in the latest YouGov poll. It is not surprising that a polarizing figure like Trump draws the ire of Democrats and the support of his party; his present problem is that he has lost support among the Independents who ultimately gave him the presidency.

Even in “Trump country,” the numbers among Indies are moving in the wrong direction if the President is to convince his (shrinking number of) voters that keeping the House is of sufficient import to him and his agenda to get them off the couch and to the polls.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Nearly one year after Donald Trump’s upset election victory, support for the president is eroding in counties that were most responsible for his election, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. But Democrats have not yet managed to turn Mr. Trump’s weakness in those precincts into gains for their party. (See the full results.)

People in these so-called “Trump counties” remain far more likely than the rest of the nation to approve of the president’s job performance and handling of the economy. But disapproval of his performance in these loyalist precincts has inched up to the 50% mark, surpassing the 48% who approve.

As Mr. Trump tries to generate momentum to pass a big tax bill, there is no groundswell of support in these Trump counties. Almost half of adults in these counties, including 40% of Republicans, have no opinion about the GOP tax plan.

Impact of Congressional Republicans’ war on Trump

Keeping the House is important to President Trump and to his popular agenda.  It’s worth noting that Trump’s agenda is far more popular than he.  Remember his first 100 days contract with the American voter?  His voters still want all of that fulfilled, and without a majority in the House, Trump becomes not only a candidate for impeachment by a Democrat House but a lame duck who will never be able to accomplish even his 100-day goals.

Trump will never win over die-hard lefties, but he is already losing Indies and many of his less-devoted voters are becoming impatient.  Perhaps that impatience is related more to Congress than to the president himself, but impatient, disillusioned, and mad as hell Republican voters are not going to be as motivated to vote for House Republicans they see as part of the problem.

The Washington Post reports:

The Virginia gubernatorial campaign illustrated the Republican dilemma as it morphs into becoming the party of President Trump. For Ed Gillespie, the attempt at a balancing act proved awkward and ultimately unsuccessful. A candidate with deep roots in the establishment wing of the party, he tried, after receiving a scare in the primary from a pro-Trump opponent, to become more Trumpian.

. . . .  Now the [Republican] party is at an inflection point, brought about by the president’s electoral success and the reactions of both [sic] Democrats, Republicans and independents to what has happened in the year since that victory. Can they prosper if they truly become the party of Trump? Or are they more likely to suffer losses in midterm elections because, whether they do or not, they are now seen as the party of Trump?

Congressional Republicans hope that passing a tax bill will ease public frustrations with their performance and boost their chances in 2018. . . .

The fact that Republican leadership believes or even hopes that passing a modest tax bill will improve their 2018 electoral chances is wrong on so many levels.

Congressional Republicans have made the past year an embarrassment, and they are a laughingstock on both sides of the aisle. Among other notable failures, Republican failure to produce an ObamaCare repeal bill or even an inchoate plan after seven years of empty promises was eye-opening for many Republican voters who had cast votes specifically in response to these promises.

That the GOP so clearly thinks of appeasing Republican voters with relatively small gestures shows that they have learned nothing at all from Trump’s victory (or even from the ousting of both Eric Cantor and John Boehner).

Here’s how Republicans hold the House in 2018

Democrats are not the Republican problem in 2018.  Republicans have shown over the past nine years that they know what the majority of Americans want because they have enjoyed historic gains at the federal, state, and local levels by paying lip service to the people’s will.  What they don’t quite seem to grasp is that, having won so many seats, they need to deliver to keep the power they’ve been loaned by the American people.

During his campaign, President Trump asked black Americans for their vote by asking what they had to lose by voting for him after decades of Democrat policy failure.  Congressional Republicans are in no danger from Democrats who will never vote for them over an actual Democrat and are only marginally threatened by Independents (though, as noted above, this threat has increased as they lose center-right Indies); they are, however, in great danger from Republican voters who are disgusted by their dismissal of the great honor they’ve been granted to lead this nation out of the Obama abyss.

Congress’ approval numbers are abysmal, the GOP’s numbers are abysmal.  Unless they ask themselves what they have to lose by supporting and enacting President Trump’s agenda, House Republicans, on their current trajectory, will be swept from power in a massive Democrat wave in 2018.

If they can figure that out by (say) late spring or early next summer, they may be able to hold onto their majorities.  Personally, having watched the Congressional Republican kabuki smoke and mirror theater, I’m not optimistic.


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Um….. the Dems are defending 25 SENATE seats.

“…Impact of Congressional Republicans’ war on Trump…”3

That’s all we really needed to read. These “republicans” are their own party. They are nothing to us, and they have ZERO base. The “republicans” are merely democrats with an “R” next to their names.

Until we all see it that way, when we vote for a rat of the GOPe, we are voting for the democrat swamp.

Destroy the GOPe before they destroy our one hope of rescuing our nation from the nasty swamp that the GOPe has happily allowed to spread throughout D.C.

“Republican voters who are disgusted by their dismissal of the great honor they’ve been granted to lead this nation out of the Obama abyss.”
Two such voters live in our house. We are not even sure that many of those Republican congress people have much against what Obama did to our country.

DieJustAsHappy | November 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm

So, why are the Republican in the House in this predicament? In part, visual clue is of the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate.

    snopercod in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | November 12, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Why are they in this predicament: One reason: Poor leadership.

      Ragspierre in reply to snopercod. | November 12, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      I kinda have to agree with that. But the poor leadership has come from the head of the party. He’s been very passive as to legislation, and has sent VERY mixed signals.

      ObamaCare Lite…great, sure, I’ll sign it, and I’ll send in Bannon to twist arms. (Don’t even protest that he didn’t, because there’s a record.)

      On the Crap, Crap, Crap Tax Act, you know he’ll sign anything that comes to his desk and call it a “big, beautiful, historic WIN! BIGGIST tax cut EVAH!”

      Where the Congress has failed, it failed basically over two or three votes.

      Oh, and remember…but for McConnell (who I loath) there would be no Gorsuch or any other good judges, AND there would have been Barracula appointees.

      So keep it real, huh…

GOP leadership have yet to realize that they’ve wandered into a box canyon. I’ll spell it out for them.

Untrustworthy republicans are more than just a messaging and perception problem here in the hinterlands west of DC. Your Little Bighorn looms large.

Get smart, and fast.

    brightlights in reply to Tiki. | November 12, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    I think some of the leadership privately want to lose majority because when you’re in opposition you don’t really have to do anything like governing. The problem is they are expecting 30-40 seats so they will be in a strong minority. They’re going to lose a LOT more.

They have lied to their electorates for 12 years. When finally the people rose up and gave them everything they asked for, they went mccain on the electorate. They would rather do what their pay masters wanted than vote for what they ran on. They went home and found the jig was up.

It should be noted that Trump’s approval is the same as when they said it was impossible for him to get elected and it was also imposible for him to keep from losing the House and Senate and yet it didn’t happen in 2018. The idea that the Congress and not Trump has disappointed is what ever pundit is ignoring. I don’t see people chnaging thier vote from the change they wanted but didn’t fully get to the party that guareentees it will keep Obamacare. Obamacare was the number one issue for voters in Virginia and that wasn’t on the positve end I am sure.

People are making the same mistakes that they made in the 2016 campaign. At the moment, you simply can not apply traditional political truisms to the current election cycles. Trump was not elected because he was Trump. He was elected because he was the most anti-Establishment outsider in the race. Very few people voted for Trump the man. So, Trump’s popularity as President, especially given the unprecedented negative media campaign against him, has little or no effect on either Trump’s Presidency or on down ticket races.

Trump is safe for the next 3+ years. After that he may, or may not, run for a second term, depending upon how well his agenda goes. On top of that, Trump has delivered on almost all of the promises that he made, which he can deliver unilaterally. Anything which he has not delivered is obviously the fault of the Republicans in Congress.

Now, if the Republican Congress Critters were actually concerned about getting their constituencies to vote them back into office in 2018, then you would think that they would be pandering to that electorate. Instead, they are acting like Democrats. They are pandering to what is traditionally a Democrat, big government, welfare recipient base. The two things that are wrong with that are 1) the Democrats will vote for Democrats, rather than Republicans dressed up as Democrats and 2) the anti-Establishment voters will pick any anti-establishment candidate over a Republican Establishment candidate. That could turn every single sitting Congress Critter into Luther Strange. Or worse, the anti-Establishment voters will simply stay home and Democrats will sweep the field.

Allow me, dear Fuzzy, (and you too, oh wise-man Rags) to voice my humble opinion:

I think the prediction of demise of the Republican maj-
ority in the House is greatly exaggerated, and, while the factors you cite are real enough, I don’t think they justify the pessimistic conclusions :
Trumps popularity is likely much higher. Remember all the polls that had the Hildebeast winning by a landslde?

Come next year’s election, his voice will carry a lot of weight. Especially if he comes through with even more of
the election promises.

The electorate is much more informed now, as to the causes of foot-dragging and as to who spews all this hot air, right Rags?

So there is bound to be elected a whole new crop of Trump-
supporters in the House.

I the meantime, the Leftie-media, along with their cohorts,the Dims, will continue to dig,
ever deeper, in that hole that they hoped Trump might stumble in, and they’ll have great difficulty extricating themselves from that Russia-Phantasy. (aint’ that so, Mr.
Podesta?) Add to that all the other potential mega-scandals,that might very well result in serious charges all the way to the top of the previous administration, and you gotta paint a big question mark on that prediction of Dim-success.

This is not a prediction,just a weighing of possibilities.

    Agreed, I’m not seeing any evidence yet of the Imminent Collapse of our Majorities anywhere, just some idle speculation and some wishful thinking on the part of the media. Some governor beating an uninspiring establishment candidate in a deep-blue state that threw in for Hillary in 2016 doesn’t make a wave.

Dear Fuzzy,

Remember when you fervently believed Trump was not only going to lose, he was going to cost the R party the senate/house?

I do.

    Yes, I most certainly do remember, Barry! I disliked and distrusted Trump in the extreme, and I still do . . . but he was still better than Hillary, and no way was I going to have a thing to do with her win (I live in Florida, it was close on election day). For what it’s worth, he’s STILL better than Hillary. Miles and miles better.

    As to your comment, hey, I just use critical thinking and guesswork and base my ideas in history like anyone else, if you think I’m full of it, don’t read my posts. Easy-peasy.

    There is no one here who doesn’t know what I thought of Trump and how adamant I was against him. I was #NeverTrump before #NeverTrump became a thing (see my personal blog and Trump posts from pre-2012). Since then, Trump has done things of which I heartily approve, things I do not approve, and things that make no sense. And I STILL think he’s miles better than Hillary would have been, and I am proud to support and defend Trump when I feel it’s warranted.

    There’s no shame in correcting course, but your silly little “reminders” are . . . well, kind of shameful.

This is why conservatives need to get organised for 2018 to run as many pro-Trump people as possible! Get them in to the Senate to negate the damage people like McCain are doing and once they are in there get Trumps agenda passed!

Its now very clear that the only party the GOPe is worried about is the GOPe! These idiots cannot get through their thick skulls that Trump is THEIR President and they should be doing everything possible to support him.

Instead al we see from the GOPe is them worrying about the GOPe and doing everything possible not to support President Trump! Its time to put these clowns out to pasture next year.

The routing must occur in the Primary. Run these republican elites out on a rail. However, failing that, we must retain a republican hold on the house and senate out of the General election. These RINO republicans, who are much more liberal than conservative at their core, are sadly important if they survive their primary if for no other reason than they help hold Congress back from a democrat majority.

Primary the heck out of them, but we must come together against the democrats in the General election. As a conservative Independent, I am loathe to vote for a RINO and will ONLY do so AFTER the Primary. But vote against the democrat in the General election I will.

buckeyeminuteman | November 13, 2017 at 6:43 am

1. Stop with all the doom and gloom.

2. Many on the right have centered their entire careers on being the underdog who needs to get elected to make a change. Then when the get elected they work hard on trying to go back to the minority so they can fundraise and be against something or someone again.

3. Trump isn’t going anywhere. If the GOP lose the House or Senate it’s nobody’s fault but their own.

4. And if one side of the uniparty who isn’t working on their campaign promises looses, are we really that bad off?

    I think you would be worse off. A RINO held house IS far better than a Democrat held house. Potentially a RINO Congress/Senate is a far less dangerous thing than a Democrat lead Congress/Senate..even with RINO’s in place.

These people telling us that president Trump enjoys “low approval” happen to be the same people that were trying to tell me that Hillary had a 95% chance of winning the election, no?

Well, since the GOP has weaponized the party, only supporting those who have provided to the party and came up through ranks.. and ostrasizing all outsiders…
I have to agree they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Their concern is the Party. Not winning, not representing the people, none of that.
No, it’s power, money, offices, cars… everything BUT what it should be.

This was painfully obvious during the Trump Campaign.

Trump actually had to go recruit Reince to vanquish the internal opposition, and then it took months for him the be rid of him.

( Gee, I noticed the leaks dried right up after that… )

So, the GOP Feifdom is far more worried about their little organization than anything else.

That is where they are blowing it, and I can’t see where thay have made a single effort to change it.

Be that as it may, it isn’t as bad as it seems.

As bad as the GOP is …

They are Pikers compared to the Democrats.

If you want to see a World-Class mess, look at what the DNC has been doing to them.

From running Bernie the puppet as a sure-fire loser against Hillary… ( And dang…it back-fired and he was gonna win )

Then they had to stop him.

…To turning on every single old-world, working-class, God Fearing Democrat and openly trying to destroy everything good and decent in the Country…

And using any and all means to do it.

Now, there is a party with a REAL problem.