Democrats and their media allies are pinning their 2018 midterm hopes on a perhaps mythical blue wave.  What strikes me about this tactic is that it’s pretty much the same script they wrote for Hillary’s doomed 2016 presidential bid.  Pumping up the “blue wave” volume is intended to suppress Republican voter turnout.

It’s not at all clear that it will have the desired affect.  Indeed, it might well have the opposite effect and motivate the GOP and pro-Trump base to get to the polls to counteract the predicted “wave.”

As long-time readers of LI know, I was personally motivated to vote for Trump because it looked like Hillary might win my state (Florida).  I didn’t shrug and think my vote doesn’t matter; instead, I thought it mattered more than ever before.  Sure, I’m just one person and mine is just one anecdote, but I suspect I’m not alone.

There have been a rash of GOP House retirements, so it’s helpful to look at which House seats are in play and which are not.

The Cook Political Report reports:

Multiple indicators, including generic ballot polls, President Trump’s approval ratings and recent special election results, point to midterm danger for Republicans. But without robust race-by-race polling, it’s trickier to predict individual races six months out. Are Democrats the favorites to pick up the 23 seats they need for a majority? Yes, but it’s still not certain which races will materialize for Democrats and which won’t.

Our latest ratings point to 56 vulnerable GOP-held seats, versus six vulnerable Democratic seats. Of the 56 GOP seats at risk, 15 are open seats created by retirements. Even if Democrats were to pick up two-thirds of those seats, they would still need to hold all their own seats and defeat 13 Republican incumbents to reach the magic number of 218. Today, there are 18 GOP incumbents in our Toss Up column.

Cook provides an interesting set of “risk factors” in an effort to quantify GOP incumbent chances of holding their House seats.

Armed with fresh FEC data, we have created a table listing seven “risk factors” to gauge Republican incumbents’ political health and readiness for a wave election. In the past, those incumbents with a high number of risk factors have typically been the ripest targets, while those with fewer risk factors could still be vulnerable but may be better able to withstand a hostile political environment.

The seven risk factors are:

  • Sits in a district with a Cook PVI score of R+5 or less Republican.
  • Sits in a district that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
  • Received 55 percent of the vote or less in the 2016 election (or a 2017 special election).
  • Voted in favor of the American Health Care Act in the May 4 roll call vote.
  • Voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the December 19 roll call vote.
  • Raised less money than at least one Democratic opponent in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Has a Democratic opponent with at least $200,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

This list of risk factors includes some built-in assumptions.  Impressive campaign war chests are not reliable indicators of success at the ballot box, for example, but this risk factor break down provides an interesting means of assessing the upcoming midterm elections.

Cook continues:

Only one incumbent, Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), has all seven risk factors. Eight incumbents have six risk factors, 23 incumbents have five, 23 incumbents have four and 32 have three. This is not a hard and fast list, and over the next quarter, many incumbents will add or subtract factors based on their own and their opponents’ progress.

If there were ever a midterm on which a party’s president depended, it’s this one.  Trump supporters’ sense that President Trump losing the House will result in at worst his impeachment and at best his becoming a lame duck is a factor that cannot be measured.

I did find it interesting that CNBC is citing the Kos Kids as a viable source of information.

House members are leaving their seats at a rate not seen in at least a dozen years. Yet it remains to be seen how the exodus — particularly on the Republican side — will affect November’s fight for control of the chamber.

The most high-profile departure came earlier this month when House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not seek re-election as he tries to spend more time with his family.

GOP incumbents will not run in 39 districts: 26 in which the member of Congress is retiring and 13 in which the representative is seeking a different office, according to data compiled by Daily Kos Elections. Nineteen Democratic seats will be open due to retirements, campaigns for another office and one death.

The current total of 58 open seats has already topped every election cycle dating back to 2006, according to the Daily Kos data. Tough electoral dynamics for some Republicans and term limits on committee chairmanships have contributed to the high number of departures.

The House is very much up for grabs at the moment, and Cook’s risk factors are worth considering.  What role will they play in November’s midterms?  Will Trump voters turn out for him and help him keep the Democrats seeking his impeachment at bay by ensuring he keeps the House and is in a good position to win reelection in 2020?  Or will they “burn it all down” and handicap Trump for his final two years in office?

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