The midterm election cycle started pretty much the moment Donald Trump was sworn in, and with several seats on the line in the Senate, and the Republicans barely holding on to a majority with 52 seats, there is a worry that their majority could be in trouble.
Worse, the House has several races that could flip seats, which may end up giving the House over to the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi control over the chamber once more.
A lot of folks worry that President Donald Trump will play a role in victory or defeat in 2018, but the truth is the Senate is not in danger because of him. Republicans might even come out ahead. It’s the House that may be in danger.
With Jeff Flake and Bob Corker announcing they are retiring, Mitch McConnell has to be getting nervous. It’s not so much that the Democrats could flip the Senate – there are still a good many Red State Democrats up for re-election – but the fact that he could be getting more caucus members who are Trump Republicans, rather than the more moderate choices he’d like to see.
The defeat of Luther Strange in Alabama was one such loss, and in Flake’s state of Arizona, a Kelli Ward victory in the Republican primary in 2018 could really cause problems.
Right now, Flake’s seat is ranked as a toss-up: It could get either Democrat or Republican. I think we’re going to see in the coming weeks that it shifts to Leans Republican in several polls. It’s not that Trump or Bannon scared Flake off, you see. It’s that he was not scoring enough conservative points back home. With Flake out, Republican voters will likely feel more confident in whoever his “heir apparent” might be.
Meanwhile, you have Claire McCaskill (Missouri) and Joe Donnelly (Indiana) who are Democrats in states that went +9 Republican in 2016. Those two seats are listed as toss-ups. Heidi Heitkamp’s state, North Dakota, is listed as +17 Republican, though right now most reporting has her seat as “Leans Democrat.” If I were a betting man, I would bet that starts to change in the beginning of 2018.
Joe Manchin of West Virginia rounds out the at-risk Democrats, running for re-election in a state that is +19 Republican and a race that is, at best, leaning Democrat.
The only real threat I see to the Republicans is Nevada’s Dean Heller, who is in a state that is +1 Democrat and a race listed as a toss-up.
It is not impossible to imagine Republicans gaining in the Senate, because the cycle of re-elections just happens to be unfavorable for them right now. However, you can’t say the same for the House, and Trump’s public actions may play a part in Republican downfall in that chamber.
Republicans could be seeing a serious issue in 2018 in the House, but there is good news there: If the Democrats take the House, they will almost certainly 1) elect Nancy Pelosi speaker and 2) overreach in trying to oppose Trump using the current Democratic standard of screeching super loudly about things that are silly and/or stupid.
The House will try to pass literally every progressive measure they can think of, and they will all fail and they’ll run ads and fundraise off those failures (we know this because the Republicans did it during the Obama Administration to great effect). However, their progressive measures will include things that don’t really poll well, but they think they’re on the right side of cultural issues and push for them anyway.
All of this is good news because we’ll only have to suffer it for two years, because Democrats being Really Democrat for two years in opposition and defiance to Trump will lead to Trump’s re-election, and possibly several seat grabs by Republicans.
For the Republican Party’s sake, if that is something you care about in any way, you probably should wish that Trump is somehow better managed between now at 2018, because his rhetoric is probably the only thing left that could really hurt Republicans, and he gives the media and the Democrats plenty of ammo to hurt Republicans with.