Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Republicans have passed a major piece of legislation. It is going to probably be hailed as Donald Trump’s signature legislation, but the credit (or the blame?) should go to Paul Ryan, who has made tax reform his pet project since he first got elected to the House.

It is, without a doubt, the biggest thing the Republican Party has gotten accomplished to date, and it is something they will tout as it begins to go into effect. The question, however, remains: Can the Republicans survive 2018?

Could it be salvaged, even?

A lot of supporters of the President would very much like you to believe that Donald Trump is going to carry his party to victory again in 2018. It is on his coattails that the GOP will stay in power. His accomplishments are legendary, and therefore there’s no way the Republicans can’t win. America will continue to be Made Great Again.

However, history would disagree with the assessment.

Historically, the Party In Power loses – many times bigly – in off-year elections. When there is no party leader (read: President) on the ballot, the party’s opposition makes impressive gains in the midterms. The polling right now for Trump and the GOP is unimpressive at best, and catastrophic at worst. Most people end up thinking that this midterm could be one of the bloodiest yet.

The GOP has some options for mitigating the damage. They can go on a full-blown press rush back home (the national media won’t be too kind to them) and hope some friendly coverage makes it into constituent homes. It’s all about perception when voters get to the polling booth, and enough negatives can make or break an election cycle.

They could run against the President. It’s happened before, and the GOP was able to offset some losses by running against, for example, George H.W. Bush.

The GOP could also go on a legislative blitz and get a lot of the party platform on the table and hope that either the voters are happy enough that they keep them in power or that the Democrats are not so successful that they can scuttle everything.

But, the press is going to scrutinize everything they say or do. Donald Trump will not take too kindly to being opposed by his own party. The GOP is barely united in the Senate and House leadership could find itself under siege by the Freedom Caucus. There are too many variables.

The GOP has to play smart if it wants to survive 2018. There is no clear path to salvaging it. Yet. It’s possible, but the stars have to align and the Democrats have to out-Democrat themselves even more than they have been of late.

The good news is that, with certain Democrats in charge, it’s virtually guaranteed that if they take over the House or Senate, they’ll rush to claim a mandate that doesn’t exist and take the hard left, forcing voters back to Trump.

I don’t know what kind of future the GOP has, but it at least looks like they have one.