Monday, January 15, 2018

Republicans Fear Democrats Could Win Big in 2018

Back when I was a GOP activist years ago, the theme was that the purpose of the Party was to win elections and grow the base of support for the Party and its candidates.  Now, it increasingly appears that the only concern is to appease the most toxic and vile elements of the GOP base and to lie to everyone else about the foul nature of the base and the party agenda.  There seems to be little thought about building a long term sustainable base, hence the almost deliberate effort to alienate Millennials and as the pandering to aging Christian extremists and white supremacists continues to ramp up.  Now, some Republicans seem to be waking up to the reality that 2018 may be the year that the Republican Party and its short sighted leadership  reap the harvest of their misogyny.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing fear - which I must admit I savor since it is so deserved - that is taking hold among Republicans.  Here are highlights:
A raft of retirements, difficulty recruiting candidates and President Trump’s continuing pattern of throwing his party off message have prompted new alarm among Republicans that they could be facing a Democratic electoral wave in November.
The concern has grown so acute that Trump received what one congressional aide described as a “sobering” slide presentation about the difficult midterm landscape at Camp David last weekend, leading the president to pledge a robust schedule of fundraising and campaign travel in the coming months, White House officials said.
But the trends have continued, and perhaps worsened, since that briefing, with two more prominent Republican House members announcing plans to retire from vulnerable seats and a would-be recruit begging off a Senate challenge to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota despite pressure from Trump to run.
And by the end of the week, many Republicans were scrambling to distance themselves from the president after he spoke of “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting . . . . Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), a rising star in the party who faces a strong Democratic challenge this year, quickly denounced Trump for apparently denigrating Haiti, the birthplace of both her parents. . . .
In the Camp David presentation, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) described scenarios to the president ranging from a bloodbath where Republicans lost the House “and lost it big,” in the words of one official, to an outcome in which they keep control while losing some seats.
Republicans hold the advantage of a historically favorable electoral map . . . . But other indicators are clearly flashing GOP warning signs. Democrats have benefited from significant recruitment advantages — there are at least a half dozen former Army Rangers and Navy SEALs running as Democrats this year, for example — as Republicans struggle to convince incumbents to run for reelection.
At least 29 House seats held by Republicans will be open in November . . . . The president’s own job approval, a traditional harbinger of his party’s midterm performance, is at record lows as he approaches a year in office, according to Gallup. Polls asking which party Americans want to see control Congress in 2019 show a double-digit advantage for Democrats.
“When the wave comes, it’s always underestimated in the polls,” said a conservative political strategist who has met with GOP candidates. “That is the reason that Republicans are ducking for cover.”
“The monthly metrics are bad, from the generic ballot to the Republican retirements to the number of Democratic recruits with money,” said one Republican political consultant . . .  the major metrics point to us losing at least one house of Congress.”
Republicans have struggled to narrow their Senate fields, with big and sometimes-nasty primary fights shaping up in Indiana, Montana and Arizona. The recent announcement that former Phoenix-area sheriff Joe Arpaio would run for the Senate has raised some Republican concerns about holding onto the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.).
Trump continually reminds advisers that he remains popular in a number of states, including West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota, according to aides. But slow fundraising and anemic candidate recruitment have caused tensions between the White House and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, White House advisers said.
White House officials said they expect a full plunge in upcoming weeks into a special House race in Pennsylvania, with trips from Trump, Vice President Pence and Cabinet members. The race has taken on a larger-than-life role in the White House because officials want to stem the tide of the losses they suffered last year in Virginia and Alabama.
And they have begun exploring ways to inject “wedge issues” that could trouble Democrats in more conservative states. Those could include immigration votes, requirements for welfare, sanctuary-city reform and revisions to the guest-worker program.
Despite all that, political handicappers have gradually increased the odds that Democrats will retake the House, where they need to pick up 24 seats to do so. Democrats must net two seats to take control of the Senate, a harder task
Republican strategists said they want to spend the next eight months talking about the economy. . . . But maintaining that message can be a challenge, as the president showed this week when his vulgar comments about some developing countries sparked international outrage.

Ed Gillespie tried using "wedge issues" in the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race (as did his GOP ticket mates) and it did not end well.  Indeed, it likely increased the Democrat turn out among minorities and Millennials.  Let's hope that effort fails again. 

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