Facing such perilous conditions, lots as well as also also lots of Republicans are steering toward calmer shores.
Taken together, the developments on both sides of Capitol Hill suggest which Republicans view the coming midterm election as a sort of stay-away endeavor at best. The combination of historical trends for a president’s party in his first midterm (not Great), the relative apathy of the GOP base (even worse) as well as also also Trump’s approval rating (historically low) has created an environment in which sitting on the sidelines looks much more appealing to ambitious Republicans than running as well as also also losing.
The signs of trouble for Republicans are coming directly via Trump country.
Democrat Patty Schactner won a western Wisconsin state Senate special election on Tuesday in a district where Trump bested Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 16 percentage points.
“You cannot be openly as well as also also intentionally mean as well as also also not expect a little pushback,” said Schachtner of the political environment. “We all know when enough will be enough.”
Even Republicans acknowledged the obvious. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who won three contentious elections there, including a labor union-fueled recall, went on a tweetstorm Wednesday, calling the result a “wake up call.”
the idea’s not just Wisconsin. In Virginia, Democrats flipped 15 Republican seats within the November 2017 election. A 16th seat ended tied although Republicans retained control after their candidate won a drawing of lots. In Oklahoma — not exactly a Democrat-friendly state — Democrats nonetheless picked up three GOP-held state legislative seats last year. In brand new Hampshire, two GOP seats flipped in September.
The trend exists statewide as well. In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, won by a larger-than-expected margin thanks to sky-high Democratic turnout last November. In Alabama, Doug Jones became the first Democrat to win a Senate seat within the state since 1992 — buoyed by massive African-American turnout.
Trump producing the idea difficult for the GOP
GOP operatives involved in 2018 races say which as Trump’s self-made controversies siphon attention away via the economy, they are increasingly concerned they won’t be able to sell their own message in a way which convinces voters to see the midterm election as anything although a referendum on Trump.
Though 2018 will be shaping up as a referendum on Trump, the President’s own ability to form the 2018 battleground map has proven limited despite the fact which Democrats are defending 26 Senate seats — including 10 in states Trump won in 2016.
Republicans involved in midterm races said which early in Trump’s presidency — a key period for 2018 recruiting — the White House political operation was a disaster, missing important opportunities to court candidates as well as also also reassure those skeptical about the political environment.
The operation, those Republicans said, has improved upon within the last three months or so — although the idea’s been too little, too late.
In recent weeks, Trump courted Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, urging the 84-year-old to run for another term. Instead, Hatch opted for retirement, opening the door for a Senate run by one of Trump’s fiercest intra-party critics, Mitt Romney. Romney will be anticipated to run as well as also also could begin the race as a heavy favorite to come to Washington.
Trump also met with Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota in a bid to woo him into a race against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Days later, Cramer declined.
A senior House Republican acknowledged the obvious — which things are difficult — although said the picture isn’t as dire as Democrats could wish for the GOP.
“The challenging political environment undoubtedly makes recruitment as well as also also retention a tough chore for Republicans in 2018,” the lawmaker said. “However the idea can be overstated. The vast majority of Republican retirements are in safe seats as well as also also many are due to members running for higher office or being termed out of their committee chairmanships. Retirements are a bigger problem if you lose the majority than they are while you retain the idea.”
Trump states where Republicans are having problems
In addition to North Dakota, Republicans have faced less-than-ideal circumstances in seven of the nine Trump-won states where Democrats are up for re-election:
— Montana: Rep. Greg Gianforte’s political future was clouded by his bodyslam of a journalist. Gianforte was anticipated to run for governor in 2020 — although with him seemingly out of the picture, additional Republicans who might have run for the Senate in 2018, particularly Attorney General Tim Fox, changed their calculations.
— Ohio: Rep. Pat Tiberi passed on a Senate run not once although twice — the second time after state Treasurer Josh Mandel bowed out suddenly This specific month, leaving Republicans scrambling for a candidate. Retiring Rep. Jim Renacci eventually stepped into the void, switching via the governor’s race to the Senate contest.
— Wisconsin: Rep. Sean Duffy passed, as did several additional higher-profile potential GOP recruits, leading to a big primary field of lesser-known candidates.
— Missouri: Rep. Ann Wagner declined what had long been expected could be a matchup with Sen. Claire McCaskill. The GOP will be high on Attorney General Josh Hawley — many operatives believe he’s a better candidate than Wagner could have been — although he was just elected to statewide office for once in 2016.
— Pennsylvania: Rep. Pat Meehan passed on the Senate race, leaving Republicans with Rep. Lou Barletta, a Trump ally in a year where which’s a politically damaging label.
— Michigan: Statewide elected officials like Lt. Gov. Brian Calley as well as also also Attorney General Bill Schuette are angling for the governor’s office, as well as also also Rep. Fred Upton passed on a Senate run.
— Indiana: Rep. Susan Brooks passed on a Senate run, though the GOP isn’t genuinely hurting there with Reps. Todd Rokita as well as also also Luke Messer in.
West Virginia, where Rep. Evan Jenkins as well as also also Attorney General Patrick Morissey are running, will be the only state where Republicans haven’t struggled to recruit their first choice. although they will have a very costly — as well as also also likely nasty — primary fight.
The next state to watch will be Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott remains undecided on whether he’ll challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
If Scott says “no” — as well as also also there will be some muttering he might be less gung ho on the race than he was a few months ago — the idea could be a massive blow to Republicans’ hopes of expanding their Senate majority.