Sep 12 2018

It Could Happen

Not that I think it likely mind you, but a rosy best case scenario for Democrats in November includes a 60 vote swing in the House and a Senate majority.

The things that are new today are a decline in Trump’s already dismal Poll numbers and new State by State Polling that indicates as many as 8 or 10 Senators, overwhelmingly Republican, are nursing single digit leads within the net disapproval umbra (to say nothing of the margin of error).

‘Shipwreck’: GOP grows fearful about losing Senate as candidates struggle, Trump support tumbles
By Sean Sullivan, Washington Post
September 11, 2018

Republicans could still emerge with an increase in their numbers if GOP candidates eventually prevail in many of these close races, with Democrats seriously concerned about Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott is running about even against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

The dire warnings also could serve as a wake-up call to GOP donors for the final eight weeks of the campaign.

But for the GOP, simply retaining its majority — which was whittled by a seat after a stunning upset in the Alabama special election last year — has looked like a more challenging goal by the day, as controversy swirls around Trump, the public loses confidence in the president and GOP candidates are slow to gain traction.

A Washington Post-ABC News national poll conducted in late August found just 38 percent of voters approved of the job that Trump was doing, compared with 60 percent who disapproved. His approval rating in April was 44 percent.

These difficulties have come into sharp focus in Texas, where Cruz is fighting for political survival against O’Rourke, a rising liberal star who is raising record-setting sums of cash and attracting large crowds across a ruby-red state. At the end of June, O’Rourke had close to $14 million cash on hand to Cruz’s $9 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

The sudden cooperation underscores how much the GOP fears losing Texas. The shock waves are being felt well beyond the state, as its several expensive media markets could force the party to spend money there that it will have to subtract from GOP hopefuls in other battlegrounds.

“Other campaigns are going to be shorted due to the lackluster nature of the campaign,” said one White House official, speaking of the Cruz operation.

McConnell recently assured Cruz in a private conversation that resources would be there for him, according to people familiar with the talk. Trump is planning to campaign for Cruz in Texas next month.

While it seems to be all about Ted Cruz, Republicans are in trouble in Arizona and Nevada too while in the most vulnerable Democratic State, Indiana, the Democrat has finally gained a narrow lead.

60 GOP House seats in danger

Roughly 100 of the 240 Republican-controlled House seats are currently within Democratic reach, posing the most serious threat to the GOP majority since the party won control in 2010.

Despite the GOP’s built-in advantages due to incumbency and redistricting, 60 of those seats are even more precariously positioned, with the Republican nominee either holding just a slight competitive edge, dead even against their Democratic opponent or trailing.

The election cycle began with Republicans holding key structural assets in the battle for House control. But over the course of the past year-and-a-half, those advantages have gradually eroded.

Republicans started with a number of entrenched incumbents in seats that swung against the GOP in last year’s presidential election. The problem? Many of them — like Ed Royce and Darrell Issa in Southern California, Rodney Frelinghuysen in New Jersey, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in South Florida and Dave Reichert in Washington state — chose to retire rather than run for reelection. Since incumbent members typically have more campaign cash in the bank and run stronger than candidates in open seats, it provided Democrats with a more even playing field than they might have otherwise had.

All told, more than 40 House Republicans aren’t seeking reelection, and Democrats already have the advantage in a number of these seats, including those currently held by Issa, Frelinghuysen, Ros-Lehtinen and Reichert.

Many of the GOP incumbents who are running have their own problems. Fifty-six Republican incumbents were outraised by the Democratic challengers in the most recent fundraising quarter, and 16 of them trailed in cash on hand as of the end of June. One reason is that Democrats have been able to raise funds at a greater clip than past minority parties, in large part thanks to an unprecedented online fundraising network. Republicans are in better shape when it comes to outside money — Congressional Leadership Fund, the leading pro-GOP super PAC — had $73.3 million in cash on hand as of mid-July, its latest report with the Federal Election Commission.

Democrats also managed to chip away at another House GOP firewall: the maps under which the elections will be held. Nowhere is that more obvious than Pennsylvania: Republicans held a 13-to-5 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation at the beginning of 2017, but thanks to court-ordered redrawing of the districts, Democrats could capture a majority of the state’s House seats this November.

Four seats currently in GOP hands are even classified as Safe or Likely Democratic — New Jersey’s 2nd District and Pennsylvania’s 5th, 6th and 17th districts. In New Jersey, national Republicans have cut loose the party’s nominee, Seth Grossman, over bigoted statements Grossman has made in the past. Pennsylvania’s 5th and 6th districts are poised to move into the Democratic column as a result of new, favorable district lines. In Pennsylvania’s 17th District, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb has a consistent lead over GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus in a member-vs.-member contest.

Democrats have another 10 Republican seats leaning in their direction — their candidates are currently favored, though not assured of victory. Four GOP incumbents are at least slight underdogs: Barbara Comstock in Northern Virginia, Steve Knight in Southern California, Rod Blum in Eastern Iowa, Andy Barr in Kentucky. And Democrats are also favored to pick up seats where incumbents are retiring: Issa’s San Diego-area seat, Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami seat, Reichert’s Washington state seat, and a seat in southern North Carolina, where GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary.

Of the two-dozen seats rated as Toss-Ups, 23 are currently held by Republicans; just one, the southern Minnesota seat Rep. Tim Walz is vacating to run for governor, is held by a Democrat.

Similarly, of the 27 seats rated as Lean Republican, 26 are currently held by the GOP. Republicans’ best pick-up opportunity: the Minnesota Iron Range seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Rick Nolan.

There are some self-inflicted wounds for Republicans on the House map. Blum, whose seat is rated Lean Democratic, is facing an investigation by the House ethics committee. Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor’s campaign is under investigation for allegedly forging signatures on the qualification papers of an independent candidate that could siphon votes away from Elaine Luria, the Democratic nominee.

Two GOP incumbents are under federal indictments: New York Rep. Chris Collins and California Rep. Duncan Hunter. Republicans are trying to replace Collins — who said he doesn’t want to run again, even though he is the GOP nominee — on the ballot, but Democrats have promised to fight his removal. Hunter, meanwhile, is full-steam-ahead on his reelection bid in what would have otherwise been a safe GOP district.

All is not lost for Republicans: Some of their incumbents are in better-than-expected shape, given the Democratic lean of their districts. Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Florida), Will Hurd (Texas) and John Katko (New York) are favored to win reelection.

Democrats will make gains on Election Day, and a “wave election” is possible — though not yet guaranteed. An improvement in the national environment — combined with GOP outside groups’ hand-to-hand combat in some of these districts — can still result in Republicans’ saving their House majority.

With two months to go until Election Day, the House is rated as Lean Democratic.

Remember, this is a best case scenario. It won’t happen if you don’t vote. For those who like to ‘sharpen the differences’ we’ve already had some pretty big gains for more Lefty candidates in the Primary season including a fairly favorable Rule change on Super Delegates and adoption of more populist positions by incumbents. I suggest the differences are quite sharp enough for now.