Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Republican Insiders Prepare for Electoral D-Day

I've been holding off on election projections, but as I always point out, the president's party normally loses seats in the midterms. Even with the strong economy, I don't expect this year to be all that different, especially in the House. I doubt the Democrats will take the Senate, though, since they're defending like 25 seats, and 10 are in states in which President Trump won (in some cases by double digits).

But we'll see.

We'll see.

At Vanity Fair, "“The House Is Already Lost”: G.O.P. Insiders Prepare for Electoral D-Day":


At this stage of the game, losing the House is the most likely proposition. It’s just a matter of how bad it gets,” said a disconsolate Republican strategist with clients on the ballot, describing the final, desperate scramble to rescue the G.O.P.’s 23-seat majority from an impeachment-happy opposition. In Washington, a familiar sort of fatalism has taken hold. Just weeks until early voting kicks off, a spate of fresh public-opinion polls show Democrats on the precipice of a resounding victory. Time is short; resources are dwindling, and the singular figure with the power to make or break the party—Donald Trump—seems pathologically incapable of standing down and letting a booming job market do the talking. “You have people imploring the president not to put them in a position that will harm them—and therefore harm him,” a veteran G.O.P. operative said of Republican congressional leaders.

The pendulum of political power, which historically swings against the White House during the midterms, could be especially savage this year, given the sharp dissatisfaction with Trump in America’s usually Republican-leaning suburbs. Washington’s high-powered consulting class is betting on it. The lobby shops and advocacy organizations that play both sides and thrive on proximity to power are preparing for a changing of the gavel and moving to forge connections with Democratic committee chairmen in the House beginning in January of 2019, when the 116th Congress is seated. “Downtown, there is a sense that the House is already lost for Republicans,” a G.O.P. lobbyist and former senior House aide told me. “There is a hiring spree for plugged-in House Democrats who want to lobby. So, downtown is already planning on the Democratic takeover; the bets are on how big the flip will be.

Democratic operatives aren’t being snapped up by K Street at quite the same rate as two years ago. Lobbying shops were chastened by Trump’s victory in 2016 and are awaiting more evidence to confirm what appears to be a surging blue tide. But professional Washington is not unconvinced. They’re privy to much of the same data being poured over by dialed-in Republicans, and believe an end to one-party rule is on the horizon. Whatever bump the Republicans enjoyed earlier this year, during the brief period of normalcy after Trump signed the historic, $1.3 trillion tax overhaul into law, appears long gone. So is the goodwill House Republicans anticipated when they pictured a fall campaign with a national economy growing at an annual clip of 4 percent, and an unemployment rate that had plummeted below 4 percent. “I’m advising clients to start covering their bases with would-be chairs,” said another Republican lobbyist, referring to the Democrats who are likely to take over powerful House committees, such as Energy and Commerce or Ways and Means.

The political forces battering the G.O.P. aren’t hitting the two houses of Congress equally. As I reported for the Washington Examiner and discovered during a summer swing through the Midwest, 2018 is essentially a tale of two campaigns, reflective of the balkanization gripping our politics. As bad as the midterms look for House Republicans, with dozens of seats in danger, their Senate colleagues begin the fall chase better positioned. The party’s 51-49 Senate majority, propped up by a battleground that runs right through the heart of Trump country, could actually expand, if Republicans can navigate a few molehills, and if those molehills don’t grow into mountains. Rep. Beto O’Rourke might upset Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, granted that has as much to do with the Republican’s own image problems as the Democratic Party’s Senate prospects.

Democrats are on the defensive in a handful of ruby red states a world away from restless, upscale suburbia...
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