For years, the best tool to predict which party will gain House seats in any given election has been the so-called "generic ballot test." The "generic" is a poll question that asks voters which party they’d support in the upcoming congressional election. While it can’t tell us exactly how many seats one party or the other should expect to gain/lose, it does give us a good idea of the range we can expect. And, right now, Democrats should be very happy about what they are seeing. The RealClear Politics average shows Democrats with a whopping 10.5 percent lead on the generic.
Senate Republicans started the cycle with a good electoral map that gave them some hope that they could gain seats, even in a mid-term election when history strongly suggests that they should lose them. But, a growing schism in the Republican Party is threatening to erode many of the advantages Senate Republicans have, and is beginning to jeopardize their ability to gain seats as they are forced to fight multiple primaries that have the potential to provide Democrats with opportunities that didn’t exist just a month ago.
By now it’s become pretty obvious that while many Republican members of Congress may be privately cheering for Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, they aren’t going to follow their lead and publicly break with the president or their party.
Politics is not all that complicated. It is a game of incentives. And, right now there is no incentive for Republicans to split from the President.
Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake announced today that he will not seek re-election in 2018. While Flake was considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents on the ballot this cycle, his decision to retire may not improve Republicans' chances of holding the seat.
We may have already reached a critical juncture in the 2018 Senate midterm elections, so beware of simplistic interpretations. Too often people look at possible electoral outcomes in a binary way; everything is either a zero or a one. In this case, it’s either Democrats cannot win a majority in the Senate, or Republicans will lose their majority. Many people turn a deaf ear toward nuances and “what if’s.”
Late last week, I joined my colleague David Wasserman for interviews with about half-a dozen Democrats running in competitive swing districts currently held by Republicans. It was a good reminder of just how disconnected DC and the cable networks are from what Democratic candidates and campaigns are talking about back home.
President Trump and GOP control of Congress have sparked a 2018 Democratic candidate bonanza. Don't call it "recruitment:" for the most part, these aspirants decided to take the plunge on their own. Many are political newcomers; others have waited years for the right moment to run. And in light of national polling, it was only a matter of time before more GOP-held House seats joined the ranks of the vulnerable.
By now we are all familiar with the GOP formula in competitive House races. Take the Democratic candidate. Put his or her picture next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad. Warn voters that the Democratic candidate shares Pelosi’s "San Francisco values" and will be a foot solider in Pelosi’s liberal army if he or she gets to Washington. Rinse. Repeat.
Earlier this year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a speech to the annual gathering of liberal activists known as NetRoots Nation, where she made clear that her brand of progressive politics, not the more centrist brand practiced by President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, was the core of the Democratic identity.
Despite the over-caffeinated news coverage, little of what happens on a day-to-day or even week-to-week basis in American politics has real meaning or long-term consequence. An exception was the victory Tuesday of controversial former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore over appointed Republican Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama. It was a very big deal.