With midterms quickly approaching, all signs indicate major trouble for the GOP, particularly in the House. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll shows that 47 percent of registered voters prefer the democratic candidate in their respective district, which could present problems for the GOP, who are struggling to turn out their base. The energy on the left should be cause for concern for the Republican Party. In part because President Trump is not on the ballot so Republican turnout will likely not be as high and Democrats have all of the motivation on their side to turn out because of their opposition to President Trump and Republicans.
Twenty-five Republican districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 are now at serious risk this election cycle. Democrats have won unprecedented elections, winning in districts that were previously considered Republican strongholds in various special elections across the United States. In some instances, such as Connor Lamb who won the House seat in Pennsylvania, he didn’t run as a progressive, but instead ran on issues that in some instances weren’t in lock step with the broader Democratic Party message, which would lead him to victory. Democrats have learned, at least in some instances, that running in opposition to Trump isn’t enough to win. Although the party as a whole doesn’t seemed to have figured it out, some candidates obviously have, and if the party recognizes the power of running candidates as individuals focused on the specific issues of their particular areas, they could have a winning strategy too difficult for the GOP to overcome. Such as when Democrat Patty Schachtner won a special election that surprised the entire nation in a rural Wisconsin district. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called it “a wake-up call for Republicans” because it’s a district that President Trump by 17 points.
However, there might be some hope for Republicans, as we recently saw in the AZ-8 (Arizona) special election, where Republican Debbie Lesko pulled off a 6-point win over Democrat Hiral Tipireni, 53 percent to 47 percent. Despite that win, Democrats continue to perform better than average. Romney won AZ-8 by 25 in 2012 and President Trump carried it by 21 points in 2016.
The growing opposition to President Trump coupled with enthusiasm among Democrats have led to the Democrats having a $10.5 million fundraising advantage in more than 20 of the most competitive races for the U.S. House of Representatives. Moreover, Democrats have outspent Republicans in 60 congressional districts held by the GOP.
Thankfully for the GOP, the Senate map doesn’t favor Democrats and although Democrats might hope to change the Senate, this electoral map is the worst in decades for Democrats to knock off Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans. It’s a much steeper hill to climb for Democrats and they aren’t currently positioned to climb it.
However, losing the House is going to make it tougher for President Trump to pass conservative legislative policy. It hasn’t been smooth sailing with members of his own party, and it will be a lot worse with Democrats. Democrats don’t have a mandate to work with the president. In effect, most Democrat supporters want Democrats to stand up and reject Trump at every turn, which means if the House flips, we’re going to see a repeat of part of the Obama years when Republicans controlled the House and not much was accomplished.
Why such a challenge for Republicans this year? Two reasons: The first is that the pocketbook issues are the No. 1 priority for voters, and despite Republicans making history with the historic passage of the tax reform bill, the bill didn’t really help everyday people. Just 24 percent of Americans view the tax bill “helping them and their families directly,” which is not good for Republicans who positioned the bill as a major milestone that would help the American people.
The second is the wide enthusiasm gap. The enthusiasm gap—voters who traditionally voted GOP party now see themselves more as specific Trump voters than “Republican” voters and because Trump is not on the ballot, turnout and vote counts will surely fall this election, which benefits Democrats and hurts the GOP significantly. In addition, Hillary Clinton is not on the ballot and is no longer in public office, so although she might have been a major reason for many Republicans (and Democrats) turning out in 2016, that will not be the case this November.
Republicans have been forewarned of what’s to come and haven’t done much of anything to attempt to change their standing. From Paul Ryan resigning to dozens of other members leaving their posts, it makes you wonder what is the path forward for the GOP and who will lead that charge because right now, it’s a party stuck in the weirdness looking for its way home.
Mr. Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. Listen to Mr. Williams on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., EST. Follow on Twitter @arightside.