Donald Trump has Republicans on a path to midterm losses that could flip the House to Democrats — but the resistance has to do its part to make it happen.
Donald Trump’s early unpopularity, coupled with his apparent disinterest in key elections and antagonism toward his fellow Republicans, already has his party on the path to losses in the midterm elections, if voters resisting him make sure to show up.
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics points out that Trump’s anemic approval ratings — 35 percent in the latest Gallup assessment, lower than President Obama’s ever was — “are the kinds of negative approval numbers we’ve seen from presidents who have suffered big midterm setbacks.”
Democrats would need to gain 25 seats to reach 218, the number required for a majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, they need to gain three seats to have a majority. Within the three most recent midterm elections, both parties have earned enough seats to change control of the House. Republicans earned 63 seats in 2010 to take control, while Democrats won 30 seats in 2006, leading to Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
Sabato goes on to point out that Trump’s approval rating could actually be “artificially high” because “the nation and world are fairly tranquil right now” — there have been no recent terrorist attacks on the United States, while the stock market and GDP growth are in overall positive territory and unemployment is down to 4.7 percent (data points easily attributable to President Obama’s work). Yet Trump, who lost the popular vote and entered the presidency with the lowest approval rating ever, continues to lose ground with voters.
Other signs of trouble for Trump and the Republicans include his apparent disinterest in the upcoming Georgia special election in the 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is holding his own in polls while receiving a huge boost from grassroots donations from across the country. Recently asked if Trump plans to be involved in the race, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “I’ve not even thought about it.”
At the same time, because so much of his presidency is about putting his own fragile ego above the wishes of conservative Republicans, Trump is still blaming the conservative House Freedom Caucus for opposing his plan to repeal Obamacare (they thought the plan formulated by Trump and Ryan was not mean enough). He fumed about them on Twitter:
The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
Attacking the conservative base of the Republican Party is not an auspicious start for Trump, headed into the midterms.
The pieces are all assembled for possible losses for Trump and the GOP in the midterms, but it is not a fait accompli. Voters cannot assume that their preferred outcome will happen without organization and enthusiasm. They have to take the energy seen in the Women’s March, town halls, and the opposition to health care repeal, and translate that to the ballot box.