On Tuesday night in Wisconsin’s 10th State Senate district, Republicans watched with alarm as Democrats took yet another legislative seat. What makes the loss so troubling is it was a seat Republicans had held for 17 years in a district Donald Trump won in 2016 by 17 points. Yet the Democrat won by 11 points. After a loss like that, Republicans might wonder if a blue wave is building for the midterm elections in November.
There’s no “might”—a blue wave is building without a doubt.
Republican should have been seeing red flags flying all over for almost a year. What if I told you that a bonafide socialist running against the majority whip of Virginia’s House of Delegates—a candidate who was outspent by $500,000 and who was essentially disavowed by the Democratic Party—beat the Republican incumbent by nearly 2,000 votes? That happened in Virginia’s 50th district, which serves Manassas City and part of Prince William County. Republicans have typically won there by double digits. Or consider what happened in Virginia’s 13th district, where the Republican incumbent of 25 years was trounced by a transgender Democrat.
How about New Hampshire’s 4th House district, where Republicans have a 2-1 registration advantage? The Democrat still won. There’s also Oklahoma’s 46th district, where the Republican incumbent would typically win with more than 60 percent of the vote. Yet when the Republican stepped down last year, the Democrat won a special election by a 20-point landslide.
It would be one thing if these races were close, but they’re not really. And the winning candidates aren’t “conservative” Democrats, either—they’re transgender progressives and democratic socialists in the Bernie Sanders’ mold.
Now add to this mix add the historical fact that a president in his first midterm typically loses seats. Then add on the fact that a president with an approval rating below 50 percent loses 36 seats on average in the House of Representatives. President Trump’s RealClearPolitics average right now is hovering at 40 percent, though—to be fair—two of the more recent polls have him at 42 percent and 45 percent, respectively.
Consider, too, that 23 Republicans are sitting in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and the Republican majority in the House stands currently at 24 seats. With 31 Republican retirements in the House, you have a recipe for disaster if Republicans are not careful. Today, the “enthusiasm gap” favors the Democrats. But we shouldn’t resign ourselves to a Democratic Party resurgence just yet. A lot can happen between now and November.
First, we’ve barely begun seeing the benefits of tax reform. In less than 30 days since President Trump signed the tax overhaul into law, we’ve seen a staggering number of positive signs, with over 200 companies giving bonuses, raises, and 401(k) increases to millions of workers that will have a huge impact in the lives of American families. We’ve seen the Dow Jones Industrial Average rise 1,000 points in just over a week. And let’s not forget, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates that upwards of 90 percent of U.S. workers will see an increase in their paychecks in February. We’re seeing companies like Apple bringing back $350 billion back to U.S. shores with the promise of creating 20,000 new jobs domestically. There’s no reason to think this trend will end anytime soon. So what happens 10 months from now, with the Dow trading over 27,000, 4 percent growth in the economy over a couple of quarters, and wages and employment numbers up?
How will the Democrats respond to a thriving economy? What exactly are Democrats running on in 2018 anyway? #TheResistance? Impeachment? That Donald Trump is a bad man because he might, or might not have, used a naughty word so put us back into the majorities and let us raise your taxes?
At this moment in January 2018, Democrats would be hard-pressed to lay out a cohesive message and vision for their policy goals should they win back the Congress. It is always a dangerous calculation to assume that voters will vote for you simply because you’re not the other guy.
The final variable is this: What if the narrative completely changes on some stories that have been percolating for over a year now? What if the unmasking scandal, which I said in early spring 2017 would make Watergate look like small ball, bursts wide open? What if the Fusion GPS dossier is 100 percent proven to have been used as justification for a FISA warrant? Add to all of this the Awan brothers scandal, a scandal that has yet to really come to the surface. What if in 2018, instead of a blue wave, the Democrats are instead pulled into the black hole vortex of the scandals of their own making?