Midterms: Is the ‘blue wave’ receding?
Maybe Republicans aren’t “heading for disaster in the midterms” after all, said John Cassidy in NewYorker.com. President Trump appeared to be “electoral poison” for his party, which is why more than 40 House Republicans decided against seeking re-election. Democrats looked poised to flip the 24 seats needed to reclaim the House; 23 Republicans are defending seats in districts won by Hillary Clinton. But in recent Republican primaries in West Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio, pro-Trump candidates won, indicating he’s still popular in red states, and the strong turnout showed that “the GOP intends to put up a fight.” To help hold the House, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson just pledged $30 million to a conservative Super PAC. “The writing is simply not on the wall for a Democratic blowout,” said Jared Whitley in TheHill.com. With the economy “staggeringly good” and Democrats busy fighting each other over ideological purity, “the blue tidal wave will, at best, be a blue trickle.”
Democrats still have reason for cautious optimism, said Domenico Montanaro in NPR.org. In the generic congressional ballot polls, Democrats hold about a 6-point advantage. But that’s down from a 10-point lead in February, and many prognosticators think they’ll need at least the 7.5 percent advantage they had in the 2006 election, when they took control of the House. Turnout will be critical. Polls show Democrats are far more enthusiastic than Republicans about voting in the midterms, and if that proves to be true in primaries and special elections over the next few months, it would be “the surest real-time sign of high water coming in.”
To win, Democrats will have to avoid getting bogged down in a pointless identity crisis, said Frank Bruni in The New York Times. The endless “back-and-forth” about whether the party should move left and follow the lead of Bernie Sanders or favor centrist candidates with broader appeal is “foolish.” Conor Lamb won a special House election in Pennsylvania two months ago by focusing on local issues, vowing to protect Social Security and Medicare, and eschewing liberal orthodoxy on culture-war issues like gun rights. House candidates’ position on the political spectrum should vary “from place to place,” depending on the district’s political makeup. “No objective matters more than controlling Trump by controlling the House,” so the Democrats’ ideal candidate in every district will be the one who can win. ■