On paper, the 2018 midterms should be great for Republicans in the Senate. With a 52-seat majority, the party has to defend only eight seats while 23 Democrats and their two allied independents are up for re-election, including 10 in states that President Trump won in 2016, five of them by double digits, The Wall Street Journal notes.
So it may seem odd that Republicans are finding it hard to recruit top-notch challengers for next year's midterms. But it isn't that strange, really, the Journal says. "Midterms are often referendums on the president and Mr. Trump currently has a 37 percent approval rating, according to Gallup. And history shows the midterm elections more often than not go poorly for the party that controls the White House." The National Republican Senatorial Committee declined to comment to the Journal on its recruitment efforts.
"It's hard to knock off an incumbent in a good year," says Josh Huder at Georgetown's Government Affairs Institute. "In a not-great year, those odds drop even further." Republican strategist Chuck Warren suggests that Republicans with the money or connections to mount a challenge are also being dissuaded by what appears to be a toxic environment and thankless work in Washington.
In any case, good years don't always turn out great. In 2016, for example, Senate Democrats gained only two seats despite a similarly friendly map where 24 Republicans were up for re-election versus only 10 Democrats. You can read more about 2018 midterms at The Wall Street Journal.