A raft of retirements, difficulty recruiting candidates and President Trump’s continuing pattern of throwing his party off message have prompted new alarm among Republicans that they could be facing a Democratic electoral wave in November.
The concern has grown so acute that Trump received what one congressional aide described as a “sobering” slide presentation about the difficult midterm landscape at Camp David last weekend, leading the president to pledge a robust schedule of fundraising and campaign travel in the coming months, White House officials said.
But the trends have continued, and perhaps worsened, since that briefing, with two more prominent Republican House members announcing plans to retire from vulnerable seats and a would-be recruit begging off a Senate challenge to Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota despite pressure from Trump to run.
And by the end of the week, many Republicans were scrambling to distance themselves from the president after he spoke of “shithole countries” during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers about immigration policy. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), a rising star in the party who faces a strong Democratic challenge this year, quickly denounced Trump for apparently denigrating Haiti, the birthplace of both her parents, during the Oval Office discussion.
Republican strategists have turned decidedly pessimistic about their prospects for the 2018 midterm elections.
Prominent Republicans are now saying privately that Democrats are virtually certain to win control of the House of Representatives.
As one senior Republican on Capitol Hill told ABC News, “If the election were held today, the House would be gone. Fortunately, the election is not today.”
Another prominent Republican strategist working on the midterm elections went further, telling ABC News point-blank that Republicans will lose the House and that this prospect unlikely to change.
“The only question is whether Democrats win narrowly by picking up 25 seats or whether it is a blowout of more than 35 seats,” the strategist told me.Dante Chinni at NBC:
On top of those political measures of competitiveness, the 30 retirement districts show some demographic points of concern for the GOP.
Among the 30 retirement districts, 11 are above the national average for populations with a college degree.
That could be a problem for the Republicans. In the December NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 57 percent of those with a college-education said they would prefer that the Democrats control Congress, compared to 36 percent of the group who favor Republican control.
And the racial composition of the retirement districts should be worrying for Republicans as well.
Twelve of the retirement districts are above the national average, 38.7 percent, for their minority population. The Republican Party has long struggled to reach minority voters, and those problems have been exacerbated under President Donald Trump.