4 things to remember in the final weeks of campaign 2018

Posted at 5:31 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 19:31:08-04

The 2018 midterm elections are exactly 56 days away. Eight weeks from today, the nation will go and vote, rendering the verdict on the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency and their relative judgments of the two parties as well.

Below, four things I know about what will matter in the final eight weeks of this election cycle.

1. A Trump referendum: History — since the Civil War — suggests that midterm elections are almost always a referendum on the party in power. (There have been literally three exceptions in all that time.) And President Donald Trump is such a massive figure in our politics  — and in our culture — that it’s hard for me to imagine that he won’t be on the minds of lots of voters (of both parties) this fall.

2. The House playing field favors Democrats: At the moment, CNN ranks 30 House races as “toss ups”; of that 30, 28 are currently held by Republicans. There are also 11 Republican-held seats that are rated as “leaning” toward Democrats — and one GOP seat (New Jersey’s 2nd) where Democrats are solid favorites. That’s a whole lot of Republican seats in a whole lot of jeopardy, especially when you remember that Democrats need only 23 to win back the majority.

3. The Senate playing field favors Republicans: There are 26 Democratic seats up in 2018 as compared to just nine for Republicans. Of those 26 Democratic seats, 10 are in states where President Trump won in 2016. No matter how popular — or, in this case, unpopular — Trump is, he remains more of a boon than a burden in places like West Virginia, Missouri and North Dakota. To win the Senate majority, Democrats need to win in places like Arizona, Tennessee and Texas. All doable. None easy.

4. The Democratic base is more energized: There’s a reason that point No. 1 is almost always true. Because the party out of power usually wants to get it back more than the party in power wants to retain it. It’s human nature. While that’s often true, it’s even more true with Trump in the White House. Democrats hate Trump with the white-hot passion of 1,000 suns. Of the 91% of Democrats in the new CNN-SSRS poll who disapprove of the job Trump is doing, 85% of the them strongly disapprove.

The Point: The House is in deep jeopardy for Republicans. The Senate is — and has been from the start — a tougher climb. The X-factors? 1. Do Trump’s poll numbers keep dropping (even in red states)? and 2. What does he say, do and tweet between now and Nov. 6?

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