In the wake of the 2016 elections, the Republican Party was riding high on the wave of Trumpism. The president’s upset over Hillary Clinton gave the GOP control of Congress and the White House. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch cemented the party’s control over the Supreme Court. Things were looking good for the Republican Party. The Democrats, on the other hand, were wandering in the wilderness, trying to figure out where they went wrong and what to do for the future. However, as Trump’s popularity has plummeted and the GOP’s legislative agenda has stalled, the Democratic Party’s attention turned to the 2018 midterms and they’ve gotten a bit of good news in the form of a string of Democratic victories at the state level.
In states as red as Missouri and Oklahoma, Democrats have turned out to vote, ousting Republican legislatures from seats they should have comfortably held. This is an encouraging sign that the Democratic Party’s base is motivated to do more than simply protest Trump. They’re prepared to go to the polls even at the state level. For a party that is in desperate need of some good news, these state-level victories are a good sign. If the Democratic Party is able to continue such turnout into the midterms, then we may see the Democrats take control of one, or even both, houses of Congress in 2018.
In five out of the six special state elections held since Trump took office, Democrats have won by strong margins. The only one that went to the GOP was a district in Louisiana where no Democrat ran. Democrats are confident that the sinking popularity of Trump may drag Republicans down with him.
“Our wins send a clear message to Republicans everywhere that no matter how red the district is, you can’t hide from the shadow cast by the Trump administration,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Indeed, Trump’s waning popularity bodes ill for the GOP. Midterm elections are normally difficult ones for the party that holds the White House and it is likely that Trump will make things worse. Committed conservatives may not bring themselves to vote Democratic, but they may very well simply stay home on the midterms, allowing the Democrats to take back Congress.
One Republican strategist confided to The Hill that Trump’s image could very well be a problem for the party going into 2018 and beyond.
‘Trump’s image is literally the most important thing in a Republican primary. Because his image is all-consuming and because it’s the most important thing in Republican primaries, no Republican candidate can afford to ignore that sentiment among their primary voters. That is all complicated by the fact that the picture is very different in a general election.’
Republicans are in a difficult position. If they run away from Trump, then they run the risk of losing support from the president’s base. On the other hand, if they support Trump then they run the risk of alienating moderate voters. The GOP has no easy solutions to the Trump problem.
Featured image via Getty Images.