2018 Campaign

7 Risk Factors for House Republicans

The Cook Political Report identifies “seven risk factors” for House GOP incumbents in the midterm elections:

  • Sits in a district with a Cook PVI score of R+5 or less Republican.
  • Sits in a district that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.
  • Received 55 percent of the vote or less in the 2016 election (or a 2017 special election).
  • Voted in favor of the American Health Care Act in the May 4 roll call vote.
  • Voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the December 19 roll call vote.
  • Raised less money than at least one Democratic opponent in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Has a Democratic opponent with at least $200,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

“Only one incumbent, Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25), has all seven risk factors. Eight incumbents have six risk factors, 23 incumbents have five, 23 incumbents have four and 32 have three.”

56 GOP House Seats Are Now Vulnerable

Cook Political Report: “Multiple indicators, including generic ballot polls , President Trump’s approval ratings and recent special election results, point to midterm danger for Republicans. But without robust race-by-race polling, it’s trickier to predict individual races six months out.”

“Our latest ratings point to 56 vulnerable GOP-held seats, versus six vulnerable Democratic seats. Of the 56 GOP seats at risk, 15 are open seats created by retirements. Even if Democrats were to pick up two-thirds of those seats, they would still need to hold all their own seats and defeat 13 Republican incumbents to reach the magic number of 218. Today, there are 18 GOP incumbents in our Toss Up column.”

“That Toss Up list is likely to grow as the cycle progresses. Out of the 65 GOP incumbents rated as less than ‘Solid,’ 49 were first elected in 2010 or after, meaning more than three quarters have never had to face this kind of political climate before. And, Democrats have a donor enthusiasm edge: in the first quarter of 2018, at least 43 sitting Republicans were out-raised by at least one Democratic opponent.”

Illinois Governor’s Race Rattled by New Candidate

Illinois state Sen. Sam McCann (R) launched a third-party bid for Illinois governor, “exacerbating tensions in the party as Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) tries to heal them ahead of November’s contest against Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker (D),” the Chicago Tribune reports.

McCann is running as what he called an “independent conservative,” telling Politico that he felt “called to serve” to counter the prospect of having only two “billionaires from Chicago” on the November ballot.

Sinema Leads In Arizona Senate Race

A new OH Predictive Insights/ABC15 poll in Arizona finds Kyrsten Sinema (D) leading Marha McSally (R) in a U.S. Senate match up, 47% to 42% with 10% undecided.

In other match ups, Sinema tops Kelli Ward (R), 50% to 40%, and beats Joe Arpaio (R), 59% to 33%.

In the GOP primary race, Ward leads with 36%, followed by McSally at 27% and Arpaio at 22%.

Key finding: “Republicans hold a +12 Republican likely voter advantage in the 2018 General Election, and that’s how we conducted this poll, with a +12 Republican advantage. But in all three matchups the Democrat is winning.”

Why Stormy Daniels Poses a Problem for Democrats

Ron Brownstein: “Trump has forged a powerful connection with many working-class whites by expressing their anxiety about cultural, demographic, and economic change. If there’s an opening for Democrats among these Americans, it’s through discrediting Trump’s argument that he’s championing working-class interests against powerful elites. For Democrats, the key is building a case that Trump, for all his posturing as a working-class hero, has increased economic insecurity for average families. They could do so by highlighting his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, along with his support for a tax plan that mostly benefited the wealthy and corporations and will eventually increase pressure to cut Social Security and Medicare.”

“Those arguments, however, now rarely break through the tabloid maelstrom constantly engulfing Trump. Yet, as in 2016, personal doubts about the president may not prove disqualifying for enough voters to provide Democrats a winning majority.”

“The election results in November are much more likely to turn on which side wins the arguments over those policies than on whether slightly more or fewer Americans than today consider Trump unfit for the presidency. In other words: For a sunny outcome this fall, Democrats probably need more health care and taxes—and less Comey and Stormy.”

Trump Enlisted In Next Week’s Arizona Special Election

Washington Post: “Starting earlier this month, Republican voters in the western Phoenix suburbs have received robo-calls in which Trump warns that ‘illegal immigrants will pour right over your border’ if Democrats win the House. ‘Nancy Pelosi wants to send a liberal Democrat to Congress to represent you,’ Trump says in the call. ‘We can’t have that.’”

“Republican groups have spent more than $500,000 to boost Lesko… The involvement of the president and GOP leadership underscores that no race is a surefire win for the party in an unforgiving midterm year.”

Senate Candidate Did Not Disclose DUI Convictions

“In U.S. Senate candidate Luke Messer’s (R) first successful run for public office, he had to persuade a caucus of local party insiders that he was the right man to replace state Rep. Roland Stine, a beloved schoolteacher who was killed by a drunken driver less than a month earlier,” the Indianapolis Star reports.

“That position would launch his political career and eventually land him a spot as a top Republican in Congress.”

“But Messer had a secret: He himself had two drunken driving convictions.”

GOP Fears Risk in Senate Races If House Extend Tax Cuts

“Heading into a contentious campaign for control of Congress, Republicans are increasingly divided over how to bolster their signature legislative achievement — a $1.5 trillion tax cut — amid signs it is not the political gift they had expected it to be last year,” the Washington Post reports.

“House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) aims to pass another massive tax cut this summer, which Republicans hope will rev up the GOP base and improve the standing of Republicans at the polls.”

“But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is under pressure to block a vote, which Republican campaign strategists worry could allow red-state Democrats to vote for additional tax cuts and undermine one of the GOP’s most effective lines of attack in conservative-leaning states: that Democrats voted against a big tax cut last December.”

Dismal Fundraising for House Republicans

“A whopping 43 House Republicans raised less money than Democratic challengers in the first three months of 2018 — nearly the same number of stragglers the GOP had at the end of last year,” Politico reports.

“An overlapping group of 16 Republican incumbents already have less cash on hand than Democratic challengers, up from the end of 2017, despite hopes that tax reform would open more donor wallets.”

Arizona GOP Tries to Delay Vote If McCain Leaves Senate

Arizona lawmakers “are considering a bill that would take Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat off the November ballot if the six-term Arizona Republican, who is battling a deadly form of brain cancer, leaves office early,” the Arizona Republic reports.

TPM: “Statehouse Republicans seemingly tried to pull a fast one on their Democratic counterparts, quietly adding an emergency clause to a bipartisan bill to clean up special election laws in the state that would have handed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) assurance that he’d get to appoint a replacement for McCain through 2020.”