2018 Campaign

How This Year’s Elections May Change Next Year’s

Nate Silver: “While Tuesday’s results may not change the reality of the 2018 outlook all that much, it could change perceptions about it, and that could have some knock-on effects. (Politicians are often like Morning Joe panelists in how they think about elections.) Republicans’ retirement issues may get even worse; Democrats’ recruiting may get even better. Republicans might think twice about how they’re proceeding on tax reform — especially given that their current plans could have negative effects on just the sorts of wealthy coastal suburbs where Republicans performed poorly on Tuesday.”

“And there will be lots of recriminations about the race that Ed Gillespie ran in Virginia, which could change Republicans’ thinking on how they should relate to Trump. Some of this is going to be silly: Gillespie did no worse (and no better) than you’d expect given Trump’s approval rating and Virginia’s blue lean. But if those politicians think Tuesday was a huge game-changing deal, they may begin to act like it and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

More House GOP Retirements Coming

A Republican campaign official tells Playbook to expect several House GOP retirements as soon as this week… Republicans are telling us not to read into these retirements — they are all for personal reasons, officials say. But, needless to say, the DCCC would love some more open seats.”

Said the source: “Don’t be surprised to see some retirements this week. Mostly in safe seats but could also see in a competitive seat or two. Still well below average on retirements.”

Democrats Open Wide Lead In Generic Ballot

“Voters say they prefer Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives over Republicans by the widest margin in over a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a fresh sign of trouble for the GOP majority one year before the midterm elections.”

“But Democrats’ effort to convert widespread disapproval of President Trump into victories in 2018 could be undercut by lower turnout, with Republicans expressing just as much motivation to vote in next year’s elections.”

“A slim 51% majority of registered voters say that if the election were held today, they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, while 40% say they would choose the Republican. That’s the biggest spread in a Post-ABC survey since October 2006, just weeks before a midterm in which Democrats won back control of the House and Senate amid deep dissatisfaction with then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”

Tancredo Will Run for Colorado Governor

“After back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2014, immigration hardliner and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) plans to try again in 2018 to become Colorado’s next governor — a move spurred in part by his anger at Republicans for not protesting when a Colorado Springs resort canceled a white nationalist conference where he was supposed to speak,” the Denver Post reports.

Hensarling Won’t Run for Re-Election

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) announced he will not seek reelection in 2018, marking the end of a political career defined by his long-running struggle to pare back government intervention in the economy, Politico reports.

“Hensarling, first elected to Congress in 2002, is in his last term as chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, where he has spent years fighting with mixed success to roll back regulations and phase out federal programs.”

Congressional Candidate Says She Was ‘Weinsteined’

“A top congressional candidate in one of the nation’s marquee races for Democrats is accusing a political ally she once supported of exposing himself to her — and he’s countering that she might be lying to gain attention for her campaign,” Politico reports.

“The lurid dispute between Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and progressive activist Rafael Velasquez — a city commission candidate she had endorsed — marks the latest scandal nagging Florida Democrats amid the national debate about sexual harassment sparked by accusations from multiple women against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.”

Said Gonzalez: “I was ‘Harvey Weinsteined’ by Rafael Velasquez, the candidate I have been supporting and raising money for in the Miami Beach commission race.”

Mercers Go After Elizabeth Warren

Boston Globe: “This time the attacks are coming from someone new: Robert Mercer, a New York billionaire who is trying to remake American politics and who bankrolled former Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s Republican revolution.”

“Mercer’s methods are anything but subtle. One political operative described Mercer’s approach to politics as a ‘trail of tears’ tactic, a reference to President Andrew Jackson’s forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands.”

“Given political realities — including Warren’s massive fund-raising advantage and Massachusetts’ liberal status — Mercer’s intent isn’t really to defeat her in the 2018 Senate race, according to three people with knowledge of the family’s intentions. Instead, Robert Mercer and his politically minded middle daughter Rebekah have a longer term goal: They want to sand down some of Warren’s gloss ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2020.”

Hatch Tells Friends He Intends to Retire

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) “has privately told allies in Utah that he is planning to retire at the end of his term next year, and if he does, Mitt Romney intends to run for his seat,” The Atlantic reports.

“Sources close to both men said plans have already been set in motion for Hatch to retire and for Romney to run, but they cautioned that the timing of the announcements has not yet been finalized, and that either man could still change his mind. They spoke on condition of anonymity, because the plans are not yet public, and the subject is sensitive to Hatch.”

Enthusiasm Gap Should Worry Republicans

Amy Walter: “One thing that should scare Republicans—and make them think that the 2016 strategy may not be sufficient in 2018—is the enthusiasm gap. Back in 2016, Republicans were wary of Trump but they turned out and voted for him because they didn’t like the alternative and they were willing to accept the half-good versus the awful. Their ambivalence with Trump was outweighed by their disdain for Clinton. Two years later, they don’t have Obamacare repeal, a GOP-led Congress is getting little accomplished and the president continues to behave in a non-presidential way. With Hillary Clinton no longer on the ballot, the incentive to turn out is no longer quite as immediate or intense.”

“Meanwhile, Democrats, who were also less than thrilled about their nominee in 2016, are totally united in their disdain for Trump.”

For members: The Only Thing That Can Really Unify Republicans

Democrats Open Huge Lead in Generic Ballot

A new CNN poll finds Democrats lead in the generic congressional ballot by a 16-point margin, 54% to 38%.

Washington Post: “If that were actually to turn out to be the case, of course, we’d be talking about a Democratic landslide — and almost definitely a Democratic takeover of the House that is so difficult given the map. But even if it’s just close to reality, it could be a very bad omen for the Republican Party in a historically tough first midterm election under a president of their own party.”

McConnell Allies Declare War on Steve Bannon

“Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared open warfare on Wednesday against Stephen Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and leader of an insurrection aimed at defeating mainstream GOP candidates in next year’s midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“More than a year ahead of the 2018 congressional contests, a super PAC aligned with McConnell (R-KY) revealed plans to attack Bannon personally as it works to protect incumbents facing uphill primary fights. The effort reflects the growing concern of Republican lawmakers over the rise of anti-establishment forces and comes amid escalating frustration over President Trump’s conduct, which has prompted a handful of lawmakers to publicly criticize the president.”