2018 Campaign

Ryan Upends GOP Hopes for the Midterm Elections

New York Times: “For House Republicans, and for a White House bracing for a potential Democratic impeachment inquiry, the more immediate and ominous impact of Mr. Ryan’s retirement was unmistakable: He has made it more difficult for his party to keep control of the House, where Republicans currently hold a 23-seat majority. With one decision, Mr. Ryan has turned an already difficult midterm election into a precarious task for his remaining colleagues.”

Said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA): “This is the nightmare scenario. Everybody figured he’d just hang in there till after the election.”

“Mr. Ryan’s exit is a destabilizing blow to Republicans’ 2018 plans on nearly every front.”

Ryan’s Retirement Puts His Seat at Risk

Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement shifts Wisconsin’s his congressional district from the Solid Republican to the Lean Republican, “with the potential for the race to become even more competitive,” the according to the Cook Political Report.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball says it’s a Toss Up.

Weekly Standard: “Ryan’s district might not be competitive if the national environment was neutral. Wisconsin’s 1st District moved right in the 2016 election. Trump won the district by 10 points after Romney took it only by four points in 2012 (though 2012 may be an odd case because Ryan was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee). And in 2008, Barack Obama won the area by about three points while winning the national popular vote by seven, suggesting that it took a real step to the right over the course of the last four to eight years. If you add that to Ryan’s incumbency advantage, you get a district that would’t typically be near the boottom of the GOP’s list of worries.

“But the national environment isn’t neutral.”

Ryan Will Not Run Again

Speaker Paul Ryan has told confidants that he will announce soon that he won’t run for reelection in November, Axios reports.

This decision has been long rumored but his final deliberations were held extremely closely.

New York Times: “Mr. Ryan told the House Republican Conference that he will serve until the end of this Congress in January, which will mark 20 years in Congress. But his retirement announcement is sure to kick off a succession battle for the leadership of the House Republican Conference… It could also trigger another wave of retirements among Republicans not eager to face angry voters in the fall and taking their cue from Mr. Ryan.”

Washington Post: “The party has seen a large number of retirements, and Ryan’s exit is certain to sap morale as Republicans seek to contain a surge in enthusiasm from Democrats, whose fortunes have been buoyed by the unpopularity of President Trump.”

Mueller Is a Wildcard In the Midterm Elections

McClatchy: “Many Republicans said it’s nearly impossible to prepare for the myriad Mueller scenarios, and they argue their time is better-spent dealing with current realities of the race. Those Republicans who have given the issue thought have wildly divergent views about how they would advise candidates to proceed if there is a Mueller verdict, from dismissing negative results as ‘fake news’ to pushing for a pivot to local issues.”

“Democrats, meanwhile, are in their own messaging quandary, caught between a desire to seize on a potential one-of-a-kind scandal or stick with pocketbook issues such as health care. Some party operatives even think Democrats would be better off in November if Mueller’s investigation never existed in the first place.”

Wave of Young Voters Expected In November

A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds a huge jump in enthusiasm among young Americans about voting in this year’s midterm elections.

Key finding: 37% of Americans under age 30 indicate that they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 23% who said the same in 2014.

“Young Democrats are driving nearly all of the increase in enthusiasm; a majority (51%) report that they will ‘definitely’ vote in November, which represents a 9-percentage point increase since November 2017 and is significantly larger than the 36 percent of Republicans who say the same.”

Republicans Worried About Quality of Senate Candidates

“Republicans fear the party could blow a golden opportunity to pad its 51-49 Senate majority after watching a collection of underwhelming candidates emerge as the likely nominees in key contests,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The Republican Party entered the 2018 cycle threatening incumbent Democrats in 10 states that President Trump carried in 2016. Even as immediate dissatisfaction with Trump quickly threatened the Republican majority in the House, a favorable map acted to shield the GOP from similar headwinds in the Senate.”

“Seven months before Election Day, Republicans are worrying about dwindling opportunities as candidates that are some combination of defective, unimpressive and underfunded appear headed toward victory in a handful of GOP primaries.”

Florida Senate Race Is a Toss Up

Cook Political Report: “In one of the most anticipated announcements of the cycle, Republican Gov. Rick Scott confirmed today that he will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Scott’s decision puts the contest into the Toss Up column.”

“Very few candidates could wait until 211 days before an election to announce a statewide campaign. Scott is one of them. With 10 media markets and 27 congressional districts, any candidate with statewide aspirations needs two things to be competitive: name identification and money. Scott has both and thus could afford to wait as long as he has. The late announcement also allowed him to work through the last regular legislative session of his administration.”

First Read: “Make no mistake: 2018 is shaping up to be a rough year for the GOP, and Scott’s previous statewide wins (in 2010 and 2014) all came in good Republican years. But today’s news is a helpful shot in the arm for the GOP.”

How Russia Could Steal Our Next Election

Clare Malone: “While Americans are well-acquainted with Russian online trolls’ 2016 disinformation campaign, there’s a more insidious threat of Russian interference in the coming midterms. The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts. Election security experts have warned of it, but state election officials have largely played it down for fear of spooking the public. We still might not know the extent to which state election infrastructure was compromised in 2016, nor how compromised it will be in 2018.”

Trump Losing Older, Educated Voters

“Older, white, educated voters helped Donald Trump win the White House in 2016. Now, they are trending toward Democrats in such numbers that their ballots could tip the scales in tight congressional races from New Jersey to California,” a new Reuters/Ipsos poll and a data analysis of competitive districts shows.

“Nationwide, whites over the age of 60 with college degrees now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress by a 2-point margin… During the same period in 2016, that same group favored Republicans for Congress by 10 percentage points.”

“The 12-point swing is one of the largest shifts in support toward Democrats that the Reuters/Ipsos poll has measured over the past two years. If that trend continues, Republicans will struggle to keep control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, in the November elections, potentially dooming President Trump’s legislative agenda.”

Republicans Focus on Retaining Senate Control

“Republicans are increasingly worried they will lose control of the House in the midterm elections, furiously directing money and resources to hold and potentially boost their narrow majority in the Senate,” the Washington Post reports.

“To many, the Senate is emerging as a critical barrier against Democrats demolishing President Trump’s agenda beginning in 2019. Worse yet, some in the GOP fear, Democrats could use complete control of Congress to co-opt the ideologically malleable president and advance their own priorities.”

“Democratic enthusiasm is surging in suburban districts that House Republicans are struggling to fortify, causing GOP officials, donors and strategists to fret. They have greater confidence in the more rural red states Trump won convincingly that make up the bulk of the Senate battlefield.”