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2018 Midterms

Why Republicans Are Gaining Steam With 27 Days To Go…Enough To Hold The House?

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Things are looking very good for Republicans with 27 days to go until the election.

1) President Trump has, according to all polling, shot up five points in the last three weeks, and Rasmussen has consistently now had him over 50. This is huge. When Larry Sabato gets out of his lefty funk, every once in a while he says something intelligent, such as when he said earlier this year (correctly) that a Trump appearance is good for five points in a race.

Pollster Richard Baris of @ppdnews says the same thing, that Trump consistently brings a five or six point boost. We saw this in both PA18, where Trump almost got Rick Saccone over the finish line (Saccone was 6 points down prior to Trump’s visit) and in OH12, where Trump did account for Troy Balderson’s victory (again, he was down before Trump came in).  If you want an indicator of where the close races are, watch Trump in the last week of the campaign. Where he goes is where he’s needed.

2) Obviously, the near-character execution of Justice Kavanaugh rebounded enormously to the Republicans’ favor. One caller for a House district in Washington state told me she had seen an overnight change in the response, and of the Democrats she talked to the response was frequently, “I’ve always been a Democrat, but this Judge Kavanaugh stuff . . . .” One pollster, working on the North Dakota race, told me the shift was near-instantaneous, and that over a three-day poll, Heidi Heitkamp went from leading by two, to tied, to down by two. The pollster was so impressed he urged the Republican Kevin Cramer campaign to re-poll a couple of days later, when the shift continued, from Heitkamp tied, to down two, to down eight over three nights.

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3) This pattern has been almost identical now in three other states: Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas. Each was close (supposedly—I never bought that Betamale O’Rourke had a shot) then the R went up a couple, then the R shot out to an 8-10 point lead. The same now appears to be happening in Arizona, where Martha McSally was trailing a month ago, then managed a one point lead, then a three point lead, then today a six point lead. More important, Kristen Sinema has plummeted to 41% in an ABC poll. Supposedly Montana is tight, with the last polls showing Matt Rosendale with a one point lead. But pollster Baris maintains that Jon Tester always seems to “overpoll,” and Rosendale may have a larger lead. In Nevada, three straight polls have now put Dean Heller out to a narrow but consistent lead (again, after Trump came in). Rick Scott sees tight polling in Florida, but insiders tell me they are not concerned, that he is extremely popular. The impact of the hurricane slated to hit Florida imminently might have an effect on the election if he bungles matters, but he has proven a terrific administrator. New Jersey, shockingly, remains a dead heat.

I’m always leery of positive polls for Republicans in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, but Trump has shown that molds can be broken. Bob Menendez is such damaged goods that Bob Hugin could pull off the upset of the campaign there. In Ohio, local polling has Jim Renacci down double digits, which is not believable. The same polls have Mike DeWine up a couple in the governor’s race, Republicans have a massive 300,000 registration lead in Ohio after allocating out all the indie voters by prior voting history, and Renacci has an excellent ground game. I think this one is about a 2-point Brown lead, which could be erased by another Trump visit.

Wisconsin and West Virginia are probably tougher nuts. Scott Walker no longer enjoys the aura of invincibility he once had, and it was going to be up to Walker to pull Leah Vukmir across the line. Likewise, while Patrick Morrissey is running a good race in West Virginia, Joe Manchin has successfully (with his Kavanaugh vote) muddied the waters enough to probably hang on. If Trump goes back to West Virginia, it needs to be in the Charleston area. Unfortunately, I have Pennsylvania and Michigan as lost causes. John James is a good candidate whose time had not come. He did not have the name recognition in a very blue state. Perhaps Kid Rock’s aggressive campaigning can help him, but that’s unlikely as of today.

4) The House seems to be right where I put it weeks ago, namely Democrats will pick up a net of 10-15 seats and fall short of control (they need 23, but are going to lose 2 in Minnesota, so they need to pick up at least 25). Interestingly, a raft of hysterical stories about the Republicans in trouble in the House have emerged from the fake news media. . . gee, almost like it was planned, right? Politico‘s was the best, saying the Democrats “led” or were leaning in 209 districts! Oh my God! Republicans are going to lose 209 seats?????

Eh, not really. They have already lost 196 seats. That’s where the current Congress is in terms of party representation. What Politico  is saying is that the Dems are on pace to gain between 10 and 15 seats.

Wait a minute, where did we just see that? Oh yeah. I told you. If the Democrats ended up with 209, they would still be 8 short of control of the House.

Even then, however, these races, while extremely fluid, appear to be moving almost in unison rightward. In the past few weeks, both North Carolina “endangered” seats, the Kansas seat held by Yoder, and the Michigan seat held by Bishop all appear to be much safer. At the same time, a New Mexico district and Arizona 1 moved into “flippable” territory (the R, Wendy Rogers, has a three point lead in AZ1 and local GOP officials tell me it is “growing.”)

Overall, however, voter registration matters on both sides of the aisle. In New York and parts of California, Republicans have a significant voter edge in “endangered” districts, while in Pennsylvania, the Democrats have redistricted three districts into completely safe zones for themselves.

Thus, three weeks out my prediction still holds that the Republicans narrowly (5-10 seat margin) hold the House and expand their lead in the Senate by four to seven seats (all Trumpers).

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