Democrats Hope 2018 Is The Year They Take Back Power From Trump

Democrats enter 2018 hoping it will be the last year they are shut out of power in Washington. The midterm election campaign gives them a real shot at a place at the table — and, depending on the trajectory of the Russia probe, maybe even an opportunity to impeach President Trump.

Democrats only need to pick up two seats to retake the Senate, thanks to an upset victory in the Alabama special election last month, and 24 to control the House for the first time in eight years. Despite a larger GOP majority, the House is actually the easier bet. The party in power has lost seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections and when the president’s job approval rating is under 50 percent — Trump has been hovering around 40 percent — the average loss is 36 seats. Go all the way back to the Civil War and 35 out of 38 midterms have gone against the president’s party.

Democrats did go 0-4 in the special House races where both parties committed significant resources in 2017 (Trump likes to count Georgia's 6th Congressional District runoff to bump that total up to 0-5). But they capitalized on Republicans nominating a flawed candidate for Senate in Alabama to win a seat there for the first time since 1992 and did even better than expected in the Virginia gubernatorial election.

“Virginia is a blue state, period,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “Since 2005, Republicans have posted a dismal 1-10 record in major statewide elections (governor, senator and president). Going forward, Republicans may pick off an election here or there in the commonwealth but for the most part statewide offices are out of their reach for the foreseeable future, unless of course Northern Virginia somehow gets annexed to D.C.”

Nevertheless, the suburban uprising against Republicans bears watching. “[Republican Ed] Gillespie didn’t underperform; [Democrat Ralph] Northam outperformed,” O’Connell added. “You shouldn’t run from the president who is of the same party. But Virginia is not exactly Trump country, and Trump did not defeat Clinton last year in the commonwealth. So the overall notion that if Gillespie were somehow ‘Trumpier,’ he would have won, doesn’t hold water. What gets lost in all of the post-election hoopla is that Gillespie garnered more votes than the gubernatorial winners in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 as well as the 2014 U.S. Senate victor, but in 2017 it was just not enough because Northam captured the most votes in Virginia gubernatorial history and really did well in suburbs and with voters 18-29.”

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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Analysis & Political Strategy