The Republicans are feeling pretty good about their chances in the midterm elections. Thanks to a stunning turn with the American electorate, November doesn’t seem like the doomsday prediction anymore.
The jubilant GOP House and Senate members met for a retreat to discuss political strategy in West Virginia last week. It came days after President Trump’s triumphant State of the Union address on Tuesday that garnered record viewership and highly favorable polling results.
“I just looked at some numbers, you’ve even done better than you thought,” President Trump told the assembled lawmakers. National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) may have said it best on Thursday; “The numbers are pretty good and that’s one example of how things are getting better.”
Better is not the word for the stunning turn-about. A Monmouth University Poll released last Wednesday following Trump’s speech showed that the president’s approval rating had jumped 10 points compared to last month, while the Democratic advantage on the generic ballot had shrunk to 2 percentage points.
The numbers are astonishing and they did not go unnoticed by the Democrats. A nationwide Monmouth survey in December showed Democrats with a 15-point advantage on the generic ballot. Furthermore, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows voters think Republicans have a better plan for jobs and employment than Democrats, by a margin of 37.6 percent to 27.8 percent.
This is bad news for the Democrats’ hope of taking the House in November. It appears their 24/7 bashing of this president is backfiring. There is little time to right the ship and change direction.
Gone are the dark days last spring when Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare. It appeared they couldn’t agree on anything. Since that time, the tax cuts were passed and harmony has returned to the party.
What appeared to be an oncoming wave for the Democrats this November has discernably stalled. Trump’s approval rating hit a low of 33 percent in the Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll on Dec. 13, a week before Congress passed the final version of the tax package. That has now changed dramatically almost overnight as the American people begin to burrow through the largely negative media stories on his administration.
The stark facts for the Democrats are this: They need a net gain of 24 seats to recapture control of the House and two seats to win back the Senate. That looked very likely two months ago, if polls were believable. There was talk of picking up 40 seats in the House.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a former NRCC chairman, believes Democrats made a tactical mistake by taking a hard stance against the tax bill. It passed the Senate and House without a single Democratic vote in either chamber. Now with its early success and popularity among a majority of Americans, the perception is that not a single Democrat voted for it.
It appears soundbites alone are damaging Democrats. They appear aristocratic and out-of-touch. For instance, upon the tax bill being passed, Majority House Leader Nancy Pelosi remarked that $1,000 less in tax payments was not a lot. As Walden pointed out, “The Democrats have completely overplayed their hand. When Nancy Pelosi says $1,000 or $2,000 is ‘crumbs,’ people in West Virginia, rural Oregon go, ‘$1000 is a lot of money to me.'”
Perception is a big factor in elections. The Democrats have spent an inordinate amount of their political energy demonizing Donald Trump. It now appears that his campaign promises and direct action on a number of fronts both foreign and domestic are resonating.
Walden may have said it best; “Let’s face it: in the last two cycles you had a 247-seat majority and 241-seat majority. Those are the biggest Republican back-to-back majorities in the history of the country,” he said. “It’s holding in a time like this. The marginal gain is limited.”
Are the Democrats becoming more realistic? Will their tone go from hating Trump 24/7 to actual policy discussion and possible cooperation on some legislative items? If the polls are any indicator of the electorate’s mood, the tide has turned. Unemployment is at record lows, new jobs are in the millions and corporations are investing in America like never before.
Hating Trump isn’t working anymore.