If House Republicans are to overcome the various worrisome trends and warning signs we've been covering and manage to beat the odds by retaining control of the lower chamber in the November elections, they'll need to brew up something of a perfect storm: A strong economy, improved job approval numbers for the president, and a much more energized base -- perhaps courtesy of impeachment fears, a major catalyzing event, and a polarizing political foil on the other side.
One of the ways that a Democrat flipped a Trump-dominated district in southwestern Pennsylvania earlier this year was by dramatically distancing himself from unpopular party leader Nancy Pelosi. He and similarly-situated Democrats are trying to reassure voters that if their party takes control, they will help install fresh leadership. Many Republicans have been fashioning campaign strategies around attacking Pelosi, so opening up significant daylight between the widely-disliked San Francisco liberal and rank-and-file Democratic candidates from other parts of the country has been seen as a potential disruption to those carefully-laid plans. If only someone could pipe up and give the GOP's central attack line a lift...
Nancy Pelosi wants you to know she’s not going anywhere. Despite grumblings from some Democrats and dismal approval ratings, the House minority leader aims to keep an iron grip on her leadership role, saying in an interview Tuesday that she fully intends to lead House Democrats if they recapture control of the chamber in November, as many prognosticators believe is likely. “We will win. I will run for speaker. I feel confident about it. And my members do, too,” Pelosi told a meeting of Globe reporters and editors. She was in Boston for a Democratic fund-raiser hosted by Representative Katherine Clark...“It’s important that it not be five white guys at the table, no offense,” Pelosi said, referring to the top two leadership spots in the House and Senate and the presidency. “I have no intention of walking away from that table.”...Pelosi’s determination to hang on could not delight Republicans more. The GOP, desperate to stave off a blue wave in November, is pounding Democrats in swing districts by linking them to the 78-year-old former speaker...And some in her own party are scrambling to disavow her.
I'm in this for the long haul, she vowed to Massachusetts liberals, sprinkling in some identity politics as a warning shot, effectively promising to use hardball tactics to maintain her grasp on power. All the disavowals in the world can't change the fact that she believes the math within her caucus will break in her direction, and even those Democrats who vote for another leader will end up voting along with Pelosi nearly all of the time (the same criticism applies to red state Democratic Senate incumbents and Chuck Schumer). Here's the National Republican Congressional Committee's Communications Director breathing a public sigh of relief over Pelosi's unambiguous, defiant pledge:
Nancy Pelosi says she will run for speaker if Democrats win the House – which is just what Republicans wanted to hearhttps://t.co/Qn1HjzpB92— Matt Gorman (@mattsgorman) May 2, 2018
Pelosi remains deep underwater in public favorability (the same is true of all major Congressional leaders, but she occupies an unique niche as a lighting rod) and despite being a ruthless vote-whipper, her messaging is off-putting and tone-deaf to large swaths of the country. As for some of those other metrics I mentioned above, here's another small step forward vis-a-vis the president's approval rating:
New Trump approval polls this morning from Rasmussen (49%) and Economist (44%) push Trump's average RCP approval rating up a bit higher to 43.5% - last time was this high was May 3, 2017.— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) May 2, 2018
Clearly some some sort of mini-bounce going on. From North Korea news last week?
In that same Economist/YouGov poll, which contains lots of ugly numbers for Republicans, the generic Congressional ballot is looking...awfully tight, actually:
Economist/YouGov 2018 Generic Congressional Ballot:— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 2, 2018
Dems 42 (+3)
Lots of undecideds. pic.twitter.com/IQduF7ESx9
The X factors here, obviously, are turnout and where those undecideds end up. Late-breakers helped fuel massive Republican sweeps in 2010 and 2014, it must be said -- so while this survey's three-point spread should be relatively encouraging for the GOP, history suggests they're still behind the eight ball. If the country is generally dissatisfied and the party in power's president is even relatively unpopular, that's not a strong spot to occupy heading into the midterms. But there's plenty of time between now and the fall, and Trump has defied the laws of political gravity before. Will he do so again?