The Republican Party is in trouble for midterm elections in 2018 if Donald Trump’s approval rating continues to sink and political formulas stay the course of history. The historical stream of consciousness in American politics is that when it comes to expectations for midterms, most presidents should expect to lose approximately 20 seats from their party in the House of Representatives. That has happened with most presidents, regardless of their party line.
But another common historical political formula is that when a president has historically low approval ratings, he should expect to lose even more seats for his party in the House come midterms. The Independent reports that Donald Trump’s approval rating today has sunk lower than President George W. Bush’s did after Hurricane Katrina, which was President Bush’s lowest point in his presidency.
Trump’s approval rating today has sunk to 36 percent, with 55 percent disapproving of Donald Trump’s Puerto Rico performance. The Independent reports that is up from one week ago when disapproval sat at 49 percent. Approval ratings of Trump after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey hovered around the 57 percent mark in both Florida and Texas, with a considerable drop in approval ratings following Puerto Rico.
That’s good news for Democrats looking ahead to midterms and elections in 2018, as they are already facing a very complicated congressional electoral map. But so too are the Republicans. The Republicans are going in facing an uphill battle, as very little has been done from a legislative standpoint, beyond a myriad of court and legal battles over their presidential pick’s executive orders.
The Republicans are also working with a president who has upset many of his own voters for a variety of different reasons.
The Independent reports that at about this point in the Bush presidency after Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush’s approval rating was 44 percent. The Gallup Presidential Tracker reports that on Day 274 of office, George W. Bush had an approval rating of 87 percent.
Today, it is Day 266 of being in office for Trump, and Trump’s is 36 percent, or 39 percent on Gallup. President Bush’s approval rating was 29 percent by the time he finished his presidency, and many have historically slated Hurricane Katrina as the reason why.
An NBC News report from August analyzed the possible effect on midterm elections for a sitting presidency, when Trump’s approval rating ranged between 36 and 40 percent across three networks. NBC reported on the direct correlation between approval rating and midterms.
“Since the Truman Era, a president’s party loses more than 28 House seats in his first midterm election.”
If Democrats want to turn Congress blue — and they do — they will need to take 24 seats. CNBC News reports in an August 2017 report that a president loses “on average” 25 seats from his party in the House, as well as four Senate seats. CNBC notes that in an election year where both chambers of Congress are controlled by one party, the president should expect to lose even more than 25, as the party is unable to deflect their flaws and deficiencies to the other party.
CNBC also notes that when a presidential approval rating is less than 50 percent, the president should expect to lose more — on average, 36 House seats and 5.8 Senate seats at midterms.
In an analysis of midterms over seven election cycles, or 28 years, the president lost 41 House seats and 6.4 Senate seats. Four of those times the House flipped, and three of those four times the Senate did as well.
In a completely predictable election world of political science, elections and congressional scholar Gary Jacobson says there is “no way the Republicans hold onto the House.”
But America has just undergone an election cycle unlike any other ever formulated in the annals of political science. Donald Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, and with that many say the mandate to lead. As such he’s been unable to get anything done while in office, despite having won the Oval Office on low approval ratings.
In other words, he beat the odds with low approval ratings. Whether lightning will strike twice in that regard and establish new political science formulas remains to be seen. Each party has its own list of pros and cons, and things they need to work in if they want to work the win in the 2018 midterms elections.
One variable in political science will not change: One party is working to keep the House, the other is working to flip it. The impact of Donald Trump’s historically and consistently low approval ratings remains to be seen.
Something from a legislative standpoint is going to have to happen if he doesn’t want his low approval ratings to impact upcoming House races. And already that is a problem for him, the party, and on down the ballot.
States he won during the 2016 presidential election are now dropping in their approval of him as well. If there’s a contentious House seat in any of those states, that’s a problem, for Republicans, and another door open for Democrats. Vox reports that the three states that won him the electoral map — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — are all dipping in their approvals of him since the election.
Donald Trump will always have “deep pockets” of supporters and a base that will never go away. But they do seem to be getting smaller in number every day.
Whether the people upset with Donald Trump will impact the 2018 midterms remains to be seen. But CNN has learned of a “very grim picture for incumbents” for 2018, and that American voters are ready for a change in Congress.
In a CNN national poll, only 22 percent of voters said they felt this Congress deserved to be re-elected, and 68 percent said they think this Congress needs to go. Even more interesting was the statistic that only three in 10 Republicans want to see the current Congress re-elected. CNN further reports that bipartisan Inside Elections has noted that “at least” 48 Republican-held seats are in jeopardy come midterms, against 14 Democratic seats.
CNN reports that “way out in the ocean” a Democratic “wave” is building. However, it is not just distaste or disapproval of Donald Trump that is giving wind into that wave. What’s been happening — or rather, not happening — on the legislative front since the election is putting many GOP strongholds in jeopardy.
Cook Political Report notes that there is indeed some Democratic momentum for Democrats to be excited about, and they have changed their ratings in 12 House races this week. Some new Democratic blood is arriving on the scene at midterms and will be part of that reason, but mistakes made by current representatives could cost them come midterms.
Republican Rep. Martha McSally for Arizona’s second district won her seat in a district that Hillary Clinton won by five points. But voting for the House GOP repeal and replace health care bill could cost her come midterms. She’s got some tough competition as well with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who lost to John McCain in 2016 but now has the support of former Congress member Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Another Republican seat that is found in the toss-up column is California’s District 48, a seat held by Republican Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher’s position on marijuana policy has helped him to keep the seat. But since Trump took the oath, Dana Rohrabacher has held sympathetic positions on Russia and had suspicious interactions with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, reports Cook Political Report.
Cook Report says that this seat could be one of Democrats’ best, and could be the biggest takeover in midterms. Rohrabacher’s Democratic opponent Hans Keirstead is new to politics and the United States, having only become a citizen in 2008 after moving from Canada.
Alabama seats could see some problems as well, or at least one where a controversial Republican sits now. Former Judge Roy Moore won the special election in Alabama to replace the vacated seat of Senator Jeff Sessions, who became the attorney general. However, keeping that seat could be a problem for him due to some controversies, reports FiveThirtyEight.
One controversy occurred when Roy Moore used the phrase “reds and yellows” to describe people in what was considered a racist slur. He then went to Twitter to defend his remarks, saying the terms were “gospel.”
But the words that he quoted were not actually gospel and were instead the words of a Sunday school song for children. Additionally, Moore’s controversies include being removed from the state Supreme Court bench twice for not complying with court orders. Whether a low Trump approval rating could impact that race remains to be seen.
These are just a few of the competitive races coming up in midterms and elections in 2018. Fundraising and campaigning have already begun for both parties.
Democrats are being very careful to avoid naming Donald Trump directly in their upcoming midterm campaigns, which have already started. Instead, following a historically acrimonious election cycle in 2016, they are taking the “When they go low, we go high” approach. In this sense, that means going high by taking shots at the GOP leadership.
It’s a tactic employed by the Republican camp as well, and is reportedly colloquially known as “getting Pelosi’d.” Republicans aiming shots at the Dems will routinely put the candidate of choice against a photo of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
They’ll warn their voters to stay away from anyone that shares Nancy Pelosi’s “San Francisco” values as if those values are a plague or curse. Nancy’s values are always humanistic, along with most other Democrats.
Even so, Nancy Pelosi has approval rating issues of her own. However, they are not as low as Donald Trump’s.
Approval ratings within the entire Trump family are in the same range as Donald Trump’s, with Melania Trump being the most popular Trump. In a separate report, CNN notes that Melania Trump’s approval rating is 44 percent, Ivanka Trump’s is 41 percent, and Jared Kushner’s is 20 percent.
[Feature Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]