Will Democrats win back Congress in 2018? | The Tylt
Will Democrats win back Congress in 2018?
Democrat Conor Lamb pulled out a victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, shocking many Republicans and exciting Democrats going into 2018.
While Republican turnout in a district that Mr. Trump won by 20 percentage points was healthy, Democrats showed once again that they could tap unions and other traditionally friendly groups to get their voters out in droves.
Whether Mr. Lamb holds on to win the House seat matters less than the fact that he was so competitive in the first place. The rebuke of Mr. Trump came from a part of western Pennsylvania that overwhelmingly supported him in 2016 and that typically would not seem likely to turn to a Democrat. The district is seen as so strongly Republican that the Democrats did not even field a candidate in recent years.
While gerrymandering still poses a serious threat to Democrats across the country, party architects Bruce Reed and Rahm Emanuel argue in The Atlantic that Democrats have a good chance of winning in 2018 given the history of midterm elections. Trump's abhorrent behavior and the deeply unpopular GOP tax bill will act as a get-out-the-vote machine for Democrats.
No first-term president has gone into a midterm this unpopular since Harry Truman lost 55 seats in the House and 12 in the Senate in 1946...Democrats don’t need to spend the next year navel-gazing over how to motivate their base. In 2018, Trump will provide the greatest fundraising and get-out-the-vote machine the party has ever had.
Clare Foran takes a slightly more cautious approach to the 2018 midterms. Sure, the Democratic upset in Alabama was remarkable, but Roy Moore was also an alleged child molester and outspoken conspiracy theorist. The conditions of the Alabama race will be hard to replicate. Still, Foran believes Democrats still have a solid chance of taking back Congress in 2018.
A lot could change in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, and it won’t be easy for Democrats to win back both the House and the Senate. The Alabama election showed, however, that once-unthinkable upsets are not just possible for Republicans; they can happen to Democrats too. And the Democratic party isn’t so divided, or hobbled by its past defeats, that it can’t still win.
But critics maintain that while Trump may pose a unique opportunity for Democrats, it will still not be enough for them to retake Congress in 2018. Dan Balz argues in The Washington Post that the numbers are just not in the Democrats' favor―from gerrymandered districts to continued division between the left wing and the more moderate wing of the party.
Democrats see evidence in polls and focus groups of an electorate receptive to moving in their direction [...] But there are other factors that could frustrate the Democrats, from the state of the economy to obstacles created by structural aspects of a polarized electorate to the peculiar ways in which the president defies or at least confounds some traditional measures of public opinion.
Part of this was through redistricting and the success of Republicans in the states to draw lines most favorable to them. Part of it has come through the sorting out of the population. Democrats are now heavily clustered in urban areas; Republicans are spread more evenly elsewhere. That makes it more difficult for Democrats to compete in some congressional districts.
In order for Democrats to flip the House in 2018, they would need a net gain of 24 seats, and as David Wasserman suggests in FiveThirtyEight, the congressional map is extremely biased against them.
Democrats have been cursed by a terrible Senate map in 2018: They must defend 25 of their 48 seats while Republicans must defend just eight of their 52.
Beyond that, there are currently 12 Democrats fighting to hold seats in districts that voted for Trump in 2016. The numerical reality of 2018 poses a major problem to Democrats, but so do divisions within the party. Nearly a year after the 2016 election, the far-left contingent of the party is still hell-bent on pushing extremely progressive candidates and shunning any politician they deem too "corporate."
But according to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats still have a generic ballot advantage over Republicans.