Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Trump Turbocharges Democrats

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Trump Turbocharges Democrats

Article excerpt

The 2018 elections are almost 10 months away -- a lifetime in politics. But this is shaping up as a very good year for the Democrats. If they don't blow it.

Remember, on Election Day 2016, Team Clinton thought they were cruising to victory until the actual returns slammed them in the face. But recent Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama provide a roadmap for success next November: Assemble a coalition of minorities, young people and educated suburbanites, especially women. That same coalition was uninspired by Hillary Clinton and, in some cases, intrigued by Donald Trump, but the president's appalling performance in office has produced the excitement and energy that was lacking in 2016.

"He is absolutely turbocharging the opposition," David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist, said of Trump in the Washington Post. "He is the greatest organizing tool the Democrats could have."

Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican, agreed on ABC's "This Week": "Clearly the Republican Party, my party, is going to experience losses ... I tell my colleagues, look, we're going to be running into a headwind, you've got to be prepared for the worst ... It's going to be a very tough year."

Democrats need a net gain of 24 seats to retake the House (and two in the Senate). On average, in the first off-year election after a president takes office, his party loses 32 Congressional seats. That jumps to 36 if the president's popularity falls below 50 percent, and Trump's favorable rating is sitting at 39.8 percent (according to Real Clear Politics).

Moreover, in a generic ballot, when voters are asked which party's candidate they'll support for Congress, the Democrats lead by an average of 11.4 points. Some of that advantage is dissipated by two factors -- many districts are drawn to help Republicans, and many Democratic votes are wasted in urban areas -- but it's still a sizeable advantage.

It's easy to over-emphasize the meaning of off-year contests, but the governor's race in Virginia and the Senate contest in Alabama assume outsize importance because of their psychological impact. …

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