- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Congressional Republicans have cut their gap with Democrats in half in a poll released Wednesday, as President Trump predicted the GOP will keep its House majority this year by reminding voters about Democrats’ “dangerous” immigration policies.

In the generic ballot for the House, a Quinnipiac University survey found that Democrats lead Republicans 49 percent to 43 percent, with the GOP trailing by 3 percentage point among independents. Two months ago, House Republicans trailed by 13 points in the same poll, including an 11-point deficit among independents.

Republican saw similar gains in the generic Senate matchup. But the Quinnipiac poll aligns with other recent surveys showing that Republicans still trail Democrats overall in voters’ generic preferences for which party should control Congress next year.

The GOP’s improved position came as Mr. Trump told Republican donors that their party will buck the midterm trend and hold onto the House majority in November. The party that holds the White House usually loses seats in the midterms.

“We’re going to defy the predictions once again. We will keep the House majority,” Mr. Trump said. “Nobody has ever had an economy like this. Nobody has ever had a military that’s getting so much stronger so fast. Nobody has ever done what we’ve done.”

He said Democrats “think they’re invincible,” and he predicted voters will reject Democrats’ liberal positions on immigration, national security and crime.

“Nowhere is the Democrats’ extremism — nowhere can you see anything displayed more clearly than on immigration,” Mr. Trump said. “A vote for House Democrats is truly a vote for open borders — people pouring into our country. If House Democrats control the committees and control the floor, they will block every single effort to secure our borders and to defend our communities.”

The administration is suing California over its decision to offer illegal immigrants statewide sanctuary from deportation by federal agents. The president said sanctuary cities must become a campaign issue for Republicans.

“Nearly every House Democrat voted in favor of sanctuary cities,” he said. “They voted to release criminal aliens to prey on innocent American lives. Republicans believe our cities should be safe havens for law-abiding Americans, not for criminal aliens or illegal immigrants.”

He said it’s time for Congress “to stop funding sanctuary cities so we can restore the rule of law.”

“The American people are with us,” Mr. Trump said. “Let’s fight to save those incredible American lives.”

Republicans hold a 46-seat advantage in the House, with five vacancies. But about twice as many Republican incumbents are retiring compared with Democrats, giving liberals hope they can win back the House.

Democrats also point to evidence of more candidates and increased turnout, as evidenced by this week’s open primaries in Illinois. The polling and research firm JMC Analytics said Illinois saw an increase in the number of Democratic ballots cast, while Republican ballots generally were down.

Republicans are counting on liberal candidates in the style of Sen. Bernard Sanders to win contested primary races across the country, such in the 7th Congressional District in Texas, where progressive Laura Moser has advanced to a runoff with Lizzie Fletcher for the Democratic nomination. Outside Republican groups are likely to run ads promoting Ms. Moser, viewing her as an easier opponent in the general election for Republican Rep. John Culberson.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has identified nearly 30 House districts nationwide where it believes this dynamic could help the GOP in November, with Democrats nominating candidates who are too liberal for the districts.

The National Republican Campaign Committee has identified nearly 30 House districts nationwide where it believes this dynamic could help the GOP in November, with Democrats nominating candidates who are too liberal for the districts.

But the 79-member Congressional Progressive Caucus pointed to polling this week showing support in 30 swing districts for progressive agenda items such as cheaper prescription drugs, universal healthcare and crackdowns on predatory lenders. The districts are mostly held by Republican incumbents.

Pollster Celinda Lake said in a memo that such progressive policies not only motivate the liberal base, “but make voters more likely to support Democrats.”

CPC vice chairman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Washington Democrat, said the group’s polling “shows running as a bold progressive is a political winner.”

Mr. Trump said told Republican donors Tuesday night in Washington that the GOP must hammer home the campaign theme of Democrats being out of touch with the average American voters.

“On issue after issue, House Democrats are way outside of the American mainstream,” Mr. Trump said. “These days, there’s no such thing as a blue dog Democrat, a red state Democrat, or a conservative Democrat because they are all Pelosi Democrats — weak on crime, weak on terrorism, and weak on national defense. Democrats like to campaign as moderates, but they always govern like radicals.”

He said the GOP “must tell the truth over and over again — a vote for a House Democrat is a vote for higher taxes, open borders, and the destruction of American jobs and American wealth.”

“It’s also the destruction of the American dream. It’s a dream, and they’re destroying that beautiful dream,” Mr. Trump said.

χ Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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