- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Breaking news: Democrats will crush Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

That’s what all the political pundits say — and the pollsters. Sure, these are the same pollsters who gave Hillary Clinton a 99.9 percent chance of winning the White House in 2016, but now they insist they’re right this time.

But they’re not. Not even close.

For the past few months, the mainstream media has run story after story selling the idea that Democrats are poised for big gains in the House and Senate come November. Their premise: Everybody hates President Trump (well, everybody they know, so that means everybody, right?) so Democrats just need to show up, have a pulse, and whoosh, they’ll be elected to Congress.

But here’s the thing: Just like in 2016, the pundits and pollsters are missing the forest for the trees. Yes, even diehard Republicans were skeptical about Mr. Trump as president, with many voting for him simply to keep Mrs. Clinton out of the White House. But then the reality TV star turned politician showed he could be pretty good at being president.

Here are a few facts that have changed the dynamics in the last few months:

Mr. Trump’s favorability numbers have been rising steadily, and he’s been doing the kinds of things that make voters happy. An across-the-board tax cut — the benefits of which Americans have begun to reap — is always a crowd pleaser.

Skeptics were most worried that Mr. Trump couldn’t handle foreign policy, then he kicked China in the derriere over trade and, poof, a whole new amiable China. His tough talk on North Korea has also paid off — the rogue nation is now prepared to put away its nuclear ambitions and possibly even agree to an end of the Korean War.

The economy is growing by leaps and bounds and unemployment has plunged to 3.9 percent, the lowest it’s been in decades. Companies are hiring, wages are rising and optimism is spreading across America.

“More than 8 in 10 voters (84 percent) say the economy will be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to their votes,” a new CNN poll found. Sadly, the network that supported Mrs. Clinton throughout the 2016 election had to admit: “the less that people see the 2018 election as a straight referendum on Trump, the better for Republican chances.”

Meanwhile, the same poll said Republicans “are getting more interested in the 2018 election. In March, just 1 in 3 GOPers (and GOP-leaning independents) said they were ‘very enthusiastic’ about the midterms. That number is up to 44 percent in the new CNN survey.” Look for that to rise by Election Day.

Plus, the task is tough for Democrats. Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles Project, points out that Democrats need to flip a net 24 seats to take over the House. That’s possible, say the liberal pundits and pollsters, as there are 23 Republican-held districts that voted for Mrs. Clinton in 2016. But Mr. Schilling doesn’t think it’ll happen.

“Even if the Democrats performed incredibly well in these 23 districts — let’s say they win 17 of them — they would need to flip an additional 13 seats in Trump-won districts, while also protecting every Democratic incumbent,” he wrote in The Hill.

On the other side of the ledger, support for Democrats is flagging, a poll by Zogby Analytics finds.

“Support for Democrats is down among millennials, blacks, and so-called Walmart and NASCAR voters,” Zogby reports. Democrats have “lost more than 10 percent of support among voters aged 18-50, 14 percent among millennials aged 18-29” and more than 20 percent of support among black voters. Overall, support for Democrats has dropped from 44 percent to 40 percent over the course of several months.

To make matters worse, 78-year-old Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is out there saying she plans to be the next speaker when the Democrats take over. Oh, and she wants everyone to know that she’ll push for the repeal of the tax cuts Mr. Trump signed into law.

So it’s not all gravy for Democrats come November. One political pundit even predicts Republicans will have a good night on Election Day. Former Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris said Democrats are “overplaying their hand” by going after Mr. Trump over lawyer Michael Cohen and porn actress Stormy Daniels.

“I think that they see fool’s gold in these scandals,” Mr. Morris said. “They’re putting everything behind the Stormy Daniels scandal and Michael Cohen and the country doesn’t give a damn.”

And Mr. Morris adds: “There is no blue wave coming. There is a red wave. And what makes it red is the blood of the Democratic Party.”

But that means all those pundits and pollsters are wrong.

Yup, sounds about right.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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