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RCP’s Election Analyst Says Not So Fast on Blue Wave: Republicans’ Chances Have Improved ‘Dramatically’

For months, buzz has grown that the midterm elections would end up in a huge reversal of fortune and see the House change hands. But there is evidence now that the blue wave may more aptly describe the hype than the actual trend, as RealClearPolitics’ Sean Trende discussed with Griff Jenkins on Fox & Friends on Monday.

Griff began by quoting the following from Trende’s RCP article last last week. “Six months is several lifetimes in politics,” he read. “But there is little doubt that the Republicans’ chances have improved over the past five months, perhaps dramatically so.”

The move is not necessarily toward any Republican gains, but could be a dead heat, says Trende. Though he adds it could tip slightly toward Rs.

Griff: Listen, the president’s approval rating is up. We’ll just put it up quickly so you see it if you haven’t already. 42% approve, that is incredibly up from the 30% that most Democrats refer to in recent weeks. Tell me, why are we seeing this approval? And you have about three things you believe we should be looking at right now.

Trende: There’s a couple things going on. I think the good economic news is starting to break through. I think people are starting to question where the Mueller investigation is going. I think it had kept the president down for a while. And I think the tax cuts energized the Republican base and are playing a role in the president’s improving fortunes.

Griff: Now, traditionally it is about 23, 24 seats change hands in these midterm elections. Aside from the environment we’re in, how do you factor in this environment now?

Trende: Well, I think if you looked six months ago, you would say it was doomsday for the Republicans with the Republican down in the 30s, showing a double-digit lead for Democrats. But that’s just not the world we’re in today. The president is up into the low to mid 40s, and his job approval, he generic ballot has closed to a four-point lead for the Democrats, so I think we’ve gone from Democrats being heavy favorites to take the house to something of a dead heat and maybe a thumb on the scale for the Republicans.

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act has played better than democrats expected among Republican voters. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has on several occasions had to walk back or explain her infamous “crumbs” comment, which has caused some issues for other Dems as well. California’s Democratic Party has concerns overall, as the New York Times covered on Monday.

“National Democrats, confronting mushrooming political chaos across Southern California, are pouring millions of dollars into congressional races,” the Times writes, “to avert a self-inflicted disaster that could undermine their chances at taking control of the House.”

Griff and Trende discuss the critical California races as well.

Griff: I don’t know if you saw yesterday a headline on “The new York Times” saying that even California Democrats are feeling the heat out there. They’re worried about the prospects of Republicans actually having amazing results there. What do you make of that?

Trende: No, I think it’s a real concern for the Democrats. They have this top two primary system where everyone runs in the same race, and the top two make it to the election. There’s a lot of Democrats running, they could divide the democratic vote, and you could end up with two Republicans in the general election shutting the Democrats out, which is sort of a nightmare scenario for Democrats.

At Unlikely Voter, Neil Stevens of RedState and Daily Caller has a numeric analysis, and concludes:

Democrats need a big win if they want to return the gavel to Nancy Pelosi. As of now, it doesn’t look like they’re going to do that. They have a bit over five months to turn that around, or if you prefer, Republicans have five months to fritter that away.

As Sean Trende says, six months is a long time, and a lot can change in that amount of time. In fact it has, which is why this new outlook on November is making news.

But there are trends in politics, and right now, those trends could be bad news for hopes of a blue wave. It might even be headed red.

[image via screengrab]

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