Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

With the midterms 100 days from today, control of Congress — much like everything in politics, media and culture these days — will come down one thing: Trump. 

The big questions: Can Democrats turn Trump venting into anti-Trump voting? And does the Trump bag of tricks — bashing immigration, the media, witch hunts and the MS-13 gang — work for local Republicans, who'll need Trump-like turnout? 

Trump, of course, wants it to be about Trump, telling Fox News' Sean Hannity that he plans to campaign "six or seven days a week when we're 60 days out" — just after Labor Day.

  • And so do Dems. In this year's opening wave of ads for Congress, Trump was mentioned in nearly 40% of GOP ads — and in 27% of Democratic ads, USA Today reported using data from Kantar Media.

The Boston Globe's Matt Viser found the same phenomenon in ads for Florida governor and elsewhere — nationally, more than a quarter of political ads mention Trump.

  • Ken Goldstein, a professor at the University of San Francisco who has done extensive research on political ads, told Viser this is a perfect storm for presidential mentions: “In 2002 you had pro-incumbent president ads. In 2010, it was all anti-incumbent president ads. And then this year, it’s both.”

National Journal's Josh Kraushaar notes the president's winning record with primary endorsements:

  • "Trump is the GOP’s King Midas, turning even some underwhelming candidates into unbeatable juggernauts — at least among rank-and-file Republican voters."

But here's one of the reasons Dems are favored to take the House: For some vulnerable Republicans running in swing districts, not only does the Trump bag of tricks not work for them, they believe it actively hurts them.

  • Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents part of Miami-Dade County, is a good example. He has quietly made it known to the White House he wants the president nowhere near his district. He's proposed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, and committed other Trumpian apostasies like enthusiastically supporting Dreamers.
  • The White House is dealing with this problem by dispatching Vice President Pence to House districts throughout the country, and saving Trump for big rallies in places where he remains popular and can make a difference by revving up the base.

This summer, Hurricane Trump has become a net negative for more Rs:

  • A top Republican operative tells me: "Last month we would have kept the House. Last 30 days have been bad. Will always be a lot about Trump, which is OK, but can't be like [the] last month."
  • "Kids at border and Putin created so much noise [that it was] impossible for anything else to get through. Before that, we could have a conversation and offer a choice for November."

Be smart: Trump's approval rating in his own party is a lofty 88% — nearly a record at this point in a presidency. So he's definitely a turnout asset. But given how divisive he is, he just happens to be a turnout asset for both sides.

Go deeper

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.