May 8, 2018

Midterms begin today: 5 sobering stats for the House GOP

Mike Allen, author of AM

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As midterm primaries kick into high gear today, here are five signs (all Real Clear Politics averages) that the current headwinds for House Republicans could turn into a throw-out-members wave.

The bottom line: When a party is this badly under water in national sentiment and perception, individual candidates have a hard time distancing or distinguishing themselves. That's why a wave is apparent so early — 182 days before Election Day.

  1. Congressional job approval: -56% (that is: 73% disapprove, 17% approve).
  2. Approval of GOP tax cut: -7% (that is: 44% disapprove, 37% approve).
  3. Direction of the country: -18% (that is: 55% of people think the U.S. is on the wrong track, 37% think the U.S. is headed in the right direction).
  4. Trump job approval: -8 (that is: 52% disapprove, 44% approve).
  5. Generic congressional ballot: Democrats +6 (that is: 45% of respondents say they'll vote for Democrats for Congress, 39% say Republicans).

The state of play: Today's primaries are in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. Per The New York Times' election calendar, there are a number of competitive House races on the line. But much of today's news is likely to focus on the Senate:

  • Three of those states have a vulnerable Democratic senator up for re-election (Joe Donnelly, Indiana; Sherrod Brown, Ohio; and Joe Manchin, West Virginia).
  • And President Trump has already waded into the West Virginia primary, telling GOP voters that electing demagogic Don Blankenship would guarantee Manchin's re-election.

Go deeper: Why the Senate election map is so bad for the Democrats.

Go deeper

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests continued across the country for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, as demonstrators called for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd, EMT Breonna Taylor, jogger Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have suffered at the hands of racism and police brutality.

What's happening: Protestors in D.C. broke one police barricade outside the White House on Sunday evening after reportedly demonstrating for several hours. The atmosphere was still largely peaceful as of 6pm ET.

Trump privately scolded, warned by allies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically.

Behind the scenes: The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women.