Jan 14, 2018

Trump's nightmare

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Trump's day of reckoning ... The one thing that could dramatically diminish President Trump’s chances of avoiding impeachment and chalking up legislative wins is Democrats winning the House.

  • And, thanks to series of recent developments, Trump knows this no longer just seems plausible, but probable.
  • Hill sources tell us that a House Democratic takeover is now likely.
  • One strategist close to Republican leaders believes that a loss of the House is "baked in," and said top Republicans don't see a way to avoid it.
  • It would take a flip of 24 seats for Dems to take over. The average loss for the president's party in his first midterm is about 32 seats, and we're hearing forecasts of 40+ losses.

You can’t predict outcomes this far out, but these hard facts scare the hell out of Republicans: 

  • Eight House GOP chairs have retired: You don’t climb to the top of power in Congress and leave unless you feel confident your reign will soon end. (Another factor: Chairmanships are term-limited from a Gingrich-era reform.)
  • Record retirements for GOP: Already, 29 GOP seats are open, a pace far exceeding the past two elections that saw power change hands. 
  • Democrats outperformed their norms in turnout, and in total votes, in all seven 2017 elections. This is a clear indicator of energy. 
  • Record number of Democratic women voting and considering running for office. This, more than anything, is a reaction to Trump and the #MeToo movement. 
  • In polls, voters prefer Democrats for Congress by a 10-point margin. There is no way to spin this: +10 is terrible in a 50/50 nation.

Be smart: Republicans typically hold a built-in advantage in House elections in modern politics. The reason: a combo of congressional districts designed for a GOP edge + the fact that old, white voters outperform in off-year elections because they actually vote. But Democratic momentum looks like it could drench the map. 

The takeaway: With a Democratic House, Trump faces not only a high risk of impeachment proceedings, but hostile chairs with subpoena power who can tie up the administration with hearings and document requests.

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