In a mere nine months, the Congressional political landscape could look entirely different or remain mostly the same. With 33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats hanging in the balance, the campaign season is beginning to take shape in what will be one of the most important election seasons for both respective political parties in modern times.
For Republicans, the elections are most imperative. The most recent FOX News Presidential approval poll places President Trump at a 45 percent approval rating, up from the past few months. This still places him below the 50 percent threshold, and Congressional approval sits at about 16 percent according to RealClearPolitics.
Recently, President Trump’s early deadlock with Congress in the implementation of his campaign agenda has been mitigated, with successes such as tax reform and the repeal of the individual mandate. However, uphill legislative battles such as immigration and healthcare reform will require a conservative Congress for even a chance of legislative success.
For Republicans, the House seems to be the safer of two divisions of Congress, as many races boast strong Republican candidates in districts that leaned toward President Trump in the 2016 elections. While some seats remain questionable in the House, Republicans have a much more imperative concern: The Senate.
26 Democratic Senate seats will be contested, while only eight Republicans will be challenged. Of the eight Republican seats, four will be undoubtedly safe (TX, UT, WY, AL) and the rest will be more difficult to retain (AR, MS, NB, NV). Democrats will most likely be safe in 16 of their 26 seats, but those 10 outliers are where the real game will be played. The 10 risky Democratic Senate seats are in states that President Trump won in the 2016 election. The question is whether or not the Senate seats will flip to Republicans, increasing their current Senate majority, or remain Democratic. Even if only a few seats flip, it could mean much more wiggle-room for Republican Congressional leadership in implementing their agenda.
For Democrats, much is at stake as well. Since Trump’s election, the Democratic platform has been almost entirely about resistance to the President’s agenda. Democratic voters are angry and energized to topple Republicans at all levels of government. The outlying factor is who they can convince to join their cause.
Democrats may be able to ride the emotional wave to victory, but their chances of flipping both houses of Congress are slim, at best. A recent Wall Street Journal report indicates that the percentage of voters wanting Democrats to win in 2018 is decreasing, even stating that the Democratic advantage decreased by half between December and January.
Another big concern for Democrats is money. While there are many other factors that contribute to a successful campaign, it takes fundraising to win, and the RNC has a huge advantage at the moment. It has been reported that Democrats did tighten the gap in the final quarter of 2017, however Republicans vastly out-raised Democrats ahead of the 2018 elections. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel raised some $289 million through donors, PACs, and committees. The DNC raised an embarrassing $64.5 million.
Much is at stake come November, and the future direction of national policy depends on the results.