I wouldn’t want to be so cynical as to think Trump would launch American missiles to approve his polling numbers, but whatever bump he may have received recently will be, I am sure, short-lived. Unless, of course, he gets used to launching missiles, in which case polling numbers will be the least of anyone’s worries.
Back when Trump’s approval numbers were hovering around 35% – pre-missiles, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell let it be known that “Trump’s low approval ratings could erase the GOP’s structural political advantages heading into 2018.”
By “structural advantages” he meant that Republicans are defending fewer Senate seats in the midterm, and in relatively reddish states, than the Democrats. Almost a dozen Democrats are running for re-election in states that went for Trump in November.
But, as McConnell told the Washington Examiner, that might not mean much if voters think Trump is governing so badly as to need more Democrats in the Senate to check his power.
McConnell’s sage advice is “Don’t fall in love with the map… The map doesn’t win elections.”
History tells us that the party that holds the White House generally loses seats in midterm elections. But Republicans might be in a position to buck that trend and add to their 52-seat Senate majority because most of the expected competitive races are in red states.
There are ten Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won: Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin. There are only two Senate Republicans likely to be vulnerable.
Still, as McConnell notes:
If you look at what happened to [former President] Bill Clinton two years in, what happened to [former President] Barack Obama two years in, I’d like to see the president in better shape politically.
Even with approval numbers closer to 40%, which is what we are seeing this week thanks to America’s infatuation with “war presidents,” Republicans would hardly be sitting pretty in 2018.
And yet we should probably say that Democrats certainly wish they had a better map.