The leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties said that they’re not taking history for granted two months out from midterms and are trying to put forth extensive ground operations in key races.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel told CBS’ Face the Nation the party is aware of historical trends in which the party in power loses House seats, but said they’re focused on “defying history” by potentially picking up a seat in the Senate.
“On the House, we have a lot of seats in the margin. Absolutely, we’ve had an unprecedented amount of retirements. And that has made it harder in some of these swing districts. But right now I’d say it’s 50-50,” she said. “We are out every day working. The RNC has raised to date $250 million. We’ve put 549 staff on the ground. We’ve trained 20,000 field organizers. That’s four times more than we did in 2016. So our infrastructure to turn out our vote, to engage with our voters, to talk to them about these results is the best it has ever been in the midterms.”
“Now, candidates matter, and that’s going to be different in every single race and we need these candidates to talk about their local issues, go out there, they have to work as hard as they’ve ever worked,” she added. “Candidates who think that they’re in safe districts, they’re going to have to give everything. And we’re going to be there backing it up at the RNC.”
To win the majority in the House, Democrats will need to keep 194 seats currently held and flip 24 seats that are currently Republican.
DNC Chairman Tom Perez told CBS that he knows a “blue wave” isn’t guaranteed because “progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.”
“I feel excited because we’re organizing everywhere. We’re fielding great candidates everywhere. You see the energy out there. Democratic turnout in the primaries in 2018 has been up 84 percent from 2014. And so you see that out there,” he said. “…People are enthusiastic because we’re fighting for the issues they care about.”
Perez framed it as “not simply an election about right versus left” but “an election about right versus wrong.”
“I worked at DOJ for 13 years. A president does not tell the Justice Department who and who not to prosecute. That is wrong. The president of the United States should not believe the former chief of the KGB over our intelligence community. We shouldn’t rip children from parents,” he added. “This is about all those critical issues of health care, but it’s also about who we are as a nation. Our democracy’s on the ballot.”
Asked if the election is essentially about putting Trump on the ballot, Perez replied, “This president has undermined basic principles of our democracy. Presidents should unite. They shouldn’t divide.”
Perez said he welcomed former President Obama on the campaign trail because “the world is upside down” in the first two years of the Trump administration, from foreign policy and trade to “gasoline has gone up 50 cents and your cost of prescription drugs have gone up immensely because they’re not taking on the industry.”
He also sought to tamp down wins by progressive candidates defining the direction of the party, declaring, “Conor Lamb is the future of the party. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the future of the party. Doug Jones is the future of the party. We have a party that reflects America and every ZIP code.”
The Democratic Party will be “working next week to call on businesses to give two hours of paid leave for people so that they can get out there and vote,” and Perez said he would call on McDaniel to support the effort to “make sure that every eligible person can get out there and vote.”