Election 2020

Is the GOP House Majority Really in Trouble?

Is the GOP House Majority Really in Trouble?
Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris, right, applauds during a Habitat For Humanity building event in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. Harris is running against democrat Dan McCready in the 9th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

With one week to go before the midterm elections, an avalanche of polls have been released that favor the Democrats. While there are many races still too close to call, Politico reports that their analysis,”based on public and private polling, interviews with strategists from both parties and a POLITICO analysis of TV spending figures,” shows that even the momentum for the GOP generated by the response to the Kavanaugh smears and Trump’s campaign appearances won’t save their House majority.

They indicate a Republican Party, swamped by cash-flush Democratic candidates and outside groups, still losing support among women and suburban voters ahead of the midterms and struggling to bring home voters that helped put the GOP in control of the House for most of the last quarter-century.

“Clearly the Kavanaugh confirmation was an inflection point to activate the Republican base, and even pull over some Democratic men,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant based in California. “But that’s an effect that benefits the Senate and leaves suburban members of Congress stranded. It’s unlikely we won back suburban Orange County voters.”

Suburbs have been trending blue for most of the last decade, so there’s nothing new there. There’s also nothing new in the existence of a gender gap. The flip side of the man/woman split is that more women may vote Democratic, but more men are voting Republican. Unless there’s a huge surprise on election day, the gains made by Democrats with women will end up being a wash because of the loss of male voters.

But forget what the pollsters and media are saying about the election. Look at what the Republican Party is doing these last seven days. And the signs are not good.

Not only are GOP candidates being massively outspent in several key districts, but Republicans running in previously “safe” districts are the beneficiaries of cash from the national party. That simply shouldn’t be happening:

It’s been a decade since Democrats have gained a congressional seat in North Carolina. But Trump came here to stump for Republican Mark Harris last week, underlining how far into GOP territory Democrats have threatened to push this year. The president sounded his favored notes to juice Republican enthusiasm in support of Harris.

“This will be the election of the Kavanaughs and the caravans,” Trump told a crowd of supporters in Charlotte on Friday, urging them to “not take a chance” and be sure to vote for Harris, who defeated GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger in a primary and is now facing Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and businessman.

McCready acknowledged that the race is “dead even” in remarks he delivered to two-dozen campaign volunteers at his campaign office, where the walls are decorated with homemade signs declaring “Trust Dan’s Moral Compass” and “Send in a Marine.” And the National Republican Congressional Committee is airing its first TV ads in the district in the last week of the election, spending nearly $800,000 in a late bid to keep the district.

Trump won the district by 11 points and Pettinger, defeated by the Baptist preacher Harris in the primary, won his 2016 re-election race 58-42. McCready shouldn’t be within shouting distance, but he has outspent Harris by more than 2-1 and finds himself dead even with a week to go.

With Republicans scrambling to defend districts that should already be in the bag, the writing may be on the wall. While the Senate majority appears solid, it appears that GOP control of the House is hanging by a thread and the prospects for success are not good.