SPOTLIGHT

A Midterm Reality Check

Democrats just received some more positive signs.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, looks out into the crowd as he speaks at the 2018 House and Senate Republican Member Conference at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
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Kyle Trygstad
Feb. 21, 2018, 8:14 a.m.

Just when a narrative was starting to take hold that a midterm wave could be slipping from the Democrats’ fingers, a few more data points emerged early this week to remind both parties that the election year is still young.

Despite the finger-pointing in the Democratic Party and rising Republican hopes that the tax code overhaul will be their party’s saving grace, Democrats just picked up another GOP-held state legislative seat (this one, in Kentucky, President Trump carried with 72 percent), Quinnipiac released a poll showing Democrats with a 15-point lead on the generic ballot, and a new Pennsylvania map made half a dozen districts more competitive for Democrats.

All of these things, combined with the number of well-funded Democrats running in House races across the country, the enthusiasm gap witnessed in special elections and state races over the past year, and Trump’s still-dismal 42 percent approval rating in the RCP average, are why it’s premature to look at a few polls more than eight months before Election Day and assume we just hit a pivot point.

Democrats’ concerns about having an economic message to counteract the Republican tax-cut sales pitch are warranted, and GOP donors opening their wallets in the wake of the law’s passage is significant. But, here in mid-February, the cycle is still ripe for wave conditions.

Kyle Trygstad

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