When Trump walked away form election night with enough votes to secure the Electoral College victory, some of the democrats were struck dumb. Others mounted a futile recount attempt. When that failed, they shifted emphasis to faithless electors. They failed, so they went to protest last week as Congress certified the votes. Now, seeing President Trump as an inevitability, they’re shifting to the 2018 midterm election.
The goal is obvious. If they can energize their base, they can get republicans out of the Senate and House, and effectively strip Trump of the support he’d need to enact his policies. This, at this late date, looks like the best-case scenario for those who oppose Trump.
Yet the optimism energizing democrats now may prove just as ephemeral as their support for Hillary.
In 2018, 33 Senators will be up for reelction. Only eight of those seats are held by republicans. Democrats will need to win all of their reelections–all 25–and win some of the seats held by republicans, too.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has taken a critical look at the issue:
[Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)] was the only one of the eight Republicans up for reelection in 2018 in a state that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential race. Of the other seven states where Republicans are expected to seek reelection, only two — Arizona (Donald Trump +4) and Texas (Trump +9) were even single digit winning margins for the president-elect. The remaining five states — Mississippi (Trump +18.6), Nebraska (Trump +26), Tennessee (Trump +26), Utah (Trump +18) and Wyoming (Trump +57.6) — are among the most Republican in the country, meaning that even if there was a surprise retirement (Orrin Hatch in Utah, at age 84, for example) it would be almost impossible for Democrats to seriously compete.
In other words, Trump voters have the upper hand in almost all of these races.
And what about the Democrats?
By contrast, 10 Democratic Senators are running for reelection in states Trump carried last November. Trump won half of those states — Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia — by double digits. That means that 20 percent of all Democratic seats up in 2018 are in states Trump won by double digits and 40 percent are in states that the president-elect carried last November.
This highlights the changing electoral map. Trump was predicted to lose big in some places that he ended up winning.
What does all of this mean? Good news for Trump. If there is an even bigger group of republicans in control in 2018, the last two years of Trump’s first term will be all-but filibuster free. There would be little democratic lawmakers could do to stem the Trump tide.