Photo credit: House Democrats via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

An Inconvenient Truth: The Democrats Can’t Win the House in 2018


If the #Resist movement wants to have a shot at stopping President Trump and the GOP from passing its conservative agenda, they will need the Democrats to win the House of Representatives in 2018.

As we have covered at The National Pulse previously, winning the Senate is too steep a hill to climb for Democrats. There are just two GOP senators in peril in 2018 — Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — while there are ten Democratic senators up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016. With the GOP currently possessing a 52-48 majority, it seems highly unlikely that the Democrats would be able to take back control.

But the House is up in the air every two years, with all 435 members up for re-election, and many hopeful liberal pundits have speculated that the Democrats could take back the House.

Before you start getting antsy, let me assuage your concerns, The National Pulse readers. That pipe dream is unlikely to happen.

Throughout 2017, the Democrats have been searching for a spark to excite their base and motivate independents to get out to the polls to oppose Trump’s party, but they continue to fail, losing special election after special election. As The National Pulse‘s Frank Cannon explained after Democrat Jon Ossoff’s excruciating defeat last week in the Georgia 6th district:

…[T]here are only 27 GOP-held districts in which Trump had a smaller 2016 vote share than in Georgia’s 6th district. For the Democrats to take back the House, they would need to flip 24 of them. That’s going to be very hard to do when they couldn’t even “flip the sixth” when they had the ideal scenario for victory staring them straight in the face.

This House math looks an awful lot like the impossible Senate math. If the Democrats can’t win a race like the Georgia 6th — where Trump only won by 1.5 points in 2016, where they raised and spent more than $30 million, and where they had the opportunity to run against a Republican who didn’t have incumbency advantage — where are they supposed to win?

In each of the 27 districts that are “more favorable” to the Democrats than Georgia-6, the Democrats will be up against an incumbent Republican with a war chest of funds. Winning those races won’t be easy. Can the Democrats really go 24-3 in those races, while also holding on to every currently held Democrat seat?

James Hohmann, a respected journalist for The Washington Post, echoed this point this morning:

The opposition party needs to win 24 seats to take control of the House in 2018. Understandably, operatives and handicappers have focused on the 23 districts that Republicans hold, which voted for Hillary Clinton last year. But some of the incumbents are very popular, with brands that are distinct from Trump’s, and they are unlikely to lose no matter how bad the headwinds become.

In other words, it’s inconceivable that Democrats run the table in those 23 districts. Even if they did, they’d still be one short. And Democrats must defend 12 seats in districts that Trump carried in 2016.

Betting markets haven’t really caught on to this sobering reality for Democrats yet. As of this writing, PredictIt still gives the Democrats a 48 percent chance of winning the House. But for that to happen, the political landscape would need to change dramatically.

It is obviously within the realm of possibility — given what happened in 2016, it would be malpractice to say otherwise — but a Nancy Pelosi-led House in 2019 is becoming more unlikely every day.

Photo credit: House Democrats via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Jon Schweppe

Jon Schweppe is the Director of Government Affairs for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe

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