After the chaos of Donald Trump’s first year in the White House, liberals are casting eager eyes toward the 2018 midterms. If they can reclaim a majority in the House, Democrats will send a clear message that Trumpian politics are not a long-term solution for the Republican Party.
But, even in dire political times, the path toward victory in the House looks difficult for Democrats. (And they can pretty much forget about retaking the Senate.) They currently hold 194 of the 435 seats in the House, so they will need to steal 24 seats currently held by Republicans to regain control.
One clear solution is to look at Republican-held districts where Hillary Clinton performed well in the 2016 election. There are 23 such districts, and about a third of them are in California, which is why California is shaping up to be the important state to watch in the next year.
However, by this same logic, Democrats will be on the defense in 12 of their own districts where voters chose Trump in 2016.
Plus, even if Democrats could reclaim those seats in the 23 districts where Clinton performed well, they would still be one seat short of the 24 needed to gain control. For this reason, they need to look to other strategies as well.
A ray of hope can be found in the fact that about twice as many Republicans have announced they will not be running again in 2018 as Democrats. Generally, incumbents have a keen advantage, so the fact that fewer Democrats are retiring provides them with a slight boost.
Other big picture factors are helping Democrats. It is a good sign that Donald Trump’s approval rating is a pitiful 35%.
Historically, the party in control of the White House does not perform well during midterm elections. Also, the recent wins by Democrats in special elections in Virginia and New Jersey were positive developments. These wins resulted from high turnout and a diverse slate of candidates. Turnout is generally low in midterm elections, and rock bottom in special elections, so if Democrats can work the same magic across the country as they did in Virginia and New Jersey, then their efforts may just bear fruit.
The 2018 midterms are by no means in the bag for Democrats, but with enough effort, they may be able to pull off a win. As the new year approaches, concerned citizens everywhere will need to commit to helping Democratic candidates through donations and volunteer energy. Join groups like Swing Left, Indivisible, or MoveOn.org to find out how you can help secure the win.