This is a submitted editorial by Lonny Leitner
When President Trump won the White House last November, the Republican Party took control of both the U.S. House and Senate. Republicans currently hold 34 of 50 governorships and the GOP controls the governorship as well as both houses of the state legislature in 24 states. In fact, approximately half of Americans live in states with Republican control. This compares to less than a quarter of our nation’s citizens living in states under Democratic control. These realities suggest a favorable outcome for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.
While GOP majorities and leadership have undoubtedly contributed to the successful passage of the tax reform bill, strong jobs market, and overall economic health, these victories will not be enough to ensure victory in 2018. After the recent Republican Senate loss in Alabama, Democrats only need to pick up two seats to seize control next November. With Senate seats in Arizona, Tennessee, and Nevada are all in play, this is a definite possibility.
All 435 seats in the House will be on the ballot in 2018. Republicans currently hold 239 seats while the Democrats claim 194. Although this seems like a comfortable margin, consider this fact. In the last 60 years, control of the House has changed just three times. However, in each of these instances control changed hands during midterm elections. In all cases, it was away from the president’s party.
Whatever your opinion of the President, Trump’s low approval ratings rival those of Harry Truman heading into the 1946 midterm elections. That year, the president’s party lost 55 seats in the House and another 12 in the Senate. To use a more recent cautionary tale, during Barack Obama’s eight years in office, the Democratic Party suffered historic losses at all levels of government. This included 958 state legislative seats, 9 seats in the US Senate and 62 in the House of Representatives. Obama’s tenure also saw the loss of 10 governorships, bringing the total to 1,042 seats surrendered to the opposing party.
Republicans cannot afford to rest on their laurels heading into the 2018 midterm elections. Instead, we need to fight like hell to staunch the bleeding caused by the toxicity of the current political climate. This will involve leveraging our control at the state level and maximizing our successes at the federal level. We need to get back to basics, and recruit and train quality candidates to run for office. We need to knock on doors, get on the phone, build coalitions, and raise an online army of social media activists.
The Republican Party can absolutely be successful in the 2018 midterm elections. However, victory will not come without a fight. The time is now to get our battle plans firmly in place.
Lonny Leitner is the Chief of Staff at American Majority, the nation’s premier conservative training organization. He lives in Edina.