With a reliance on the advantage the party not in the White House typically possesses and a polarizing president, many Democrats have been boasting of a coming “blue wave” in which they would regain power in Congress.
On Monday, however, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee said that while he still believes Democrats have the advantage, he cautions that the Nov. 6 elections will not be a wipeout.
“We always knew that this election was going to be close. I don’t use the term blue wave,” he told CNN’s “New Day.”
Recent polls show the reaction to Democrats’ handling of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination has helped Republicans gain ground in the battle for control of the Senate.
In the House races, polls show Democrats gaining the 23 seats they need to gain control.
But Republicans recall how badly the polls misfired during the 2016 elections, and they point to a recent rise in President Trump’s approval ratings along with strong turnouts at rallies across the nation, including in Houston Monday night in support of Sen. Ted. Cruz, R-Texas.
Nevertheless, more than 5 million people already have cast ballots, and early voting points to warning signs for Republicans, Fox News reported.
In Nevada, for example, the secretary of state posted figures showing a strong Democratic turnout across the state. In Washoe County, regarded as the state’s “swing county,” Republicans have a 5,000 voter edge. But Democrats have a 600-vote edge in turnout in the county where Reno is located.
Many states are reporting turnouts approaching presidential-election levels, including in Indiana and Minnesota, reported US News reported.
Republicans, however, see good signs in Arizona, where early voting began Oct. 10. More than 400,000 ballots have been returned, and Republicans hold a 12-point edge.
That fact causes Paul Bentz, an Arizona-based Republican consultant, to conclude the “blue wave” hasn’t materialized in his state, with a ballot edge of 12 to 14 points reflecting a typical midterm year in Arizona.
“We were all thinking we’d see a better than usual Democrat turnout. A couple days in, we aren’t seeing it yet,” Bentz told US News. “You know how before the tsunami comes, the beach recedes. We’re not seeing any water at the beach receding.”
Microcosm of dueling forces
The New York Times took a sampling of voters across the nation and found that the dynamics in Nebraska’s 2nd District and Iowa’s 3rd, just across the Missouri River from each other, “are a microcosm of the dueling forces at work in many of the congressional races across the country that will be hardest for Democrats to flip.”
“They are places where the liberal-heavy urban or suburban cores may not turn out in great enough numbers to outweigh the reliably conservative voters farther out,” the Times said.
They, nevertheless, remain pickup opportunities for the Democrats because of their history of voting for both parties.
In both districts, Republican incumbents face Democratic women backed by progressive groups such as Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Human Rights Campaign.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a CNN interview Monday her party could win the House with women.
She signaled that if she becomes speaker again, Democrats will use subpoena power not only to hold the Trump administration accountable but as a negotiating tool.
“It’s a great arrow to have in your quiver in terms of negotiating on other subjects,” she said.
Meanwhile, Trump was in Houston Monday night to rally for Cruz, who is facing an unexpected challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
A recent CNN poll found Cruz leading O’Rourke by 7 points in a state where no Democrat has won statewide office since 1994.
Trump indicated to reporters on the White House lawn Monday afternoon as he prepared to depart for Texas that he now has a good relationship with the senator he called “Lyin’ Ted” during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump said it’s “not Lyin’ Ted anymore. He’s Beautiful Ted.”
At the Texas rally for Cruz Monday night, Trump brought up the “blue wave” notion:
“The blue wave is being dissipated a little bit,” Trump said. “You don’t hear about it too much.”
During the contentious 2016 campaign, Trump implied Cruz’s father had been involved in the JFK assassination and insulted the senator’s wife.
The Houston Chronicle reported a line began forming for the rally at Houston’s Toyota Center, which seats 18,000, more than 24 hours in advance.
Trump, in his opening remarks, said a record crowd had shown up, and many more people had to be turned away.
He repeated his pledge to introduce, prior to the midterms, a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class as a follow-up to his major tax-reform plan and “more regulation cuts than any other president in history.”