According to new research by the Brookings Institution, at least 209 Democrats challenging Republican US House incumbents have reported $5,000 or more in contributions to the Federal Elections Commission for the 2018 midterm elections — the biggest partisan wave of its kind since 2003.
Rachel Maddow reported on the findings at the end of her MSNBC show last night. “We don’t know if that will result in anything in particular. We don’t know that it means anything at all,” she said. “But when you see a statistical jump like that, it’s probably gonna mean something.”
Of course, some of these new Democrats are running against one another for the right to challenge a Republican. But political science professor Michael Malbin writes at the Brookings Institution website that “the candidates are not simply bunching up in a few primaries.”
So the Democrats are putting themselves in a strong position to take advantage of a national tide in their direction, if there is one. This is important. No matter how strong a tide may be nationally, congressional elections are decided in districts. The party riding a wave cannot win in a district unless it puts up a credible candidate. You cannot beat somebody with nobody. Finding a credible candidate has to come first.
By contrast, only 28 Republicans are considered “serious contenders” for US House seats now held by Democrats when the Brookings Institute applies the same criteria. This chart of “serious” House candidates in each cycle since 2003, divided by party, is quite visually striking:
To be sure, there are no guarantees in politics and Democrats cannot rely on the moodswings of the voting public. But the GOP advantage in the House is just 30 seats, so if only one in four Democratic challengers wins their races next November, Republicans will lose control of the congressional purse strings — and the Paul Ryan era will be over.
Everyone (Brookings included) uses the recent GA-06 special election as a kind of benchmark, which is understandable since Jon Ossoff garnered more votes than any Democrat in the deeply-red district ever has before while still losing. Nationwide, however, Republicans will be defending at least 71 districts next year where the voters lean further left than GA-06.
The Donald Trump presidency has energized Democratic partisans like never before. One sign of the dramatic effect he’s having on them: after 21 years on the air, MSNBC is finally winning the prime time battle with Fox News, in no small part because of Rachel Maddow’s stellar reporting on the Indivisible movement and Trump’s Russian collusion scandals.
Here is video of Maddow reporting on the Brookings Institution research. Watch:
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