The Republican Tax Cut Bet

Republican Vern Buchanan has represented Sarasota, Florida, in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2007. He won reelection in 2016 by 20 points. He’s a wealthy former car dealer who hasn’t lacked campaign funds. Nor did his son James, who ran in Tuesday’s special election to replace a retiring GOP state legislator from the same area. But James’s story turned out differently from his father’s. He lost to Democrat Margaret Good by seven points.

Democratic successes in local elections like Buchanan’s, and in last year’s contests in Virginia and New Jersey, are a reminder that the House majority is in serious jeopardy. Republicans are cheered by the recent uptick in President Trump’s job approval. They are thrilled to have cut the Democratic lead in the generic ballot by about half in little over a month. (As recently as December, Democrats led by 13 points; that advantage is down to 7.) But a seven-point deficit still worries House Republicans, who say the majority is in trouble if Democrats lead by six or more.

Midterm elections are not kind to incumbents. On average, a president’s party loses 25 seats in the off-year. The Republicans have a House majority of 24—and 23 of those districts voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. The out-party increases its gains to an average of 36 seats when a president’s approval rating falls below fifty percent. As I write, President Trump’s approval is 42 percent in the RCP average. The fury at Trump has intensified Democratic enthusiasm and liberal confidence. If you doubt me, take a look at Elizabeth Warren’s recent speech to the National Congress of American Indians. It could have been written by Howard Zinn.

What happens to Republicans depends on two groups: white women and whites with college degrees. Both demographics broke for Trump in 2016. He won white women by 10 points and white college grads by 4 points. But these are precisely the voters that have turned against him and the GOP in the eighteen months since Inauguration Day 2017. Democratic victories in Virginia and in Alabama were fueled by their outrage at Trump’s personality, style, and Tweets, and compounded by apathy and disinterest on the part of the president’s white working class base, who had supported him by 39 points. If white women and college graduates continue to be repelled by the president in an off-year election where he is not on the ballot, then the GOP majority is finished. Simple as that.

Read more at the Washington Free Beacon.

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