In the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy, like the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last week, anguish needs to find an outlet. Students have taken to the streets and the halls of political power demanding an end to the violence. Parents, in their darkest hour, talk of their pain to cable TV hosts and even to the President of the United States. There are so many questions about why and how this could happen. The natural human reaction is to try and answer them.
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a new congressional map for 2018 that's close to a best-case scenario for Democrats. The map, drawn by a court-appointed special master, doesn't just undo the gerrymander that's produced a 13-5 seat GOP edge since 2012. It goes further, actively compensating for Democrats' natural geographic disadvantage in the state. Under the new lines, Democrats have an excellent chance to win at least half the state's 18 seats.
It appears that Republican At-Large U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer might have just been playing hard to get when he announced in January that he would not challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in November. Today, he has reversed himself, putting the race into the Toss Up column.
Earlier this week the Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA released a memo that publicly acknowledged concerns that Democrats had been privately expressing for a couple weeks that Democrats lack a compelling economic narrative for 2018. Citing polling that shows an uptick in President Trump’s approval rating and the tax reform bill, the Priorities memo argues:
Katie Hill, 30, is a first-time candidate who may be one of the most impressive Democratic contenders of 2018. The daughter of a nurse and a police officer, she studied nursing herself before shifting to the non-profit sector, and by 29 she was running the largest anti-homelessness non-profit in California, with an annual budget over $40 million. But her ability to navigate a tricky primary may hold the key to Democrats' chances of flipping a critical district.
Today, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan announced he would retire at the end of his second three-term stint in the House (his first was between 1974 and 1980), giving Republicans fresh optimism in an Iron Range district that voted for President Trump 54 percent to 38 percent in 2016. But Nolan was already the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the country, and we're keeping our Toss Up rating for now.
The first two months of 2018 have given both parties reasons for optimism. Republicans have cut Democrats' lead in the FiveThirtyEight average of generic congressional ballot polls in half, from roughly 12 points in December to about six points today. As debates over unpopular health care and tax bills have subsided, news of strong economic data and record-high stocks (at least until late last week) has likely aided the GOP.
In an interview with POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer this week, Vice President Mike Pence announced an aggressive travel schedule over the next few months aimed at helping to raise money for GOP House and Senate candidates and to promote the GOP tax cut legislation.
Just about everyone who follows politics closely knows that while there may well be a Democratic wave building, the Republican-friendly Senate map is an imposing bulwark that may protect the GOP against all but the biggest of tsunamis.
It's not often that a newly installed chair of the House Appropriations Committee calls it quits, but GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen's decision not to seek a 13th term confirms months of rumors that he wasn't in the mood for his first ever truly competitive reelection race. Democrats were in prime position to cast him as the face of the House GOP agenda, and they'll have an excellent opportunity to pick up the seat without him on the ballot.