GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave

Bob Woodward’s new best-selling book portrays President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE’s White House in a state of chaos. The president is under fire for claiming Democrats inflated the death toll from Hurricane Maria. And Trump’s former campaign chairman is now cooperating with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

Congressional Republicans say ignore all those distractions: The booming economy is the only thing that will matter to voters in November.

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The unemployment rate is below 4 percent. The stock market is climbing. Blue-collar jobs are growing. And "help wanted" signs are abundant.

Just this week, the Census Bureau released data showing that median household income climbed to $61,400 last year, back to levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crash.

“At the end of the night, when people look at their paycheck and they look at the discretionary funds that they have today that they didn't have two years ago, they will say, ‘I may not like the president, but I like the policies,’ ” said Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoMcCaul set to serve as ranking member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses Republicans jockey for top GOP spot on House Foreign Affairs Committee MORE (R-Fla.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus that’s closely allied with Trump.

Polling shows Trump’s approval rating has dipped into the 30s and House Democrats have a double-digit advantage over Republicans among likely voters in the generic ballot. A recent FiveThirtyEight forecast projects Democrats have an almost 83 percent chance of winning back the House in the midterms.

But Yoho and other House GOP lawmakers are putting on a brave face, arguing that the strength of the economy will be enough to stave off a blue wave on Election Day.

"I think we'll lose some seats, but I think we keep the majority,” Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsBush hailed for principles as lawmakers pay respects House Republicans set to elect similar team of leaders despite midterm thumping Veterans can help meet the physician shortage in the VA health system, but this policy is a barrier MORE (R-Texas) told The Hill. “The other side, when you really look at what their message is, it's not a message.”

“Impeachment is not a message ... people are not buying that,” he added.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy calls on incoming Democrats to embrace bipartisanship, not 'food fight' or investigations GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R-Calif.) has described the challenges Republicans face this fall as a tornado rather than a tidal wave, touching down in spots rather than wiping out the party.

He also likened the current political climate to the 1998 midterms, when Republicans failed to pick up seats even though the Clinton administration was mired in scandal. Many Democrats then attributed their surprising midterm victory to the booming economy.

"Every day we get new, stronger economic numbers from the work that we've done here,” said McCarthy, who is running to be the next Speaker if the House stays in GOP hands. “I still believe it's results versus resistance. So, I just wish we didn't have as many retirements."

The strong economy — buoyed by the historic tax cuts enacted by Trump in 2017 — will be the GOP’s central argument for why voters should stick with Republicans in November, said Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House lawmakers delay decision on Saudi Arabia pending investigation On The Money: House GOP struggles to get votes for B in wall funds | Fallout from Oval Office clash | Dems say shutdown would affect 800K workers | House passes 7 billion farm bill MORE (R-La.). But he and his GOP colleagues also plan to warn the electorate about what Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force On The Money: GOP senator floats options to prevent shutdown | Republicans stunned by Trump shutdown threat | Schumer insists Dems won't budge on wall | Pelosi expects fierce fight over Trump tax returns | Trump warns GM won't be treated well after layoff Will Congress score headlines or legislative wins in next session? MORE (D-Calif.) and other Democrats would do if they win back the House.

“We're going to be campaigning not only on the results that we've delivered for the American families but what Pelosi wants to do in reversing the tax cuts and abolishing ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and radical policies that don't mesh with middle-class families,” Scalise said in a brief interview with The Hill.

The House Republican Conference, which handles party messaging, has been urging its members to tune out the distractions and, with a laser-like focus, talk up the party’s work on tax reform and deregulation. Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersWashington governor announces killer whale recovery plan ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker MORE (R-Wash.) has been equipping members with talking points and statistics tailored to individual districts to help boost their reelection chances, aides said.

One Democratic target this cycle, former Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonMidterm results shake up national map Overnight Health Care: Medicaid's popularity on the ballot in four red states | GOP in a bind on pre-existing conditions | Pelosi urges Dems to push health message day before midterms Election Countdown: Four days out | Early voting exceeds 2014 numbers in many states | Vulnerable Dems throw their party under the bus | Toss-ups to determine Senate control | 10 House GOP seats most likely to flip | Obama campaigns to preserve his legacy MORE (R-Mich.), was doing his best to tune out the latest Trump controversy this past week, when Trump tweeted that the death toll in Puerto Rico had been grossly inflated after Hurricane Maria.

Asked twice about the president’s allegations, Upton replied that he had not seen the comments because he had been busy marking up a half-dozen bills in his committee and preparing for a floor speech.

“I’ve been in a markup. I have not followed them at all,” Upton told The Hill. “I don’t know what he said or what the context was.”

Despite the strong economy, some Republican operatives fear it won’t be enough to save the GOP this fall. With the party facing historic headwinds and a fired-up Democratic base, some strategists are concerned the growing deficit and parts of the tax cuts could prove problematic in certain swing districts.

GOP strategist Liz Mair suggested that many Republican voters won’t turn out in November to say “thank you” to Trump.

"They have to have something that is an offer as a future prospect for them to justify voting for people,” she said.

It’s unlikely that endangered Republicans in districts hit by changes to the state and local tax deduction will be touting the 2017 tax law as a success, Mair said.

“Tax reform obviously hasn't been uniformly great for everybody,” she said. “If you're in California, Illinois, New York or New Jersey, there's a very high probability that you don't want to say ‘thank you’ anyway," said Mair, a former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. "You probably want to say ‘F-you very much’ — so that's a problem."

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who is facing a formidable challenge from former prosecutor and FBI agent Chris Hunter this fall, said there are decent odds that Democrats take back control of the House.

"Well, we’ve got to work hard, and it's going to be tough,” Bilirakis conceded. “It's probably 50-50 right now.”

“Historically in the first term of a president, the majority party loses seats,” he said, “so we've just got to work hard and show the American people what we've done.”