Buckle your seatbelts for 100 days of political drama before midterms

Buckle your seatbelts for 100 days of political drama before midterms
© Greg Nash

The economy hums while storm clouds darken the White House. Welcome to the final 100 days before the 2018 midterms. Even as the economy is experiencing is highest rate of growth since 2014, the electorate is angry. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE has taken command of center stage, and the public is not thrilled with what it sees. When the president is underwater in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, it is time for Republicans to worry.

The real question is how large a bite Trump extract from Republican candidates this fall. Real Clear Politics shows the Democrats leading on the generic congressional ballot by more than seven points. No, that number does not reflect a blue wave. However, it provides Republicans with little room for error, and even less reason for comfort.

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The cacophony emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days has turned off independents. It has dampened enthusiasm among voters who cast their ballots for both Trump and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama attends UNC-Duke basketball game Obama, Steph Curry team up to tell young men of color: 'You matter' The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question MORE. These voters are almost as displeased with Trump’s tariffs as they were with Obama’s commitment to global trade. Among independents, nearly three in five disapprove of the president, 45 percent strongly so.

Although Trump revels in the attention, and his supporters grow ever more enthusiastic, the headlines have limited his ability to maneuver, assuming he has any desire to play to less caffeinated Americans. However you slice it, Trump battling Michael Cohen on Twitter is not what the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee want to be staring at.

Regardless, Trump’s approval numbers are stuck in the low 40 percent range, and for the “in” party that is definitely a problem. From the looks of things, the Republicans hold on the House is in jeopardy, and their control of the Senate is in doubt. When Sean Trende tweets, “I think we’re probably back to considering Democrats no worse than 50-50 to take the Senate,” that is certainly news that both parties should consider.

It is key to note that November will be more about dueling bases and their resentments. For Republicans, nuance is an outdated concept. Despite the fact that more than a handful of Republican seats are up for grabs in districts that voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Democrats more likely Trump's foil, than to foil Trump MORE, the party at large appears incapable of appealing to voters who are not partisan diehards.

During the past week, the firebrands over at the House Freedom Caucus introduced an impeachment resolution targeting Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Trump calls Andrew McCabe a 'poor man's J. Edgar Hoover' CNN: DOJ preparing to announce end of Mueller probe as soon as next week MORE, the deputy attorney general, only to retreat in haste after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump Unscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden MORE voiced his opposition to the move. Meanwhile, Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Rod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE launched his not so quixotic bid to replace Ryan, despite reports that Jordan ignored allegations of sexual abuse during his time at Ohio State. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiWhy Omar’s views are dangerous Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Graham clashed with Pentagon chief over Syria | Talk grows that Trump will fire Coats | Coast Guard officer accused of domestic terrorism plot MORE may well be long in the tooth and a lightning rod in her own right, but Jordan inhabits a different universe. Owning the liberals may be a sentiment, but it has its limits as a strategy.

As for the political center, the Democrats have demonstrated some chops. They backed Conor Lamb, a cultural moderate, in his successful effort to wrest a Republican held seat in Pennsylvania. A recent poll shows Lamb up by double digits in a race that pits him against Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusTrump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 Pennsylvania New Members 2019 Pennsylvania Dem: Trump has proven he's 'interested in negotiating' MORE, another incumbent and a Republican, the only such contest in the country.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats can stick to the script. Democratic calls for the abolition of ICE may make the activist base of the party giddy, but the position has few takers in most of the country. Only a quarter of voters support ditching ICE, while a majority favor retaining it. Most Americans oppose separating children from their parent at the border. At the same time, however, they favor border security.

Already, Democrats eyeing 2020, such as Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCoast Guard lieutenant arrested, accused of planning domestic terrorism Hillicon Valley: Microsoft reveals new Russian hack attempts | Google failed to disclose hidden microphone | Booker makes late HQ2 bid | Conservative group targets Ocasio-Cortez over Amazon Trump campaign fundraising on Bernie Sanders's M haul MORE, Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris criticized by Jamaican father over marijuana joke Harris adds key Clinton aide, women of color to 2020 campaign: report Coast Guard lieutenant arrested, accused of planning domestic terrorism MORE, Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCongress needs to bring family and medical leave policies into the 21st century Trump campaign fundraising on Bernie Sanders's M haul Gillibrand tells Iowan ‘ranch girl’ that pizza is on her next time MORE and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders to sign pledge affirming he will run as a Democrat Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Hillicon Valley: Microsoft reveals new Russian hack attempts | Google failed to disclose hidden microphone | Booker makes late HQ2 bid | Conservative group targets Ocasio-Cortez over Amazon MORE, have embraced the siren song against ICE. If their views become dominant between now and November, the Republicans may yet snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.