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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 TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest 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 ObamaBiden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing White House races clock to beat GOP attacks On North Korea, Biden should borrow from Trump's Singapore declaration 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 ClintonClose the avenues of foreign meddling Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report Pence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster 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 RosensteinRosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Comey argues Trump shouldn't be prosecuted after leaving Oval Office Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE, the deputy attorney general, only to retreat in haste after Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world Boehner throws support behind Republican who backed Trump impeachment MORE voiced his opposition to the move. Meanwhile, Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' 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 PelosiWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Sunday shows - Infrastructure dominates Liz Cheney says allegations against Gaetz are 'sickening,' refuses to say if he should resign 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 RothfusConor Lamb defeats Trump-backed challenger for reelection in Pennsylvania CNN's Tapper tried to talk GOP candidate out of running against Democratic incumbent: report Lobbying world 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 WarrenOn The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House MORE, Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Pelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report How Kamala Harris can find the solution for the migration crisis MORE, Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Manhattan law firm named as lead in Cuomo impeachment investigation Senate Democrats call on DHS for details on response to Portland protests MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden's policies are playing into Trump's hands Hillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' On The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions 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.