Republicans worry their incumbents will pay for the vote, and signs abound of an energized Democratic base.
This week’s vote to replace Obamacare has scrambled the 2018 House landscape, jeopardizing Republican lawmakers across the country and potentially endangering the party’s longstanding grip on the chamber.
More than a dozen senior Republican strategists, lawmakers, and potential candidates expressed varying degrees of concern over the political implications of the health care push. Some predicted that House members would face a fierce backlash from voters, while others said the party had erred badly in rushing through a bill that lacked broad public support.
The vote, combined with President Donald Trump’s record-low poll numbers and rising public dissatisfaction with how Republicans are wielding power over the federal government, has produced a cauldron of instability for the party, which is holding onto a 24-seat edge in the House. There is also the weight of history: In every midterm election since 2002, the party in the White House has lost congressional seats.
Some Republicans said the political environment surrounding the chamber had become more unpredictable than at any point since 2010, when they took power in an historic 63-seat wave.
“With this vote or not, we were headed to one of the most competitive, shifting, and volatile mid-year congressional elections in a number of years,” said Nick Everhart, a veteran Republican strategist who is working on a number of 2018 contests. “Between open seats, candidate recruitment, and legislative battles to come there are still so many variables that are going to shape the playing field.”
Several operatives said they were spending the end of the week trying to gauge fallout after some House Republicans admitted in televised interviews that they hadn’t read the full bill before voting for it — footage that could well appear in Democratic commercials come next year.