With Republicans "defending just 9 seats, while the Democrats will be fighting for 23 — plus another 2 held by independents who caucus with Democrats," the conventional wisdom is that Republicans stand a good chance of consolidating their control of the U.S. Senate come 2018. Her is an article suggesting that road may not be so easy to travel.
For Republican Leaders in Congress, the Headaches Keep Mounting
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are making no attempt to mask their fear, predicting that failure to pass a tax overhaul in the coming months will lead to a wipeout in next year’s midterm elections. For the first time, some senators are contemplating whether their advantages on the electoral map next year could crumble amid a wave of primary challenges and other departures, putting their two-seat majority in jeopardy next year.
Republicans are increasingly mystified by their own grass roots, an electorate they thought they knew, and distressed that a wave of turnover in their ranks could fundamentally change the character of Congress. They fear that the inchoate populism that Mr. Trump personifies, and which Mr. Bannon is attempting to weaponize against incumbents, is on the march.
….And matters could get worse. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has said she will announce next week whether she will make a 2018 bid for governor. If she leaves Washington, the decision would be tectonic. The Senate would lose a dealmaker, and her seat could eventually slip to the Democrats.
…That would only add to the headaches. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has taken aim at Mr. Trump, appears so weakened with Republican voters that there is increasingly talk of contingency planning should he not run again or seek re-election as an independent.
…Then there is Utah, where the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, Orrin G. Hatch, 83, is still determining whether to run for re-election next year. Republicans are inquiring about Mitt Romney’s willingness to run for the seat, and he has been open to overtures from national donors and his own former campaign aides, according to two people who have spoken with him in recent weeks.
It occurs to me that Tea Party activists challenging incumbents could backfire for the alt right. With such incumbents removed in the primaries, Democrat chances in the general election against politicians with more extreme views might be enhanced. At the very least, 2018 should prove to be very entertaining.