Sabin wrote:Best case scenario for the midterms: the Democrats make some solid gains. Worst case scenario: they don't, and they get new leadership. Either way points to a rejuvenated party for the 2020 election.
After believing the hype that Donald Trump's chances were so slim as to be negligible last year, I don't think we can take anything for granted. The Charlottesville story has devolved into a debate about statues; Republicans are moving on to Tax Reform; and no one seems too eager to really go after the President on his faults in any sustained way. President Trump doesn't seem worried about his job being in jeopardy, as his bold pardon move clearly proves. Republicans don't want to destroy him because they still think they can get their agenda through if he's there to sign off on it, and Democrats can't do anything to him while they are out of the majority and they have a very tough midterm ahead despite Trump's overall low approval ratings. So the question is, how long can Republicans hold back their frustrations?
My guess is that there are 3 scenarios in play. 1: Republicans narrowly retain the Senate and keep the House, in which case they will be emboldened to pass as much of their agenda as possible with Democrats trying mightily to hold them off. Under this scenario, the only way to stop the runaway train would be for Robert Mueller's investigation to yield information so damaging that Republicans are forced to impeach their President or force him to resign. 2. The Democrats ride a wave of anger to win back the House, which makes it possible to impeach the President but makes conducting a Senate trial a rather awkward proposition. Even without impeachment, however, Donald Trump becomes a lame-duck president unable to pass legislation and likely having no path to persuading Republicans to renominate him in 2020. 3. President Trump makes a series of blunders over the next year, endangering Republicans for the midterms and sparking a move by the party to have him removed in some way, making Mike Pence president but creating a potentially unstable political situation for the midterms.
If #1 happens, we could be looking at the "new normal" and will see 8 years of a Trump Era, unless Mueller indicts him. If #2 happens, it is the best-case scenario for Democrats (and non-Trump supporters) because Democrats have a real uphill battle in the Senate defending a lot more seats. #3 seems unlikely although possible. Trump is almost certain to keep doing things that will drive everyone nuts, but unless Republicans start to feel that the President doesn't have their backs in terms of legislation being passed, the party will remain reluctant to really punish him for his behavior. They need him, because even if they have a fresh start without him after the midterms there is no guarantee they can win the 2020 race. So they probably feel that their best shot at passing anything is now. Ironically, they can't seem to agree on anything yet which is largely Trump's fault for not leading.
"If you can't stand the nut on the left and you can't stand the nut on the right, go for the Johnson,” Jonathan S. Bush (10/21/2016)