I spoke to CNBC‘s John Harwood about the implications of GOP victories overnight in Georgia and South Carolina. Bottom line: Republicans will be emboldened by these wins, but can’t risk complacency.
The good news for Trump from Tuesday’s election is immediate. His party’s campaign operatives skillfully rose to the challenge of containing the brush fire of Democratic resistance and demoralized the president’s opposition.
More importantly, it calms the jitters of his own party about the consequences of aligning themselves with him. That means, notwithstanding his sub-40 percent approval rating, Trump has a slightly better chance of persuading Republican lawmakers to swallow their reservations and embrace his legislative priorities on health care, tax reform and infrastructure.
“They’ll decide the stove is not that hot,” said GOP strategist Liam Donovan.
The longer-term implication is less reassuring for Republicans. They have held all four House seats that opened up after the president selected their representatives for his Cabinet. Yet in each case — including both Georgia’s 6th District and South Carolina’s 5th on Tuesday night — Democrats ran much closer than they had in 2014.
That points toward a 2018 mid-term election climate even more favorable than opposition parties typically enjoy in the early phase of a new president’s tenure. They will have plenty of targets, and are highly likely to gain seats next November, in addition to being favored in governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia this fall.
“The House is in play, period,” Donovan said. That was clear merely from the fact that Georgia’s 6th, a longtime GOP stronghold, was competitive in the first place.
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