Good Monday Morning, August 6, 2018

President Trump’s optimism about the GOP’s prospects in the 2018 midterm elections is at odds with how most Republicans see the political landscape.

Over the weekend, Trump cited the economy and a survey from the conservative polling outlet Rasmussen that put his approval rating near 50 percent as evidence that a “red wave” is forming three months out from Election Day.

Many Republicans and election forecasters, however, believe the GOP is facing a bloodbath in the House.

The Associated Press: GOP grumbles as Trump reshapes midterms.

It’s possible that the president’s optimistic views are being colored by his campaign rallies.

Trump loves to campaign and he’s hitting the trail with vigor, both for GOP candidates and his own reelection bid. The president routinely draws thousands of adoring supporters who show up to cheer his attacks on Democrats and the media.

The Hill: Trump roars into campaign season.

But that enthusiasm for Trump doesn’t square with the GOP’s struggles to defend safely Republican House seats, like in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) is trying to hold off a challenge from Democrat Danny O’Connor in a special election for a seat that the GOP has held for 35 consecutive years.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who represented Ohio’s 12th Congressional District from 1983 to 2001, had this to say on ABC’s “This Week”:

“It’s really kind of shocking because this should be just a slam dunk and it’s not. It really doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party because this … shouldn’t even be contested.” – Kasich

Trump was in the Columbus suburbs on Saturday, so we’ll get another test of the president’s midterms strength on Tuesday, when voters head to the polls for the special election.

But even if Republicans hold the seat, it will come at the cost of millions of dollars spent by GOP outside groups to protect a seat that is not historically competitive.

Among the other data points that have Republicans worried:

Polls show Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) within striking distance of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Cruz is still expected to win the race, but the Cook Political Report moved his race over the weekend from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican.”

Dozens of Republicans in the House are retiring or seeking other office and open seats are harder to defend. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who was running for governor, lost in a primary last week, making her the fifth GOP House lawmaker to lose a bid for higher office this cycle.

There is tremendous energy on the left, with Democrats saying they’re more excited to vote this year than Republicans and liberals organizing protest marches in the streets. Celebrities are working to goose turnout for Democrats. Singer John Legend posted this plea to get out the vote for O’Connor in Ohio’s 12 Congressional District from what looks like an island resort.

The president’s approval ratings are stable but low at this point for a first-term president. Some Republicans fear that he’ll be an albatross for the party, or energize Democrats to turn out and vote against him.

“Now you come out … from the ‘Trump church’ in the Republican primary with a big Trump halo. But in the general election, Democrats all hate Trump and among independents he’s mostly upside-down. So what is your magic light sword in the primary becomes an anchor around your neck in the general.” – GOP strategist Mike Murphy on NBC’s “Meet the Press”

Trump’s allies note that none of the experts foresaw his historic election victory in 2016 and that there’s no reason he can’t help Republicans buck history one more time in 2018.

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