Yesterday, Mitch McConnell had the worst week in Washington and it’s only Wednesday. First, Graham-Cassidy, the latest bill to repeal Obamacare, died when Maine Senator Susan Collins announce she wouldn’t support it. Then, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker announced he would retire, giving Republicans another seat to defend in 2018. And last night, McConnell’s choice to fill the Senate seat in Alabama, Luther Strange, lost to Roy Moore, a guy who has twice been kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to respect the rule of law. Now, they will probably have to spend money to ensure they keep the seat with a guy they really don’t want.
We’ll almost certainly see more repeal-and-replace bills before the 2018 election. Republicans need to satisfy their base, but the bills they keep producing would cause more disruption instead of offering stability—which is what people want. A bill hasn’t passed because Republicans in swing states fear the backlash against repeal or conservatives object to bills that don’t take insurance away from enough people.
The GOP is still the favorite to win both Alabama and Tennessee, two states where Trump won big and is very popular. Still, the day brings more questions about McConnell’s influence over his caucus and the party. While Moore may still pull off a win in Alabama, his primary victory must bring memories of 2010 and 2012 when establishment Republicans lost primaries and handed Democrats victories in places like Missouri and Indiana.
Republicans continue to make 2018 look like a year that will be kind to Democrats. Divisions within the GOP are pulling it apart and preventing if being a governing party. Contentious primaries could eliminate their better candidates. And the president’s popularity is pulling the whole party down in the polls.
So, what could go wrong? Well, Democrats could insist on making the election about social issues instead of about Republicans. The GOP controls all of the federal government and about two-thirds of state governments. Over 60% of the people think the country is on the wrong track. Democrats should take advantage of that dissatisfaction instead of pushing a controversial agenda that further politicizes the country and energizes the Republican base. In short, they should work to make sure that Mitch McConnell has a lot more bad weeks.