Last week, I wrote that the wave Democrats are expecting might not arrive. I argued that a strong economy, the recent tax cuts and normalization of Trump’s behavior could reduce the wave that seemed so apparent just a few weeks ago. However, evidence keeps building that Democrats have every reason to be optimistic.
Last week, Democrats flipped their 34th Republican-held legislative seat since Trump won. In a special election in Missouri, a Democrat won in district that Trump carried by 28 points. Along with three other GOP held districts, Democrats outperformed Hillary Clinton by an average of 32 points. According to election analysts, Democrats attracted a significant number of Trump voters in those elections.
In Pennsylvania, Republicans look like they may be in trouble in a special election for a US House seat in a district that Trump carried by 20 points. The election isn’t until March 15 and the GOP has plenty of time to recover, but the fact that it’s close is worrying GOP operatives across the country. The Democrat outraised the Republican and only trails by about three points. In response, the GOP is pouring money into the race, money they’d rather be spending next fall.
Republicans also should worry that they might be hemorrhaging support of women. Trump continues to show that he has more sympathy for accused abusers than he does their victims. He sided with Roy Moore in Alabama and now he’s defending a top staffer accused of spousal abuse by two ex-wives. Even though Rob Porter was fired, Trump reminded reporters that Porter denied the charges, just as Trump has denied the numerous allegations directed at him.
For women voters, the allegations might be getting to be too much. While Democrats demanded the resignation of Al Franken, accused sexual harassers in the GOP like Rep. Blake Farenthold get to keep their seats. The party that once demanded personal responsibility now lacks much personal accountability. With record numbers of women filing to run in response to the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement, the GOP might find itself the party of just white men.
The election year is volatile. While Republicans have a strong economy on their side, they’ve got an unpopular leader who repeatedly overshadows good news. Trump’s dismissive approach to women and the GOP’s reluctance to call him out might be driving a wedge between their party and the largest single demographic block of voters—white women. Trump is certainly giving women a reason to either come to the polls to oppose him or stay home if they can’t support a Democrat.