The front page of Sunday’s New York Times provided yet another entry in the bulging file of Times articles that brim with optimism about Democratic prospects and dousing the hopes of Republicans. Alexander Burns and Alan Blinder reported that “G.O.P. Braces As Statehouses Are Put in Play -- Energized Democrats Sense Momentum.”
Congressional reporter Carl Hulse has practically made a career out of such articles.
And yet somehow Republicans still control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the majority of governorships and statehouses.
Burns and Blinder promised a bumpy ride in the 2018 midterms for the GOP:
For Republicans in the states, the political warning signs keep mounting: In Virginia, it was an electoral shellacking that nearly snapped their 20-year grip on the State House. In Wisconsin, it was a midwinter rout in a special election for the State Senate, fought in a conservative district.
And in Pennsylvania, it has been an exodus of state legislators from the Philadelphia area, where more than half a dozen Republicans have opted for retirement over a strenuous campaign in 2018.
The text box: “Political warning signs as a party’s long dominance appears to be fraying.”
As national Republicans dig in to defend their majorities in Congress in the midterm elections, party leaders across the country have grown anxious about losses on a different front: state legislatures. Over the last decade, Republicans have dominated most state capitals, enacting deep tax cuts, imposing new regulations on labor unions and abortion providers, and drawing favorable congressional maps to reinforce their power in Washington.
Yet that dominance appears to be fraying, strained by the same forces taxing Republicans in Congress. National strategists in both parties see the landscape of legislative races expanding, especially in areas around major cities where President Trump has stirred an insurrection among liberals, and college-educated voters and white women have recoiled from Republicans.
The reporters made some pretty bold predictions in their news article.
But with some momentum behind Democrats -- at least for now -- the party appears positioned to make inroads in crucial legislatures, winning a new measure of relevance in state policy and perhaps limiting Republicans’ influence on congressional redistricting after 2020.
It is not Mr. Trump alone mobilizing Democrats down ballot. In some states, Republicans have been in charge long enough to generate their own cloud of fatigue. In moderate areas where Mr. Trump is toxic, some voters have also tired of Republican policies -- on abortion, guns and environmental regulation -- championed by rural legislators.
But Mr. Trump’s unpopularity is likely to help. Pam Hacker, an electrician running for the State House, said she rarely brings up the president, but sees him alienating communities that once voted Republican.
“It is a new Republican Party,” she said, “and I just don’t think it’s a friendly face.”
Meanwhile, this counter-narrative analysis didn’t make the print edition, much less the front page: "The Last Two Weeks of Polls Have Been Great for Republicans. Do They Signal a Shift? The Democrats’ impressive lead in the generic congressional ballot has slipped.”