Near the close of 2017, things were not looking so good for the GOP.
President Donald Trump, having to yet pass any major reforms through Congress, was being characterized as an ineffective leader. Adding to their dismay, national Republicans read generic polling alerts that showed them trailing their Democrat counterparts by a staggering 18 points.
By most indications, a blue wave would be crashing down on Election Day 2018, taking the GOP’s hold on Congress along with it.
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A lot can change in one month.
A CNN survey released in January showed Democrats still carrying an edge over Republicans. However, this time by only a five-point margin.
The significance? The same CNN poll, made in conjunction with SRRS, in December showed Republicans trailing Democrats by nearly 20 points, meaning the GOP narrowed the gap by 13 points in just one month.
CNN has not been the only news outlet to report on a rapid GOP comeback.
Last December, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll had Democrats 11 points ahead of the GOP. In January, that same poll showed the Democratic advantage narrowed to six. An Ipsos survey in December showed national Democrats ahead by 14 points. In January, their poll, too, narrowed the gap to just six points.
To say the Republican Party enjoyed a stellar fundraising year in 2017 would be an understatement.
Altogether, the Republican National Committee hauled in $132.5 million last year, making it a record-breaking sum for the Republican Party in a non-election year. The fundraising numbers reflect strong confidence in the RNC brand, also owing in large part to the leadership of RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and other leaders such as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has established himself as a fundraising juggernaut.
Team Ryan, the speaker’s joint fundraising committee, raised more than $44 million in 2017. Much of this has been to the benefit of his House colleagues, the Wisconsin congressman has transferred $32 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
On the other hand, the Democratic National Committee suffered from its lowest fundraising numbers in years, taking in record-low levels of contributions that have left the organization starved for campaign cash.
The DNC raised a total of $67 million in 2017, according to Politico. This means the RNC nearly doubled them in fundraising last year. The DNC current has $6.5 million on hand, but they are dealing with a debt of $6.2 million.
What has led to the strong fundraising numbers and polling bump? Republicans point to promises made on the campaign trail that have come to fruition under a GOP-controlled D.C.
“We’ve fulfilled far more promises than we promised,” President Trump said to GOP lawmakers at an annual policy retreat, according to The Washington Times.
In his list of accomplishments, the president referenced the $1.5 trillion tax cut package passed in December, which included major changes to Obamacare — a long promise made by the GOP, and a record amount of conservative judges appointed to the bench, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Amid liberal warnings that the tax package would be near apocalyptic, the GOP-led tax bill was not popular. However, immediately following its passage, the bill has enjoyed one positive headline after another as major U.S. companies announce a plethora of pay raises, bonuses and other benefits — all owing to the tax bill.
Republicans will be running on the benefits of the major tax overhaul in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, which will begin in earnest in just a few short months.
“If we stay focused on selling the tax reform package, I think we’re going to hold the House and I think things are going to be OK for us,” said congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio. Stivers serves as chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign committee, and he believes Trump’s continued popularity in key districts will prove monumental in the upcoming elections.
Traditionally, the party that controls the White House does not perform well in midterm elections. President Obama watched his party lose control of the House in the 2010 elections and subsequently lost control of the Senate in 2014. The same occurred under President Bush during the 2006 midterms.
While the GOP prepares to hold their ground this year, they can expect to shed a few House seats while stilling holding onto the lower chamber of Congress, granted the momentum in their favor continues. In the Senate, Republicans are naturally buoyed by a very favorable map this cycle. The party may even make gains in the upper chamber.