Trump sunk Republicans in the House.
The result of the 2018 midterms will be argued over for weeks to come. Democrats can rightfully claim that a blue wave propelled them to a House majority. Republicans, on the other hand, can say that said blue wave hit a red wall in the Senate, where the GOP gained seats. What the two sides probably can agree on is this: The results were all about President Donald Trump. Indeed, this midterm was more about feelings toward a president than any other in recent history. Trump scored a rather low 45% approval rating in the exit polls, compared with a 54% disapproval rating. That 9-point split was reflected in what looks to ultimately be a 7- to 8-point Democratic advantage in the national popular House vote. A deep dive into the exit polls makes the same general finding: Those who approve of Trump voted Republican, while those who disapproved of him voted Democratic. Approvers went for Republican House candidates by 88% to 11%. A look back at exit polls since 1982 (when presidential approval was first asked on an exit poll during a midterm) reveals that this 77-point margin was the largest ever for the president’s party among those who approved of the job the president was doing. Disapprovers went in the complete opposite direction. They voted for Democratic House candidates 90% to 8%. That 82-point margin among disapprovers was the largest for the opposition party in midterms since 1982 as well. In the House, this proved to be a disaster for Republicans. The President was, to paraphrase him, on the ballot in every congressional race in the nation. Given that all voters were able to render a decision in the House, this meant an unpopular president resulted in a Democratic-controlled House. The President perhaps realized this when he chose his final campaign stops. He mostly ignored House races and focused on key Senate matchups throughout the country. Consistently the President visited states that he won in 2016. This strategy, combined with his polarizing rhetoric over issues like Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle and the migrant caravan, proved to be smart in Trump’s efforts to retain the Senate. It probably contributed to Republican voters coming home and voting for Republican candidates. Consider the key Senate races of Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia. His approval rating was at or above his disapproval rating in all these states. With the exception of West Virginia, the Republican Senate candidates won Trump approvers by at least a 76-point margin in all these races.