Across US, a call to get out and vote
The tumultuous 2018 midterm campaign, shaped by conflicts over race and identity and punctuated by tragedy, barreled through its final weekend as voters prepared to deliver a verdict on the first half of President Donald Trump’s term, with Republicans bracing for losses in the House and state capitals but hopeful they would prevail in Senate races in areas where Trump is popular.
The president was storming across two states Saturday, followed by two Sunday and three Monday in an effort to pick off Senate seats in Indiana, Florida and a handful of other battlegrounds where Republicans hope to add to their one-seat majority in the chamber.
Democrats and liberal activists, galvanized by opposition to Trump, gathered Saturday to knock on doors and make turnout calls from Pennsylvania to Illinois to Washington to try to erase the GOP’s 23-seat House majority.
The run-up to the election, widely seen as a referendum on Trump’s divisive persona and hardline policy agenda, has revealed deep strains in the president’s political coalition and left him confined to campaign in a narrow band of conservative communities.
Republicans’ intermittent focus on favorable economic news, such as the Friday report showing strong job growth, has been overwhelmed by Trump’s message of racially incendiary nationalism.
While Trump retains a strong grip on many red states and working-class white voters, his jeremiads against immigrants and penchant for ridicule have proved destabilizing, with the party losing more affluent whites and moderates in metropolitan areas key to control of the House.
Republicans have grown increasingly pessimistic in recent days about holding the House, as polls show a number of incumbents lagging well below 50 percent and some facing unexpectedly close races in conservative-leaning districts.
In several diverse Sun Belt states where Republicans had shown resilience, such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, their candidates have seen their numbers dip in polling as Trump has given up the unifying role that U.S. presidents have traditionally tried to play.
Democrats are also in contention to retain or capture governorships in rust belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that were pivotal to Trump’s victory and fertile ground for Republicans for much of the last decade.
Despite these worrisome signs, some Republican leaders saw reason for measured optimism.
While Trump said Friday that Republicans losing the House “could happen,” Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, who leads the GOP House campaign committee, has continued to predict that his party will narrowly hold its majority.
Republican strategists have argued that about two dozen races are within the margin of error in polling; should right-ofcenter voters swing back to them on Election Day, they say, Democrats could fall short of winning enough seats to take control of the House.
Republican officials were more confident about their prospects in the Senate, where they had an opportunity to enlarge their majority in an otherwise difficult year.
Nearly all of the most important Senate races are being fought on solidly conservative terrain, including North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana, where Democratic incumbents are in close contests for re-election. Trump won all three states by landslide margins in 2016.
Charles Cannizzaro, left, and Ethan Cho, volunteers working for Young Kim, a Republican candidate running for a U.S. House seat in the 39th District in California, call potential voters Saturday in Rowland Heights, Calif.