Tax Cuts Buoy Republicans, but They’re Swimming Against an Undertow
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said in an interview that Senate Republicans next year would batter the many Democrats who are on the ballot in states won by Mr. Trump, such places as North Dakota, West Virginia and Indiana, for opposing the bill.
Yet with voters indicating by wide margins they prefer Democrats to control Congress and bestowing Mr. Trump with historically low approval ratings, the tax plan is hardly a panacea for Republican lawmakers on the ballot in 2018. At best, it is the political equivalent of tacking up plywood against exterior windows to lessen the inevitable damage of an impending storm.
Officials in both parties believe Democratic gains in the House, where Republicans enjoy a 24-seat majority, could reach as high as 40 seats if the political environment does not improve for the Republicans.
And, as of now, it only appears to be worsening.
A CNN poll released on Wednesday found that 56 percent of registered voters said they would vote Democratic next November, compared to 38 percent who favored the Republicans, a yawning 18-percentage-point gap that was only slightly bigger than other recent polls. Through that lens, impressions of the new tax law could be warped by partisan feelings.
This advantage is showing up in fund-raising, where Democrats are harvesting small-dollar contributions. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced on Wednesday that it raised $6.9 million in November, outraising its Republican counterpart for the seventh month in a row. In November, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised only $3.8 million.
House Republicans, however, still have more money on hand and the Republican National Committee has far more cash than the Democratic National Committee. In the Senate, the Democratic campaign arm has slightly more money in the bank than the Republicans.
Beyond the raw numbers, Democratic enthusiasm is soaring. And the sort of centrist voters that both parties covet are contemptuous of Mr. Trump because of his behavior and character, elements that are highly unlikely to change by next fall no matter what policies emerge from Washington.