Democrats are touting an impeding “blue wave” in the 2018 midterm elections that will sweep them to a majority in the House of Representatives.
But their prospects look much different in the Senate.
If the elections were held today, at least five incumbent Democrats would lose their seats to a Republican challenger, according to a poll released Thursday by Axios.
Democrats are defending 10 Senate seats in states Trump won in 2016. In six of those states — Montana, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota and Ohio — Trump’s approval rating is above 50 percent.
That political dynamic presents a big hurdle for several Democrats facing voters who are generally supportive of the president and, as of this month, favor a generic Republican over the incumbent. The Axios poll found that Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are all trailing a Republican challenger.
Manchin, Tester and McCaskill appear particularly vulnerable because each of their approval ratings is either at or below 50 percent, while Trump’s is well above that in all three states, according to the Axios poll. That means running a campaign as referendum on the president, as midterm campaigns often do, is likely to be a losing strategy for these Democrats.
One bright spot for Democrats in the Axios poll is that incumbents are leading in three of the four states where Republicans have settled on a challenger. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Pat Casey of Pennsylvania and Bill Nelson of Florida are all running ahead of their opponents, while McCaskill is trailing Republican challenger Josh Hawley, 44 to 52.
The SurveyMonkey/Axios online polls were conducted February 12- March 5, 2018 among a total sample of 17,289 registered voters living in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Montana, and North Dakota.
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