Democrats fear failing to halt 'dangerous' Trump again
For Democrats, the midterm elections have been a beacon in the dark, a chance to re-emerge from the political wilderness and repudiate a president they view as a dangerous force.
But on the cusp of tomorrow's vote, many Democrats are as anxious as they are hopeful.
Their memories from 2016, when they watched in disbelief as Donald Trump defied polls, expectations and political norms, are still fresh. And as Trump travels the country armed with a divisive and racially charged closing campaign message, the test for Democrats now feels at once similar and more urgent than it did two years ago: They failed to stop Trump then, what if they fall short again?
This year, history is on Democrats' side. The sitting president's party often loses ground in the first midterm after winning office, and for much of 2018, polling has favoured Democrats.
Primary contests filled the Democratic roster with a new generation of candidates, including several minority candidates who could make history in their races. While the fight to regain control of the Senate, largely playing out in conservative states, may prove out of reach for Democrats, the party has been buoyed by its ability to run competitively in Republican-leaning states such as Texas and Tennessee.
Democrats' focus is largely on snatching back the House and picking up governors' seats in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere. The party is also seeking redemption in the Midwest where Trump won over white, working-class voters who had backed Democrats for years. In Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Democrats appear poised to regain ground.
Such victories would build momentum behind the party's shift toward a new generation of candidates who are younger, more diverse, with greater numbers of women and more liberal than Democratic leadership. They would also signal that Trump's hard line on immigration and his penchant for personal attacks turn off more voters than they energise.
A good night for Democrats tomorrow would provide a blueprint for how the party can successfully run against Trump in the 2020 presidential race. At least two dozen Democrats are waiting in the wings, eager to take Trump.
But the president has proved once again to be a powerful political force late in a campaign.
Even with an approval rating below the average for his recent predecessors at this point, he has almost single-handedly put Republicans in a stronger position. He's aggressively appealed to his loyal, core supporters with a sharply anti-immigrant, nationalist message and by casting Democrats as outside the mainstream.
"A vote for any Democrat this November is a vote to really put extreme far-left politicians in charge of Congress and to destroy your jobs, slash your incomes, undermine your safety and put illegal aliens before American citizens," Trump said at the weekend.