In a tweet earlier this week, President Donald Trump inadvertently suggested that he’s jittery about the midterm elections. He seems so unnerved that he’s prepared to pre-spin a blue wave as the rigged handiwork of Russia. “Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election,” the president said. “Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats.”
The implication is that if the Democrats capture the House or Senate, it would happen only with underhanded foreign assistance. But the truth—as gleaned from the statistical tea leaves, among other evidence—is that the Democrats seem poised to win back a share of power solely on the basis of the following factors: grassroots enthusiasm, the blue-tilted mood of independent voters, solid fundraising, and a softening of Trump love even within his base. None of these summer trends is etched in stone. But the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell may have been right back in April when he said, “We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4, or 5.”
Category 5—something similar to the storm of 2010, when Republicans took the House, picking up 63 seats—is probably not in play. Democrats are constrained by the national House map; most of the districts were drawn by GOP state legislatures to enhance Republican voting strength and disperse those who habitually vote Democratic. According to Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan politics newsletter that handicaps races, “the median House district is about four percentage points to the right of the nation.” That alone could save Republicans from a tsunami in November.