President Donald Trump says Republicans will have no trouble in this year’s midterm elections, which could cause trouble for his party as it defends congressional majorities.
The vast majority of lawmakers and strategists from both major parties believe Democrats will at least pick up a chunk of Republican House seats in November or take a majority in the chamber. Democrats’ high hopes are tied to relatively poor approval ratings for Trump and his major policy initiatives, as well as historical struggles for a president’s party in midterm years.
During rallies this year, the president has said a “red wave” is coming in November and claimed Republicans could actually gain seats in Congress. In comments to The Hill published Wednesday, Trump reiterated his belief that Republicans will surprise prognosticators.
“I think we’re gonna do much better than anyone thinks because the economy is so good, and people do like the job I’m doing,” he told the news outlet. While polls have largely found Americans have rosy views of the economy, Trump’s approval rating is lower than nearly all of his recent predecessors at this point in their presidencies.
Trump’s boasts about future GOP success could damage his party in the midterms as it tries to stress the importance of voter turnout. An enthusiasm gap this year between Democratic and Republican voters could swing races that Republicans might otherwise win.
One report this week showed possible trouble for Republicans. A private poll conducted for the Republican National Committee found half of self-identified Republicans and 57 percent of people who call themselves strong Trump supporters do not believe Democrats have a chance to win the House, according to Bloomberg.
“We need to make real the threat that Democrats have a good shot of winning control of Congress,” the report says, according to the news outlet.
Trump’s rhetoric may not help as the GOP tries to stop Democrats from flipping 23 GOP-held seats and taking a House majority. He could make it more likely that Republican voters stay home.
“The main risk of being overly optimistic is when candidates in tough races convince themselves that it’s true,” Kevin Madden, a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies and advisor to Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, told CNBC last month. “Buying into the idea of a red wave could lead to complacency in what is actually a very tough environment.”
Still, he noted that “there aren’t many Republican candidates or campaign staffers” who do not know the challenges facing them based on both history and this year’s electoral environment. If GOP candidates can effectively convey the risk of Democrats taking the House, it may not matter what Trump says.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request to comment on whether the president’s remarks could hurt Republican candidates.