BY REID WILSON
Democratic enthusiasm and a GOP malaise surrounding President Trumphave set the stage for a potentially devastating midterm election for the House Republican majority.
In a series of special elections mostly in reliably GOP districts, Democratic candidates have routinely outperformed Hillary Clinton’s share of the vote from 2016.
At the same time, Republican candidates have underperformed President Trump’s vote share in all but two special elections.
If that pattern holds in November, the worst-case scenario for the GOP is a truly historic wipeout of as many as 72 House seats, according to The Hill’s analysis of special election results and congressional and presidential returns from 2016.
That would mark the deepest decline for either party in a single election cycle since Harry Truman ran against the “Do Nothing Congress” in 1948.
There are a number of reasons why the GOP’s worst-case scenario is unlikely to come to pass.
Turnout in November is likely to be higher, which could help the GOP. Republicans noted that Democratic voters in special election districts were far more likely to know when the elections would occur than Republican voters, a sign of Democratic enthusiasm.
Republicans, who have spent far more freely on special elections this year than have Democrats, will face a more even financial playing field.
And some candidates will inevitably run stronger, or weaker, than those who have run in the special elections this year.
Still, the special election results show a consistent pattern that is ominous for Republicans, confirming an enthusiasm gap that shows up in public and private polling. MORE: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/402329-worst-case-scenario-for-house-gop-is-70-seat-wipeout