“[I]t’s far too early to make predictions about 2018,” said a second national Republican operative. “The stage is just not set yet. Of course, we all acknowledge there are clear challenges staring straight at us right now.”
Two things bolster the Republican optimists’ case. First, Trump was pronounced dead many times during the campaign, not infrequently by the Republican Party’s governing class and political consultants, yet his predicted demise never materialized. Second, Democrats have yet to win any of the special congressional elections that have taken place under Trump, with Republicans winning one in Montana with a candidate who had lost the gubernatorial race last year and was cited for misdemeanor assault against a reporter the night before voters went to the polls.
“You can watch how closely you hug him, but I wouldn’t run away from him,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “Trump may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is the cup of tea.”