With Mr. Trump more popular than Mr. Obama just before the 2010 midterms, Republicans just might retain a House majority too, but if they do it, it will be close. Even if they don’t and Democratic gains there are balanced by Republican gains in the Senate, it is simply not a blue wave and is just a typical midterm adjustment by voters. What this would suggest is that Mr. Trump, or at least his policies, are much more popular than his media detractors believe.
This cycle was always going to be more difficult for Democrats than they thought. Even though the progressive agenda is embraced with almost religious totality by electoral supermajorities on the coasts and in many cities it is deplored almost everywhere else. That conflict is the basis for the sharp division in our politics. Democrats made a strategic error with the failed character assassination of Brett Kavanaugh. The viciousness of the choreographed, late-in-the-process attacks and Democrats’ rush to jettison the presumption of innocence disgusted many people who might otherwise have been more open to the Democrats’ message. And it did what Republicans had been unable to do for themselves: galvanize their base.