But why do they need a win at all?

In 2018, Republicans will be playing on home turf, with only eight Senate seats out of 33 to defend, six of them impregnably safe. And while the Democrats have an advantage in generic polling in the House, they probably need as much as a five-point lead to have a chance to take over the chamber. In the absence of either a raft of Republican retirements or a “wave” of Democratic enthusiasm, the Republicans can hang on by playing defensively. So why go on offense with a bold agenda?

Trying to do things only gives the other party a target to shoot at. And from the war in Iraq to the bailout of the collapsing American financial system, the initiatives of the last Republican administration have not proved enduringly popular, to say the least. By contrast, if the Democrats have to run against a do-nothing Republican Congress, then the burden is on them to demonstrate plans that are popular with the American people. Most Americans don’t think they have any — they think the Democrats’ agenda is just trying to defeat Trump. In a purely negative election battle like that, the Republicans have a long track record of success.