Faced with a historically unpopular president and a stalled agenda, a growing number of Republicans in Congress are saying they will not run for re-election in 2018, increasing the odds that Democrats could retake the House in a wave election next year.
The latest to withdraw his bid is Michigan Republican Dave Trott, who was facing an uphill battle to re-election in a swing district. Trott joined the ranks of Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Dave Reichert of Washington, and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania—all of whom hail from what are expected to be highly competitive districts in next year’s midterms. Another Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, may also retire or run for the Senate, according to The New York Times. According to the Cook Political Report, Trott and Reichert’s districts are now toss-ups, while Dent’s previously solid red district has moved into the “leaning Republican” column.
Republicans in vulnerable districts have few good options as they head into 2018. Public sentiment typically turns against the party in control of the White House in midterm elections, and there have rarely been presidents as unpopular as Donald Trump. But as David Drucker reported for Vanity Fair last month, GOP consultants are still advising incumbents and potential candidates to stand by the president.
“Your heart tells you that he’s bad for the country. Your head looks at polling data among Republican primary voters and sees how popular he is,” one Republican strategist said. “It would be malpractice not to advise clients to attach themselves to that popularity.”