History demonstrates that off-year elections are frequently a referendum on the President’s popularity. According to The American Presidency Project, the President’s party has lost House of Representative seats in 18 of the last 21 midterm elections, dating back to 1934. The President’s party lost Senate seats in 15 of 21 elections.
If the past is prologue, Republicans should brace for losses this election cycle. President Trump’s approval rating has stayed consistently in the thirties. Gallup reports his approval rating averaged 38 percent throughout 2017.
Trump averaged below 40 percent in 18 states and between 40 and 49 percent in 20 states. Respondents in only 12 states give him an approval rating of 50 percent or better.
That is bad news for Republicans who will be on the ballot this year, unless you are in one of those 12 states where Trump does well. And that brings us to West Virginia.
The Mountain State continues to give Trump high marks. The Gallup Poll found that 61 percent of the West Virginians questioned approve of the job Trump is doing, 35 percent disapprove and four percent had no opinion.
Those are the best numbers for Trump in any state. North Dakota and Wyoming are next with 57 percent approval, followed by South Dakota at 54 percent.
Remember that Trump started out with incredibly high numbers in West Virginia. He carried the state in the 2016 election with 69 percent of the vote, second only to Wyoming at 70 percent.
Republicans running for the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in West Virginia know these numbers and you can already tell they are aligning themselves with Trump. You’ll hear Republican candidates say over and over that they are the best person to send to Washington to advance the President’s agenda.
They have a distinct advantage over Democrats in West Virginia, who for eight years had to distance themselves from President Obama because of his unpopularity in the state.
Democrats are desperate to reverse the electoral slide in West Virginia that started with George Bush’s defeat of Al Gore in 2000. The state has been in a steady transition from blue to red ever since.
The long-history of midterm term election results would normally buoy their hope for a breakthrough in 2018. However, the polls show Trump has established a safe harbor in West Virginia that provides a stable launch point for Republican candidates.