Republicans are entering the final days of the campaign with a message they hope will win over wavering suburban voters — the economy is booming, don’t let Democrats ruin it — while echoing President Trump in stoking fears about undocumented immigrants to try to rile the GOP base.
Democrats are focused on female and independent voters angry with Trump, minorities and young people, hoping that coalition will turn out for the midterms and propel them to victory. The party has been especially focused on health care, warning that Republicans threaten a core provision of the Affordable Care Act — the protection for Americans with preexisting medical conditions.
Control of the House and Senate, along with 36 governorships, are at stake in Tuesday’s elections. The House majority will be determined in dozens of suburban districts across the country, while the future of the Senate is up for grabs in Republican-leaning states where Trump won in 2016 and his support is solid among rural voters.
In those suburban districts, the question is whether swing voters go with their wallets — the months of positive economic news of job and wage growth — or concerns about their health care.
“A booming economy or the radical policies of the liberal mob — that’s our choice,” says one GOP ad running on behalf of Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who represents the Cincinnati area.
Meanwhile, in the Chicago area, Democrats are blasting Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.) with an ad showing a child in a hospital bed: “Imagine watching him going without lifesaving treatment because it’s been denied by your insurance. That’s what Peter Roskam voted for.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said health care has been paramount, reflecting a concerted Democratic effort that started in the days after Trump’s election to preserve the ACA from Republican attempts to scrap or gut the law.
“It’s dominant because it’s dominant in the well-being of people’s lives,” she said in an interview Saturday. “It’s also dominant because we made it so.”
A Washington Post-ABC News national poll published Sunday found Democrats with a seven-point national advantage among likely midterm voters, which is in the range forecasters predict is necessary to flip control of the House. The lead is driven by an educational divide: Those with college degrees heavily favor Democrats.
The picture is more favorable for Republicans in the Senate, where Democrats are defending 10 seats in states Trump won. Many of those states are predominantly white and lean Republican, and Trump’s immigrant comments resonate.
John Rogers, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), predicted that the threat of a Democratic “resistance mob mentality” that would impede the Trump agenda, as well as policy proposals supported by some on the left, will swing persuadable voters and save the GOP’s eight-year House majority.
“I think the voters are out there seeing all this and saying, ‘Maybe I want a check and balance, but this is not what I want. This isn’t the check and balance,’ ” Rogers said.
Trump repeatedly casts Democrats as an angry mob while ratcheting up his false claims about the party wanting to allow millions of illegal immigrants into the country, including the thousands who are part of a migrant caravan slowly heading toward the border.
He also has proposed to end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
Other Republicans have joined Trump in seeking to energize the base with dark images of immigrants and references to the caravan.
Trump’s “doing that because they have nothing else to talk about,” said Dan Sena, director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). “The country does not support their tax package, and the country does not trust them on health care.”
Meanwhile, in Nevada, a Democratic super PAC is bombarding Sen. Dean Heller (R) with a spot saying he “puts his political party over your health care” and warning that GOP leaders are eyeing Medicare cuts.