GOP National Stage Fright

Democrats are feeling overconfident.  They won a hard-fought special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District in early March, then saw over a million people take to the streets in cities across the country to march for gun control some two weeks later.  Both are taken as signs of progressives’ organizational prowess and battle-ready morale.  Left-leaning commentators, meanwhile, tirelessly remind their audiences that President Trump’s job approval numbers remain around 40 percent in most polls.  Add the historical pattern of a sitting president’s party losing seats in midterm elections, and Democrats believe the House is already as good as theirs.

Republicans in Congress seem to believe this, too, to judge from the record large number of them who are seeking other offices or retiring outright.  As of late March, 37 House Republicans were not planning to run for re-election or had already resigned; at press time, only 16 House seats now held by Democrats were set to be open come November.  There have been rumors that the House speaker himself, Paul Ryan, might not run for re-election to his Wisconsin seat, or that he might resign his speakership ahead of the election in favor of Rep. Steve Scalise.

As a victim of a politically motivated shooting—by a left-wing gunman who attacked a congressional Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia,...

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