Trying to counter the widening narrative that the House may be lost cause in November, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is launching a new $250 million initiative to protect it. The blueprint is especially focused on trying to save Republicans in states where Trump is widely despised, including California where Trump’s approval is a dismal 30 percent.
“Facing the prospect of a blue wave this fall, the White House’s political arm is devoting unprecedented resources to building an army of paid staff and trained volunteers across more than two dozen states,” the Associated Press reported on Monday. “Much of the national GOP’s resources are focused on protecting Republican-held House seats in states including Florida, California and New York.”
The deep-pocketed roll-out comes just days after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced his retirement. It was move that almost nobody thinks he would have taken if he thought Republicans would be in control of the House next year.
“By stepping aside, the speaker is essentially conceding the fact that Democrats will take over the House in November,” noted Politico’s Tim Alberta. As one GOP consultant told him, “The House is gone.”
Despite the general consensus that the House is a lost cause, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is trying to put a positive spin on it.
“Our sweeping infrastructure, combined with on-the-ground enthusiasm for President Trump and Republican policies, puts us in prime position to defend our majorities in 2018,” McDaniel said.
As the AP notes, the RNC’s strategy is expensive and risky and “puts tremendous pressure on the president and senior party leaders to raise money to fund the massive operation.”
And it still might not be enough. More than three dozen Republican members of Congress are retiring ahead of the building blue wave.
The GOP faces a monumental task in November, and especially in blue states, as well as states like Florida, which Trump won in 2016, but his approval rating has since cratered, falling 20 points between 2017 and 2018.
For instance, the non-partisan Cook Reports lists 26 competitive House races just in the states of California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
In theory, it’s possible that Democrats could flip the House by winning the competitive races in just those four states. They need 24.
Southern California has a particularly high number of Congressional districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 occupied by embattled Republicans. In Orange County alone, there are four such seats. Two Republicans, Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, chose to retire rather than face re-election. Their seats are prime pick-up opportunities for Democrats.
Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) is struggling due to unpopular votes around repealing the Affordable Care Act and a flailing tax bill, as well as the fact that she votes the way Trump wants her to 99 percent of the time. Her penchant for running away from constituents who simply ask basic questions is unlikely to sit well with voters.
The RNC’s latest plan comes as some Republicans leaders continue to signal that the best strategy might be to concede the loss of the House and instead spend the party’s time, money and resources on trying to preserve the GOP’s slim margin in the Senate.
Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned that the party could be a facing a “Category 3,4 or 5” storm come November.
At the same time, older, white, educated voters, who helped elected Trump in 2016, are now “trending toward Democrats in such numbers that their ballots could tip the scales in tight congressional races from New Jersey to California,” Reuters reports, based on its latest polling date.
Just how much money is the GOP willing to throw at its House problem?
Dan Desai Martin contributed to this article.