Optimism at RNC meeting, but chair says 2018 election 'is not going to be easy'

Republicans convening for their national party meeting in Washington this week struck notes of cautious optimism conc...

Posted: Feb 3, 2018 1:46 PM
Updated: Feb 3, 2018 1:46 PM

Republicans convening for their national party meeting in Washington this week struck notes of cautious optimism concerning the upcoming midterm election, even as forecasters expect a punishing year for the GOP.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel acknowledged Friday that the election "is not going to be easy," and noted historical instances of the party in power losing ground during a new president's first midterm election.

"Democrats are energized," McDaniel added, "and we need to outmatch them."

But committee leaders and state representatives remained upbeat about holding their majorities in Congress. Their outlook was buoyed in part by Republicans' successful push for tax reform late last year, as well as by record-breaking fundraising for the RNC.

"We know the midterms are tough here, but we're in a great position for that," said Bob Paduchik, the RNC's co-chairman. "Every midterm cycle for an incumbent party's president is difficult, but we're going into this election cycle in the best possible position we can."

The RNC met for its annual winter meeting following a tumultuous stretch for the committee, including the resignation last week of finance chair Steve Wynn, following a Wall Street Journal story that documented multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. On Friday, the committee officially approved his replacement: Todd Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, whom McDaniel hailed as a choice of "the highest caliber."

Fundraising has been a consistent bright spot for the committee, with the RNC announcing recently that it brought in $132.5 million last year -- a record for the committee in the year following a presidential election, and doubling the Democratic National Committee's fundraising on the year.

"I've never seen money come like it is, I've never seen the organization like it is, and I think you see that acknowledged by the Democrats," said J.L. Spray, a national committeeman from Nebraska. "There's quite a contrast."

Spray added, "I think this is going to be a good cycle, when it comes down to it.

Traditional predictors of election outcomes point to a challenging year for Republicans. The GOP has consistently trailed Democrats on the generic ballot, and President Donald Trump's approval ratings remain low relative to previous presidents. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates have over-performed in recent elections, including the Virginia governor's race.

Still, Republicans believe their successful tax reform push will pay political dividends in November, coupled with a booming economy.

"Why would you ever want to vote that out?" said Michael McDonald, chairman of the Nevada Republican Party.

One of the biggest drags on the GOP might be the leader of the party: Trump, whose approval ratings have stagnated in the mid-30s to low 40s in most public polling. His unpopularity poses a dilemma for some Republicans: to run with the President, or against him?

But among the committee and its members, there remained robust support for the President and confidence in how his record so far will play during the midterms.

"I think there's nothing to be afraid of in running for Trump if you focus on what's gotten done," said Robert Steele, a national committeeman from Michigan.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 148387

Reported Deaths: 3769
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto9874101
Hinds9821198
Harrison6982110
Jackson6218119
Rankin5417102
Lee498495
Madison4711106
Forrest375086
Jones352488
Lauderdale3412145
Lafayette319749
Washington3153107
Lamar286349
Oktibbeha243562
Bolivar240884
Lowndes232864
Neshoba2189118
Panola218849
Marshall211950
Leflore203490
Pontotoc199128
Monroe196077
Sunflower191055
Lincoln187865
Warren174157
Tate166951
Union165325
Pike160958
Copiah160440
Yazoo152939
Scott151829
Itawamba151134
Coahoma149543
Pearl River149467
Alcorn148228
Simpson146353
Prentiss143730
Adams139250
Grenada138845
Leake133243
Holmes127861
Tippah123730
George123524
Covington120938
Winston120024
Hancock117639
Wayne116923
Marion114846
Attala111234
Tishomingo108742
Chickasaw106932
Newton104229
Tallahatchie96727
Clay89927
Clarke89153
Jasper81722
Walthall76028
Stone75214
Calhoun73713
Montgomery72825
Carroll71415
Lawrence70714
Yalobusha70527
Smith70316
Noxubee70017
Perry65826
Tunica60219
Greene59722
Claiborne57916
Jefferson Davis56017
Humphreys53119
Amite52714
Benton49017
Quitman4846
Webster42314
Kemper42118
Wilkinson38722
Jefferson34711
Franklin3345
Choctaw3157
Sharkey30817
Issaquena1144
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 241957

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31809500
Mobile19651361
Madison12964148
Tuscaloosa12946154
Montgomery12263236
Shelby1016177
Baldwin857698
Lee771866
Morgan648050
Calhoun6215119
Etowah618266
Marshall618255
Houston522438
DeKalb480436
Cullman433442
Limestone418645
St. Clair413655
Elmore403764
Lauderdale396754
Walker3620111
Talladega347954
Jackson311723
Colbert306042
Blount287940
Autauga270442
Franklin250233
Coffee242015
Dale231754
Dallas225232
Russell22123
Chilton220638
Covington218034
Escambia197931
Chambers176450
Tallapoosa175491
Pike158114
Clarke157619
Marion137136
Winston131123
Lawrence126336
Pickens121618
Geneva12108
Marengo120224
Barbour117010
Bibb117017
Butler115341
Randolph101921
Cherokee101024
Hale96031
Clay91024
Washington90719
Fayette89316
Henry8526
Lowndes79429
Monroe78311
Cleburne76914
Macon73022
Crenshaw70930
Bullock69419
Conecuh68314
Perry6836
Lamar6678
Wilcox63118
Sumter57522
Greene42318
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
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