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this page updated May 24, 2018

Governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House Races

U.S. Senate  |  U.S. House  |  Governors

Will the Blue Wave Materialize or Can Republicans Defy History?

Buoyed by successes in 2017, Democrats are hoping for a wave election as happened in 2010.  Historically the president's party has not done well in the first midterms.  Democrats, particularly on the left, are energized (+); they have done well in the 2017 off-year elections (+) and in special elections (+).  Some see the prospect of not just a wave but a tsunami.  Many observers believe Democrats will be able to reclaim the majority in the U.S. House, but the Senate is seen as a much more difficult task. 

Trump confounded the pundits in 2016, and it is entirely possible that he could do so again.  The economy is, at a macro level, doing well.  Trump has followed through on major promises such as appointing conservative judges, cutting regulations and cracking down on illegal immigration.  At the same time there is the seemingly never-ending string of lies (>), outrages, and scandals, and the Mueller investigation looms ever present on the horizon (+). 

The myriad resistance efforts that sprang up in the aftermath of the 2016 election could help propel Democrats to victories in 2018. 
A record number of women are running for Congress, many of them Democrats.  The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers notes that some of the same factors that made 1992 the "Year of the Woman" are present in 2018: a large number of women candidates, a large number of oben seats, and men behaving badly (>).

However, Democrats face the danger of what Washington Examiner senior columnist Michael Barone termed "Trump Derangement Syndrome." 
If they are to achieve their wave ambitions in 2018, they will need to do more than just run against Trump.  Certainly there are plenty of issues to be discussed: the merits and effects of Republican tax cuts/"tax reform" (+), health care, immigration, gun control and 2nd Amendment rights, tariffs, and depending on how things play out, North Korea (+) and Trump's pullout from the Iran deal.  There are also those who want to talk about impeachmentbillionaire Tom Steyer has poured millions into his "Need to Impeach" campaign—but Democratic leaders and most Democratic candidates are not going that far, instead focusing on ethics and "the pay-to-play culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence embodied by the Trump Administration (+)". 

Congressional Democratic leaders have been unveiling a series of proposals under the rubric of "A Better Deal (>)."  The first of these, announced on July 24, 2017, was a "pledge to fight for good-paying, full-time jobs with a promising future for 10 million Americans – A Better Deal on Jobs."  A total of a dozen proposals have been released; the most recent of which, announced on May 22, 2018, is "A Better Deal for Teachers and Students."

The election cannot help but be a referendum on Trump, but it will also be a referendum on Democrats. 
Republicans have a prime target to motivate their base: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Pelosi is a stereotypical San Francisco liberal.  There was some talk among Democrats in the first part of 2017 about the need to replace her, but that petered out following their successes in the off-year elections.  Pelosi is also a strong fundraiser.  If Democrats fall short in 2018, their decision to stick with Pelosi rather than present a new face will be seen as a key factor.  For all the talk of Democrats being more energized, Republicans do have a strong motivation of their own.  They have largely thrown their lot in with Trump and know that loss of the House could seriously imperil the Trump agenda.  Democrats would take over committee chairmanships and have subpoena power.  Trump himself is leading the Republican effort, motivating his base, holding rallies and fundraising (1, 2).  In Jan. 2018, The Hill reported that the Koch network "will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle (>)."  Conservative media, led by FOX News and talk show hosts around the country, are reinforcing the message (+).  The Republican National Committee seems to be doing well, pointing to record fundraising, while fundraising at the Democratic National Committee has been lackluster (+). 

U.S. Senate
Of 35 seats at stake, 24 are held by Democrats, two others by Independents who caucus with the Democrats, and nine by Republicans.  While Democrats only need a net gain of two seats, due to the map they face long odds in achieving that goal. 

Party CommitteesDSCC  [Organization]   |   NRSC  [Organization]   |   FEC 
Key Super PACs:  D - Senate Majority PAC (+)   |   R - Senate Leadership Fund

U.S. House

Democrats need a net gain of about two dozen seats.  More than twice as many Republican Members than Democrats are retiring.

Party Committees
:  DCCC  [Organization]   |   NRCC  [Organization]  |   FEC
Key Super PACs:  D - House Majority PAC    |   R - Congressional Leadership Fund
see also: Roll Call's Casualty List
FairVote: Monopoly Politics


Of 36 seats at stake, Republicans hold 26, and half of those will be open (12 term-limited and 1 retirement).

Party CommitteesDGA  [Organization]   |   RGA  [Organization]
More:  NGA   |   Center on the American Governor
PrognosticatorsLarry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball   |   The Cook Political Report

More Statewide
Party Committees:
Republican State Leadership Committee   |   RLGA   |   RSSC
Republican Attorneys General Association
Democratic Attorney Generals Association
Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association

Democratic Association of Secretaries of State
MoreNLGA   |   NAAG   |   NASS

State Legislatures
Per the NCSL, legislative races in 46 states (88 legislative chambers) will be held.  6,066 seats are up for regular election—some of these will be uncontested—and there are special elections due to vacancies.

Party Committees
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee   |   Republican State Leadership Committee / RLCC
NCSL2018 Legislative Races by State and Legislative Chamber

Initiatives and Referenda

NCSLStatewide Ballot Measures Database
Ballotpedia2018 Ballot Measures
Initiative & Referendum Institute
Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (progressive)

More Links
2018 Libertarian Party Candidates
2018 Green Party Candidates
Constitution Party
Unite America (supports independent candidates; formerly The Centrist Project)
CAWP Election Watch
The Pro-Truth Pledge

The Cook Political Report
The Rothenberg Political Report
Sabato's Crystal Ball

Primary Dates





Nov. 6
no primaries in April or July.         
NCSL Primary Dates


A Referendum on Donald Trump (and Nancy Pelosi)

To what extent have Republican primary candidates sought to align with Trump?  Trump threw his support behind a few candidates in the primaries such as Lou Barletta (PA), Jim Renacci (OH) and Ron DeSantis (FL), and various clips and mentions of Trump appear in their ads.  One of the more dramatic demonstrations of support for Trump came from Rep. Todd Rokita; although Trump did not endorse Rokita, for one ad in his unsuccessful Senate primary campaign in Indiana, Rokita donned a MAGA hat.  In other Republican primary ads, candidates accuse their opponents of not being sufficently pro-Trump. 

Lou Barletta for Senate (PA)
"The Lottery Winner" May 1, 2018

Renacci for Ohio
"Jim Renacci: Ohio First" May 2, 2018


Hoosiers for Rokita (IN)
"MAGA"  April 9, 2018

Raúl Labrador for Governor (ID)

Kelli Ward for Senate (AZ)
"Pretender" Jan. 12, 2018

In the general election how much will Democrats rely on attacks on Trump?

Northam for Governor (VA)
"Standing"  Nov. 2, 2017

     Republicans and their allies will brand many Democratic candidates as "Pelosi liberals."

Congressional Leadership Fund
"Sanctuary Cities"  Feb. 28, 2018
from the Mar.13, 2018 special election in PA-18.

Hoosiers for Rokita (IN Sen.)
"Fight Back"  Feb. 28, 2018

Matt Rosendale for Senate (MT)
"Stepped in It"  May 13, 2018