Mackinac Island — Ronna Romney McDaniel is counting on a strengthening economy going into 2018 to overcome the mid-term curse typically suffered by the party in power in Washington and make up for dismal job approval numbers of President Donald Trump.
“When you look at the unemployment rates, when you look at the consumer confidence, the Dow, some of the other indicators, people are feeling good about where the economy is and the president’s performance,” the National Republican Committee chair said at the start of the state GOP leadership conference here. “We’ll see if we can get tax reform, if we can push forward some of the key promises we made, we’ll see where the base is and if they feel their lives have been impacted.”
Romney cautions that the election is still a long ways off, and it’s too early to worry about presidential popularity numbers and whether they rub off on GOP candidates in 2018.
“From a party perspective, our focus right now is building the infrastructure for the election, which we have to do with data collection, identifying our likely voter universes in battle ground states, identifying our swing voter universe and then creating a ground game to turn out our voters, which has been the strength of the Republican Party the last two cycles.”
“If we can turn out voters better than they can, we can have success.”
Romney says she’s sensed no drop-off of support for Republicans among the base that carried Trump to office.
“We conduct voter scoring in all the big states monthly, and we are not seeing a big drop-off with the base,” the Michigan resident and former state party chair said. “We’ve seen independents fade away, but independents do fade away between elections, and they dial back in a couple of months before. It’s going to be where the economy is then and what policies have been put in place.”
Romney McDaniel expects Senate races to be candidate-specific, and congressional racers will hinge on how voters feel about Washington. And she doesn’t think Republicans will run away from Trump.
“I expect candidates to be running with the president,” she said. “The president will be out on the campaign trail doing whatever he can to keep majorities in both the House and the Senate. In the Senate, we have the best math we’ve had in 70 years.”
“There are 10 states President Trump won that have Democratic incumbents where we have real pick-up opportunities — Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, Montana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida.”
Romney McDaniel judges enthusiasm for the Republican Party by fundraising dollars.
“We’ve outpaced the Democrats significantly,” she says. “At the Republican National Committee, we’ve raised 93.9 million, and the Democrats have raised half that, and our cash on hand is almost seven times greater.”
And the GOP is already spending the money.
“We’re already investing on the ground in 25 states building out our data game,” she said.
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