Behind the scenes, the White House and congressional Republicans are pointing fingers at each other for causing conditions that could give Democrats control of the House and maybe even the Senate.
According to a Friday Hill report, each side has a central argument to its case.
The White House pins the blame on the high number of Republican retirements, as well as lackluster fundraising for those who did stick around to campaign.
Congressional Republicans and their advisers say that President Donald Trump and his dismal poll numbers have made for a toxic environment in which usual boons like a roaring economy get overshadowed by scandal and controversy.
“We should be talking about the economy but we’re easily distracted,” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), told the Hill. “That’s essentially the advice that was given two years ago when the Billy Bush incident came out: Everybody better take care of their own district because we’re not sure where this is gonna go.” Ross is one of many Republicans not seeking reelection.
“The blame lies with the president,” a GOP strategist added to the Hill. “He is the one taking the party off-message every day. Focus groups show that most voters don’t care about Russia, but what they don’t like is the president tweeting falsehoods and the general chaos that he creates every day.”
The White House and its allies take a different line.
“The incumbents haven’t done a good enough job supporting the president and championing his successes. They’re sort of avoiding it all, and I think that’s a mistake,” said Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign adviser.