Podcast: What Defines a Political Wave in the House?
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 6

MARCH 14: Speaker Paul D. Ryan holds a press conference with House GOP leadership in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, as a television displays election results from the special election in Pennsylvania. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With President Donald Trump’s mediocre job ratings, Democrats’ advantage on the national generic ballot and success in special elections in Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk about a political wave. In this week’s Decoder, Roll Call elections analyst Nathan Gonzales, sitting in for David Hawkings, talks with Roll Call columnist Stuart Rothenberg about how many seats it takes to make a wave and which Republicans might survive.

Show Notes:

Trump Touts Putin Get-Together as Senators Warn of Electoral Threat
U.S. president doesn't mention Kremlin's election meddling as possible topic

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to discuss a list of issues, but he did not mention Russia’s election meddling. (\Adam Berry/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he likely will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to discuss a range of issues — but the Kremlin’s efforts to tinker with U.S. elections did not make his list of possible topics, even as Republican and Democratic senators urged vigilance against Russian attacks. 

Trump said that summit likely would occur “in the not too distant future.” Among the topics: an arms race the American president said is “is getting out of control.”

Mississippi Governor Expected to Appoint Hyde-Smith to Cochran Seat
Agriculture commissioner would fill seat until November special election

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is expected to be named to resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to fill resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat, according to The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger.

A Republican strategist confirmed Tuesday morning to Roll Call she’s likely to get the appointment Wednesday, but cautioned that the governor’s office hadn’t directly communicated those intentions yet.

Ferguson’s Primary Challenger Once Tried to Work for Him
Republican Philip Singleton sought job in Ferguson’s office before deciding to run against him

A primary challenger Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., previously sought a job with him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson’s Republican primary challenger is trying to take his job, but at one point he sought one in his office.

Philip Singleton met with Ferguson in July 2017 to discuss employment opportunities, a month after Singleton filed as a candidate, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Illinois Democrats Seek to Chip Away at Republicans’ House Majority
Second-in-nation primaries set stage for targeting GOP seats

Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in Illinois, where voters head to the primaries Tuesday. (Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are targeting four seats in Illinois, where voters will pick their nominees Tuesday in the second congressional primaries of the year. 

It’s an early test for the party’s ability to nominate candidates it thinks are viable in the general election. Unlike in Texas, which held the cycle’s first primaries two weeks ago, there are no runoffs in Illinois. So a simple plurality would be enough to advance to the November general election. 

Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats
Polling, election results, fundraising tend to point in one direction

President Donald Trump continues to define the landscape for this year’s midterms, which insiders predict will be favorable to Democrats in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed. The attitudinal evidence begins with national polling.

Democratic Campaigns Start Unionizing in #MeToo Era
Move could protect against sexual harassment and lead to better employee benefits

Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who is challenging Speaker Paul D. Ryan, says letting his campaign workers unionize was “a natural thing to do.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Randy Bryce’s campaign for Wisconsin’s 1st District was only two staffers deep, one of them told him he was thinking of forming a union.

“There wasn’t really thought involved,” said the Democrat challenging Speaker Paul D. Ryan about allowing his campaign staff to unionize.

Opinion: Putin’s Job Is Easy When Americans Do It for Him
Partisan maneuvering undermines the election process

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Vladimir Putin during an anti-Trump “March for Truth” rally on June 3, 2017, in New York City. Putin’s rigged re-election gives him time to meddle in elections elsewhere in world, Mary C. Curtis writes — but given the partisan efforts to affect outcomes in the U.S., he may have little to do here. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images file photo)

Russian president Vladimir Putin easily cruised to a fourth term this past weekend, surprising absolutely no one. The only nail-biters were how many people would head to the polls — always unpredictable when the victor is certain — and how completely Putin would trounce the token opposition. Now, presumably, the newly re-elected leader can turn his attention to meddling in elections in other countries.

Speaking of the United States, while both Democrats and Republicans would prefer a little more predictability in the November midterms, if not Russian-style oversight, it is members of the GOP who seem most nervous about the eventual outcomes, especially in close House races. And while the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was officially disbanded in January, its spirit lingers on in hints from officials that certain votes should count more than others.

Supreme Court Spikes Pennsylvania GOP’s Final Hopes Over New Map
Court-drawn map to take effect for 2018 midterms

The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC on December 1, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to block a new congressional map ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

The decision to turn down the application for stay killed the GOP’s final hope to block the lines drawn by the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court after it ruled the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s 2011 map represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

DSCC Updates Digital Ad Attacking GOP Health Care Plan
YouTube ad will reach targeted voters in key 2018 states

The DSCC, chaired by Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, above, is launching new digital advertising against the GOP health care plan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday is launching updated digital advertising against GOP efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

The DSCC is timing this latest advertising, shared first with Roll Call, to the rough one-year anniversary of when the GOP-controlled Congress started trying to repeal the 2010 health care law during the spring of 2017.