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GOP starts to hope Trump bounce-back can save the House

Alex Roarty and Katie Glueck, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

Meanwhile, progressive activists are motivated, turning out for top-of-the-ticket races in Virginia and Alabama as well as for local races up and down the ballot and across the country. No one knows just how many will show up in key races come November.

"We better be out there, definitely, selling the benefits of some of the good things that are happening, but we acknowledge that the left is energized right now," said Tim Phillips, the president of the major conservative organization Americans for Prosperity, speaking to reporters at a recent gathering of the influential Koch brothers' political network. "No question about that. It's not just marches and such that they're doing. It's showing in some of the recent elections."

-- Democratic primaries complicate the party's path to a majority

Democrats are delighted by a surge of candidates in 2018, happy to field credible contenders in places where until recently the party struggled to even compete.

But the abundance of candidates has also caused a logjam in dozens of key battlegrounds, raising the possibility that the best candidate -- or even the second or third best candidate -- might not make it to the general election. Compounding concern among some Democrats is the possibility that a hyper-competitive primary will drag the eventual nominee to the left on key policy questions that could come back to bite them in the general.

The concern is especially acute in California (host to more than a half-dozen battleground House races), where election rules stipulate that the top two vote-getters in the primary move on to the general election regardless of party. Especially in open-seat races, that means four or five Democratic candidates could split the vote to such a degree that a pair of Republican candidates could advance, even in a Democratic-leaning district.

Democrats say party leaders and the DCCC are doing their best to mitigate the possible damage.

"They're cognizant of that, and in their mind, they'd like to narrow the field," said one California Democrat strategist. "But there's only so much they can do, right?"

Still, Democrats say they've been pleased with how many primaries have developed, with the candidates thus far saving most of their ire for Trump and resisting a wholesale shift to the left.

"Whichever candidate comes out of the primaries will be a good Democratic candidate," said Brian Smoot, a former political director for the DCCC. "The fact so many of them are interested in running leads me to believe there's a lot of opportunities for Democrats on Election Day."

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