âThe party needs to be extremely careful,â said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist in Kentucky who is close to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader. He warned that if Congress switched hands, Democrats would move to impeach Mr. Trump. âYou do not want to put yourself in a situation to give the Democrats an opening to ruin this presidency,â he said.
Thirty-four senators â 25 aligned with the Democrats and nine Republicans â are up for re-election next year. While Democrats are defending 10 seats in states won by Mr. Trump, only one Republican â Senator Dean Heller of Nevada â is seeking re-election in a state carried by the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Heller has drawn a primary contest from Danny Tarkanian, a lawyer and the son of a well-known basketball coach; Mr. Tarkanian, a perennial candidate, has been described as a cheerleader for the Trump White House. In Arizona, Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican who has been harshly critical of Mr. Trump, is being challenged by Kelli Ward, a strongly conservative former state senator and osteopathic physician. Mr. Trump has made no secret that he favors Dr. Ward.
âGreat to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. Heâs toxic!â the president wrote on Twitter this month.
In his first seven months as president, Mr. Trump has generally drawn high job approval ratings among Republicans. But a national survey made public Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that nearly a third of Republicans said they agreed with the president on only a few or no issues, and a majority expressed mixed or negative feelings about his conduct as president.
At the same time, the party in power typically loses electoral seats during a midterm election. And while Republicans feel bullish about the prospect of unseating Democrats in red states like Missouri and Indiana,…