A look at the 2018 political landscape

Republicans don't have many factors working in their favor heading into the 2018 midterm elections, according to a "Face the Nation" political panel. Almost every event that has happened in 2017 has been politically bad for Republicans, and good for Democrats, said Dan Balz, political reporter for The Washington Post. 

President Trump's approval ratings are at an historic low among modern presidents, the generic House ballot for 2018 heavily favors Democrats over Republicans, and the enthusiasm gap appears to also be in Democrats' favor. On top of that, midterm elections are "almost never" good news for the president, said Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for The Washington Post. Only twice since 1934 has a president's party picked up seats in Congress during that president's first midterm election season. 

"The enthusiasm gap is really the biggest thing Republicans ought to be worried about right now," Tumulty said. 

Anthony Salvanto, CBS News' elections and surveys director, said "the math" in the Senate slightly favors Republicans. Most of the Senate seats up in 2018 are currently held by Democrats, and many of them are in states that Mr. Trump won. But the generic House ballot shows the pendulum swinging in the direction of Democrats. 

"It gives you a general sense of that direction, and it's no question that that direction is pointing toward Democrats," Salvanto said. 

One key for Democrats will be whether they can attract voters in wealthier suburbs who have voted for Republicans in the past, Salvanto said. 

"The interesting thing is going to be where they can start to try to persuade people," Salvanto said.

Watch the full panel discussion Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.