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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Why it’s too early to take 2018 GOP jitters seriously

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. listens on Capitol Hill

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. listens on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Jan. 7, 2015 photo. Photo Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

Insiders are buzzing about the prospect of Republicans losing House seats next year if GOP President Donald Trump doesn’t start to improve his approval ratings and rack up accomplishments.

“The majority is not safe,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told Politico. “We need to be more constructive legislatively and there are going to be political implications if we don’t.”

But the Republicans need not worry too much just yet.

For one thing, we heard the same fears expressed well into last year’s election when Trump trailed in the polls.

For another, Republicans hold a hefty margin of 246-187 in the House. Even if they lose a cluster of seats in midterm elections, they will retain a majority.

And in competitive districts, Democrats look as beatable as usual for now.

After all, this worried-about-Trump story line emerges the same week that a Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 67 percent of all respondents agree the Democratic Party is out of touch with most peoples’ concerns.

That includes 44 percent of Democrats, the poll noted.

While 62 percent of all respondents said the same thing about the GOP, only 30 percent of Republicans agreed their party is out of touch with most people’s concerns.

Internal Democratic sniping persists between Hillary Clinton loyalists and Sen. Bernie Sanders backers, who disagree on what priorities the party should set.

Sanders — who is an independent, not an enrolled Democrat — has stood by Heath Mello, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, who some party activists reject for his anti-abortion stances.

“If you have a rally in which you have the labor movement and environmentalists and Native Americans and the African-American community and the Latino community coming together saying, ‘We want this guy to become our next mayor,’ should I reject going there to Omaha?” Sanders asked Sunday.

“I don’t think so.”

The congressional race in Georgia for the seat vacated by Tom Price, who became Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, prompts talk of implications for 2018. Though it is a Republican seat, Democrat Jon Ossoff fell just shy of winning it outright last week in a primary vote, and now heads to a runoff against Republican Karen Handel.

But even if Ossoff wins, any meaning for future races is hazy. Local contests often hinge on the pluses and minuses of individual candidates, regional issues, and the way district lines are drawn.

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