On January 19, 2010, it was Democrats who were stunned, trying to pick up the pieces of their agenda and figure out what Republican Scott Brown's Senate win in the solidly blue state of Massachusetts would mean for the midterms.
We don't have to wonder about that outcome. President Obama famously calling it a "shellacking," in which Republicans picked up a net total of six seats in the Senate and 63 seats to win back control of the House.
But any Democrat who remembers that feeling that the bottom might be dropping out is now likely likely aflutter with potential for 2018 after Doug Jones’s almost unthinkable win in Alabama Tuesday night. The good news is that generic ballot (i.e. predictor of likely election outcomes) is looking pretty good for Democrats. While a new Monmouth poll released Wednesday put that generic ballot at +15 for Democrats, the FiveThirtyEight average of polls currently shows Democrats with a +11-point advantage.
That margin exceeds the +8 advantage David Wasserman at Cook Political Report has estimated Democrats need to win back the House in 2018.
Other indicators of course include Democratic v. Republican enthusiasm and Donald Trump's popularity, which is not only tanking nationally but sat at a stunning 48-48 approve/disapprove among Alabama voters according to exit polls, with only 32 percent saying they "strongly approve" of him while 41 percent said they "strongly disapprove."
Here’s Trump’s national outlook from Monmouth:
Then there’s the consistent red state deficit that has played out this year. Just look at how depressed the GOP margins were in these 2017 red state special elections compared to what they were last year.
2016 GOP MARGINS V. 2017 SPECIAL ELECTIONS
In every case, the Republican candidate this year posted a double digit decrease in margin compared to last year.
And now comes Democrat Doug Jones, who won by +2 points in Alabama after Republicans took the same seat last year by +28 points—that’s a 30-point deficit.
Whatever combination of Democratic enthusiasm/Republican depression that outcome represents, it’s a toxic brew for the GOP next year.