Democratic expectations of capturing control of the Senate and scoring big gubernatorial wins are fading and the new war over ripping down statues to Confederate figures could prompt a voter backlash, according to two new election previews.
In Virginia, where voters elect a new governor this fall, the battle over statues is already picking up in the wake of the Charlottesville clash and a leading political watcher is predicting a danger zone ahead for Democrats.
"At least one Democrat working on this year's election expressed concern to us that Confederate nostalgia might redound in Republicans' benefit this year," according to Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, the University of Virginia Center for Politics weekly publication.
"He's worried that backlash over the removal of monuments might have an energizing effect on Republicans across the state and help juice turnout in a lower-turnout midterm election," Kondik wrote in the latest edition.
And it could spread, considering polling showing support for keeping statues up, even among 40 percent of blacks and Democrats. While he was focused about the Virginia race, Kondik wrote, "It's not hard to imagine the sight of protesters in Durham, N.C., tearing down a Confederate statue, particularly if repeated elsewhere, giving statue defenders a rallying cry and forcing Democrats to answer for the overreach of some elements on the left."
It is unclear yet if the debate will influence Senate races, but the latest Cook Political Report has made enough changes in its race betting that it is possible the GOP could add more seats to its 54, a potential crushing blow to Democratic hopes of taking control and killing President Trump's agenda.
While the Democrats have been crowing that Trump's polling woes will help torpedo Republicans in next year's elections, Cook's Senior Editor Jennifer E. Duffy moved four states in the GOP's direction.
She moved seats held by Democrats in Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana and North Dakota in the Republican's direction.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com