WASHINGTON — After a turbulent first year confronting friendly fire from President Trump, Senate Republicans are entering the summer before the midterm elections feeling more hopeful about retaining their narrow majority than at any time since the president’s election. And for good reason.
Mr. Trump is enjoying a modest increase in his approval ratings this year and, as important, is attacking Democrats rather than inciting the internecine feuds that could depress Republican turnout. The economy continues to grow, as demonstrated by Friday’s unexpectedly strong jobs report, while unemployment has fallen to levels unseen since 2000.
Republicans, already on the offensive thanks to a Senate map that includes 10 Democratic-held seats in states Mr. Trump won, have seen nearly every electoral variable turn in their direction in recent months: They have averted disaster in the West Virginia primary, successfully recruited their preferred candidates in North Dakota and Florida, and watched a renegade Republican challenger wane in one of Mississippi’s two Senate races.
This past week brought two developments that drew little attention for their Senate implications but could prove pivotal in November.