In the House at least, things continue to get worse for the GOP as Republicans are scrambling to save their most important districts (like Pete Sessions in Texas) from surprise Democratic wins and abandoning more and more of the races they feel they've already lost.
As they brace for losses in the House of Representatives, Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas, like Mr. Sessions’s seat, that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races.
Republicans steering the House effort, who insisted on anonymity to discuss party strategy, believe that by intensifying their efforts in a smaller number of districts, they can limit Democratic gains to perhaps 20 seats on Nov. 6 — just short of the 23 seats Democrats need to take over the House. Party leaders are counting on a surge of energy from conservative voters to repel Democrats in many of the redder districts on the House map, so that they can concentrate their advertising on teetering purple seats.
Republicans in Congress and the White House see a Democratic takeover in the House as a mortal threat, potentially allowing the opposition party to bring the Republican agenda to a halt and launch far-reaching investigations that could put the Trump administration under siege.
The Republicans know that if the Democrats get the House back, the game is over. They will sacrifice whoever it takes in order to save that crumbling majority.
Party strategists said several other incumbents must recover quickly or risk losing funding, including Representatives Peter Roskam of Illinois and Mimi Walters of California, who represent white-collar suburbs near Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively.
Former Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the G.O.P. might be helped by the renewed energy of its base following the battle over Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but he added that independent voters remained a challenge.
“You want to hold your losses to 20 or 22,” Mr. Davis said, underscoring Republicans’ vanishingly thin margin for error. “This is the kind of year where Republican are going to have to give up on some races and they’re going to have to make some hard choices.”
Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the Republican committee, said the party is continually “evaluating the best way to use our resources and the best paths forward” to defending the House.
“Our number-one goal, above all, is keeping the majority,” Mr. Gorman said.
In a memo circulated to Republican donors this week, Corry Bliss, who helms the Congressional Leadership Fund, a powerful super PAC supporting House Republicans, laid out the party’s precarious position. Mr. Bliss said the Supreme Court fight had boosted Republican enthusiasm and a few vulnerable incumbents were looking stronger in polling, including Representatives Will Hurd of Texas and Andy Barr of Kentucky.
But Mr. Bliss said Republicans were facing a “green wave” of Democratic money, as Democratic challengers raise enormous sums online and donors like Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, pour millions into anti-Republican ads.
Democrats have the money to play both offense and defense, Republicans are reduced to defense, and in smaller and smaller numbers. They can give away 22 seats at most, and they are looking to stack those unfortunates as a wall of bodies to protect the rest.
We'll see if it works. If the Democrats can break through that wall, the Republicans could lose it all.