MILWAUKEE- A report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indicates that, though Speaker Paul Ryan would be tough to beat, Democrats have a fighting chance to take Wisconsin’s First Congressional District. With Ryan representing an unpopular Congress, with Ryan’s ties to Trump, and with very negative public perception of the Republican party, this district, which has been controlled by Republicans for over two decades, may be competitive again.

Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Democrats are vowing to make their biggest effort ever to knock off Republican Paul Ryan in 2018, hoping that an unpopular president, an unpopular Congress and controversial GOP policies will make him the second House speaker in more than a century to be defeated at the polls.

They have their work cut out for them.

Ryan cruised to a 35-point victory last fall, ran far ahead of Donald Trump in his southern Wisconsin district and has never won a re-election fight by fewer than 11 points.

But there are several big reasons why Ryan’s 2018 congressional race will be fascinating to watch, no matter how you handicap it.

First, it’s only Ryan’s second race as speaker and the first in which his party is wholly responsible for governing. That could nationalize his re-election contest in a way it never has been before.

Second, it will be a microcosm of broader forces at play in the 2018 midterms. To win back the House, Democrats will have to win some House districts like Ryan’s — modestly Republican and modestly pro-Trump last fall. A national tide will help Democrats in those races if Trump and his party are deeply unpopular next year.

At the same time, a very polarized political climate — like Wisconsin’s — makes it harder for one party to win on another party’s turf. That was one takeaway from the Democrats’ defeat last Tuesday in a fiercely contested special election for Congress in Georgia. . .

For Democrats, making the Ryan race competitive depends on at least two things. One is a very negative climate nationally for Republicans and Trump, which requires that things remain as bad for the party as they are now, or get worse. That is certainly plausible. Trump won Ryan’s district by 10 points last fall, but that was easily Trump’s smallest margin in any of Wisconsin’s five GOP House seats. While Democrats have lost several special elections for Congress this year in GOP-leaning districts, they are outperforming their historic support in those districts.

The other is erasing Ryan’s historic home field edge. Ryan has routinely and easily out-performed his party’s presidential and gubernatorial candidates in his district. His winning margin was 9 points bigger than GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s margin in the district in 2014 and 24 points bigger than Trump’s margin in 2016.

Democrats need the district’s voters to view Ryan not as the likable local, but as Trump’s political partner and enabler and the face of an unpopular Congress.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.