Democratic activists in Bethlehem, Pa., have convinced themselves that the stakes can't get any higher. If they are not successful in winning over voters in the city of about 75,000, their goals are more than likely to fall short.
They see this fall's midterm elections, just a little more than four months away, as the best and maybe last shot to push back against President Donald Trump and his agenda.
It's hard to disagree with them.
Democrats' road to winning back the House this fall begins in Pennsylvania, where a third of the 18 seats up for grabs are considered tight. The party needs to win 23 seats nationwide to flip the House and seize the majority.
At a week-ago meeting of Lehigh Valley ROAR — the Rally of American Resistance — local women discussed the problems they say the GOP-controlled government has created: inhumane immigration policy, rising health-care costs and more strained relations with global allies, among others.
Gathered in the Bethlehem living room of nurse Shirley Morganelli — complete with decorated cutouts of 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama — about 20 members listened to Democratic House candidate Susan Wild talk about how they can help her bid for Pennsylvania's 7th District seat through volunteering and word of mouth.
The area is a key swing district in this year's fight for House control. Some locals see aiding the Democrat as their most effective way to change the national discourse.
"She's our hope," one group member said of Wild. "Not to put too much pressure on you," Morganelli responded, to laughter around the room.
The exchange underscored how many on the political left see the midterms as a potential turning point in the effort to push back against Trump and Republicans in Congress.
For Democrats to take the majority in the House, they will need to win a number of districts roughly split by party allegiance. Those include eastern Pennsylvania's 7th District, which Wild hopes to represent, and the neighboring 1st District northeast of Philadelphia, where GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick aims to defend his seat.
The combination of the state Supreme Court revising a GOP-drawn congressional map and a midterm environment favorable to Democrats gives the party an opening to flip multiple House districts in Pennsylvania alone. Democrats in both the 7th and 1st Districts have enthusiasm to spare. They have also employed a strategy that the party considers a winning one in close races this year: tying the Republican tax law to efforts to cut social safety net programs.