Friday, July 21, 2017

2018 may be difficult to project...

So the consensus is pretty clear. The unpopularity of Donald Trump spells doom for the GOP in the upcoming 2018 election. In fact, according some... this could be an electoral blow out of epic proportions.

Perhaps... but there are some significant differences between this particular midterm and the midterms what showed true wave election for the Party out of power.

2016 wasn't normal: Let's start with the fact that President Trump wasn't exactly wearing a coat with very long tails during the 2016 election. One of the main reasons you see a midterm loss for the Party in power is that it's a natural reaction to the previous cycle. The Party that  wins the Presidency usually wins quite a few seats in both chambers of congress (Democrats gained 8 Senate and 21 House seats in 2008). In essence they are pulling that pendulum pretty hard in their general direction. Of course, given the nature of elections in what is basically a 50/50 country, a swing back is inevitable. Usually in that first mid-term.

The problem here for Democrats is that there was not any pulling of that pendulum to the Republican side. Not only did the President not win the popular vote, but Republicans lost seats in both the Senate (2) and the House (6). To some degree, the results of the election were more in line with a Democratic Presidential win. Certainly had Clinton won the Presidency, it's very likely we would be talking about significant GOP gains. But there is little reason to believe that there will be any natural gravity pull towards the Democrats based on a course correction from the previous election.

The last time we had a President lose the popular vote as well seats in congress was 2000 with President Bush. In 2002, the GOP managed to win small margins in both the House and the Senate, avoiding any mid-term crash.

Partisanship becoming stronger: The Democrats essentially own nearly all of the Senate seats in states considered Blue or Democratic. There are simply not any opportunities in this election cycle to pick off a blue state Republican. The closest thing they have is Nevada, which was won by a marginal margin by Clinton. Arizona is next in line, where Trump won by just under four points. With partisanship as strong as it is in 2017, the concept of convincing Republicans to vote Democrat (or visa versa) is a difficult prospect. Considering how many red state Democrats are defending their seats in 2018, the Democrats will be required to spend a lot of resources playing defense.

Moreover, there have been multiple polls showing that Trump is still popular (or at least over 50%) in congressional districts that he won. If this holds true through next November, then Democrats picking up seats in Trump congressional Districts may be harder than some might think. Once again, there are limited opportunities in districts won by Clinton. Let's not forget to weigh in the very large advantages of incumbency in House elections.

Republicans are still enthusiastic: There have been some very recent polls suggesting that there simply isn't any enthusiasm gap for the Democrats, which is somewhat unusual for a the Party out of power. But I think this comes from the very aggressive "resistance" strategy being played by the Democrats and liberal community.  By thwarting everything that the Republicans are trying to accomplish, it keeps the GOP base fired up. While they may be somewhat frustrated with their own Party, they still want to get stuff done. The reality is appearing as if they need "larger"  majorities (at least in the Senate) to do so. At least that will be the argument.

Contrast that with the first couple of years under Barack Obama, where they had 59-60 Senate seats and a large House advantage. They were able to get a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package passed, as well as Obamacare. To some degree, there was satisfaction among the rank and file Democrats. Few things are worse for motivation than satisfaction or complacency. You will find neither satisfaction or complacency from the right. They are fired up.  At the end of the day, the "resistance" movement may be working as matter of blocking policy, but it may not be the best electoral strategy.

Bottom line: What you tend to see from those arguing that 2018 will be a big win for the Democrats is a lot of "looking back" at previous elections (excluding 2002) and the citation of electoral "norms". In other words, you hear a lot about Party out of power, Presidential approval, and other generic arguments as to why the Democrats will win big. What you will not find is many people making the argument of a big Democratic win based on the specifics of the 2016 election results and the specifics of the 2018 election breakdown.

If you put a gun to my head and asked me to make a prediction, I would offer a mixed bag. I believe that the Democrats should consider something close to a "wash" as a win in the Senate. I think it's more likely than not that the GOP picks up a seat or two. On the flip side, I would expect at least some moderate gains in the House for the Democrats. Probably not enough to make Nancy Pelosi speaker, but enough to make it even harder for the GOP to govern.


good old gentle decent democracy minded James said...

My 97 year old NC father, who is no Obama fan, has decided he is no Trump fan either. He doubts whether Republicans will ever get back into power after this.

Loretta said...

"good old gentle democracy minded decent James"

Doesn't exist.

He's just an old vindictive man who loves swooning over stories about pedophilia.

opie said...

He's just an old vindictive man who loves swooning over stories about pedophilia.

The blather continues unabated... At least spicer smartened up, something you will never do!!!!1 Cue the blather of forgot something. Idiot.

PNC said...

Basically, a whole bunch of verbiage that can be summed up with "We can dismiss any predictions based on reality because 2016 was so surreal".

What's conveniently left out of this analysis is that what made the 2016 election unique was the kind of stuff that basically puts an asterisk next to Trump and the Republicans' Congressional majority. Stuff like winning the White House by only a few thousand votes in 3 states while losing the popular vote by 3 million.

The bizarro factor of 2016 makes it an aberration, not the beginning of a trend.

The Republican Party is on a downward spiral, and if anything, winning in 2016 only to display staggering incompetence and moral bankruptcy under the most unpopular President* in history has sped their downfall.

Commonsense said...

There's nothing like being fortunate in your opponents and the Democrats current "resist Trump" strategy is dooming them to failure in the mid-terms.

That's about the only thing that is saving the Republican's bacon at this point.