The book of the 2018 national mid-term cycle has one more chapter.
The earlier chapters included retirements, resignations, sensational
allegations, special elections, heated primaries and a lot of wishful
thinking by partisans of both major political parties, and not a few in
the media. But now we come to the climactic moments when the key
players in this saga, the voters, show up for their decisive moment.
There have been numerous and contradictory omens about what will
be the election’s ending when the votes are tallied and reported.
For those who predict, and/or wish for, a “blue” result, there are the
closer-than-Trump’s 2016 margins in most of the special elections, the
higher than normal Democratic turnout in most primaries, the recent
published public opinion polls in many U.S. house races and some
senate races, and the tradition that first mid-term election of a new
president usually bring big gains to the opposition party.
For those who predict, and/or wish for, a “red” result, Republicans
won, albeit by smaller margins than previously, eight of nine of those
special elections, their turnout was also strong in many primary
states, especially “red” ones, public opinion polling of conservative
voters, particularly “likely” voters, has recently been notably inexact,
and the nation will probably be voting in a period of a strong economy,
a rising stock market and low unemployment.
A further advantage for the GOP, at least in the primary season, has
been the power of Mr. Trump through endorsements and rally
appearances to influence and bring out Republicans he favors in the
nominating stage of this cycle.
Democrats could argue, however, that the president’s disruptions
and successes during the primaries will work to their favor in the
general election when highly motivated liberal and progressive
voters will turn out to defeat Mr. Trump and his candidates.
Republicans argue that the new Bernie Sanders-styled radical wave
of candidates advocating single payer healthcare, “Medicare for all,”
unlimited legal immigration, abolition of I.C.E., and sanctuary cities
and states will turn off voters, especially independents, in November.
Democrats argue that those same issues will boost their totals.
The mathematics of the 2018 election clearly favor the Democrats in
U.S. house races because the GOP is defending many more seats. But
the opposite is true in the U.S. senate races where many more
Democratic incumbent seats are considered vulnerable.
Late-breaking developments reinforce those mathematics. Recent
public opinion polls are being interpreted as making more GOP
house incumbents vulnerable --- and three of the four previously
considered “safe” senate seats that are now thought to be “in play”
are Democratic seats (New Jersey, Michigan and New Mexico).
On the other hand, the polls might not be accurate, and many
Republican house members whose races are rated competitive might
win re-election easily. And just because a few Democratic senators’
races are now no longer rated “safe,” it does not mean they are going
Pick your ”omen” or pick your statistic, and you can make a case for
either a “blue” wave/surge or a “red” one. But with almost three
months to go, nothing is truly dispositive. A lot of voters in a volatile
cycle like this one make up their minds or change them just before
election day. The Democrats certainly might be able to win back the
U.S. house. or they might fall short. The Republicans certainly might
enlarge their slim U.S. senate majority, or they might not.
A great deal depends on what we do not know now. There could
even be a surprise ending in the last chapter.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.