I have already written about the one area where Republicans have
the advantage in the 2018 mid-term cycle --- the contests for control
of the U.S. senate. As election day nears, this advantage seems to be
holding, although the dimensions of GOP senate gains won’t be clear
until the votes are counted.
Otherwise, Republicans are on the defensive --- in the contests for
control of the U.S. house, governorships, and control of state
The Democrats’ advantage is considerable, and has led to the
widespread conventional wisdom that the liberal party will regain
control of the U.S. house, perhaps by a clear margin. It is also expected
that Democrats will make big net gains in governorships and state
legislatures. Most of this consensus was built early in the cycle when
it seemed that only the Democratic Party base would have a high
turnout, and when an establishment media campaign promoting an
inevitable “blue wave” was ubiquitous.
Late in the cycle, however, the confirmation hearings for Justice
Brett Kavanaugh took place, and liberal efforts to block him not only
failed, but managed to wake up the conservative electorate. President
Trump then embarked on a relentless series of enthusiastic rallies
in states with competitive races, and a caravan of thousands of
Central American migrants made its way to the southern U.S. border,
vowing to enter the U.S.
These developments have put the Democratic gubernatorial advantage
at some risk.
Republicans (not all of whom are conservatives) are doing unexpectedly
better than expected in both blue and red states. GOP incumbents have
commanding leads in Maryland and Massachusetts, both very blue
states, and GOP challengers are doing well in Oregon, Connecticut and
Minnesota. They are also competitive in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada
where Democrats hope for pick-ups. A Republican pick-up also seems
quite possible in Alaska, which had been expected to re-elect the only
independent governor in the nation.
Nonetheless, Democrats seem also certain to make net gains in
governorships this cycle --- which is important because governors
usually play important roles in new-decade redistricting of the U.S.
house. Among the usually red states, Democrats have strong
candidates in Iowa, Ohio, Kansas. South Dakota, Oklahoma and
Georgia, and also have opportunities for pick-ups in Wisconsin, and
In the critically important contests for control of the U.S. house, only
the size of Democratic net gains seems to be in doubt. The conventional
wisdom of liberal takeover, however, has become muddled as many
close house races have tightened sharply at the end of the campaign.
Many, if not most, of the potential pick-ups are in red or purple
districts, and these are the ones which have become closer. President
Trump’s personal campaign to nationalize the 2018 election is likely
responsible for part of this. There are also questions about the
accuracy of some polling this cycle.
President Trump has put his political reputation on the line. If the
Democrats win clear control, it could have a negative impact for his
announced 2020 re-election campaign. If somehow, Republicans
keep control, it could be a big boost for him in two years, especially
if GOP control of the U.S. senate is significantly increased by 3-5
seats (or more).
Hours from election day, both sides are holding their political breath
awaiting the voters’ verdict. Talk of waves, blue or red, has receded,
but expectations of a national judgment on President Trump and his
administration have only been increased.
This judgment, however, as it was in 2016, will not be an overall one,
but rather, it is important to note, a judgment state by state.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.