Wednesday, June 20, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: What Is A "Wave" Anyway?

I am pleased and honored to announce that the website Ballotpedia
has invited me to become a regular contributor for their coverage
of the 2018 national midterm elections. I will continue my opinion
journalism and election coverage at The Prairie Editor as well.
Describing itself as “the online encyclopedia of American politics,”
Ballotpedia is a uniquely comprehensive and non-partisan website
for accurate information about U.S. local, state and elections. I
know of no better site of its kind on the internet.

As an example of their fine work, Ballotpedia has just published an
excellent study entitled “Wave Elections 1918-2016” written by Rob
Oldham and Jacob Smith ( ). Although there is
no official definition of a wave election, this well-researched and
very thorough report is about as close as perhaps one can get to a
useful definition. Please go to their website to read it.

As my Prairie Editor readers know, I have been discussing the
many current allegations of a coming wave election in 2018 for
several months. I particularly have questioned those commentators
who have asserted that a so-called “blue (Democratic) wave” is
coming in November. I have suggested that the direction might even
be towards a “red (Republican) wave” --- or most likely, to no wave
at all, with each side make gains in some sector.

The Oldham-Smith report indicates that the latter is indeed the
most likely. Specifically, it defines a wave election against the
president’s party as the net pick-up of 48 seats in the U.S. house
7 seats in the U.S. senate, 7 governorships and 494 state legislative
seats. These numbers are based on all elections since Woodrow
Wilson’ second term as president.

Currently, Republicans have the lead in all these categories, and
are, with one exception, vulnerable to net mid-term losses ---
which is typical for a new president’s first mid-term election.
But the data from the individual state primaries so far are quite
mixed, including irrefutable evidence that Republican voters not
only continue to support Mr. Trump, but are turning out to vote.
Democrats are also motivated, mostly by their antipathy to the
president, but there are so far no clear signs of what will really
happen next November. In particular, Republicans are poised to
make significant gains from their current 51-49 advantage in the
U.S. senate because of the many more Democratic incumbent
seats up in this cycle -- many of which are vulnerable to GOP

An interesting take-away from the Ballotpedia wave definition is
that Democrats could pick up 24 seats, only half those needed
for a true wave, and regain control of the U.S. house while, at the
same time, Republicans could pick up 7 or more U.S. senate seats.

Although President Trump is not on the ballot this November, he
remains a central force in the 2018 mid-terms. Nonetheless, the
common sense definition of a wave election, indicates that the
constant mention of “waves” is more a distraction than it is
useful. More illuminating, probably, will be the discussion of the
local circumstances, the individual candidates, and the issue
dynamics of each race --- as well as national trends.

That will be my emphasis in what I discuss in Ballotpedia, and
what I will, of course, continue to do in The Prairie Editor.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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