The media, political operatives and interest groups are each trying
to hoist red, blue or white flags for the outcome of the 2018 national
mid-term elections, but no wind yet exists to make these flags wave.
The primary season is almost over, and both major parties have
results to cheer about, but there is no solid evidence of any imminent
“wave” election, or even a decisive result for one side or the other.
In the U.S. house elections, Democrats are optimistic they will not
only make notable gains, but might win back control. Part of their
success in the primaries was in fielding moderate liberals in
battleground districts held by Republicans. At the same time,
however, in other districts, they fielded far left or radical candidates
who are unlikely to win in November. Overall, the political
mathematics favors the liberal party, but economic conditions
continue to favor the conservative party.
In the U.S. senate elections, Republicans are optimistic they can
enlarge significantly their very narrow current majority. In the
primaries so far, the GOP has seemed to field its strongest
nominees, avoiding their missteps in recent past midterm
elections when flawed candidates were chosen. Even in the two
most vulnerable GOP incumbent seats (Arizona and Nevada), the
Democrats have not seemed to choose strong challengers. Further,
the upcoming Supreme Court nominee confirmation vote has put
several Democratic incumbent and vulnerable senators on the
spot, especially the five in states carried heavily by President
Trump in 2016. Just as the Democrats seem likely to make at
least some gains in the U.S. house, it appears likely that
Republicans will make at last some gains in the U.S. senate,
especially with both the political mathematics and economic
conditions favoring them.
Republicans dominate state governorships and the most
legislatures, so Democratic gains are expected. But the
dimensions of those gains will be controlled more by local
conditions and quality of candidates than by any national
trend or purported wave.
Although no clear trend is yet visible, there is adequate time
for either a wave or, to a lesser degree, a surge to develop. An
outcome in which the Democrats make large U.S. house gains,
even taking back control, and the Republicans simultaneously
enlarge their majority by 3-5 seats is also quite possible. That
would be, in reality, a white flag election.
Most pundit predictions now are being made on the basis of
a plethora of contradictory and premature polls, many of
which are mostly hype. Fundraising for the primary season
does not yet tell us fundraising capability in a general
election. Finally, and I have repeated this many times,
individual candidates matter a great deal, especially in
I don’t think anything useful will be evident until well after
Labor Day. Prior to that, it’s almost all wishful thinking.
A recipe isn’t a successful dish until it’s cooked.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.