Thursday, November 8, 2018

Yes, there was a Blue Wave

Republicans can spin the gaining a few seats in the Senate all they want, it does not tell the entire story. Democrats flipped over 30 house seats, 7 governor seats, and the State legislatures in six states. The Senate landscape was very favorable to the Republicans this cycle and if that had not been the case then they would have lost seats there too. And if it were not for the Democrats playing politics with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process by trying to ruin a good man’s reputation with smears and lies that were unsubstantiated, they may have won the Senate too. Of 5 Democrats defending Senate seats in red states who voted against Kavanaugh only Tester survived (barely, by 1 point). Even Joe Manchin, who voted for Kavanaugh, had a tighter than usual race, winning by 4 points. Why was this election cycle a blue wave? First, the Democrats flipped house seats that nobody even thought were in danger such as in red Oklahoma 5. The average number of house seats changing hands in a midterm after the election of a new president is 28 and the Dems beat that average. Second, the landscape was ripe for Governorships to change hands in states like Illinois and Michigan. But the Democrats also turned governorships in red Kansas. And it was a bittersweet win for the Democrats in Wisconsin, finally unseating Scott Walker who has been a thorn in the side of union fanatics for 8 years. Finally, the Democrats flipped dozens of State Legislature seats including gaining full control in Colorado, New York, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. They were even able to flip 11 seats in the Texas legislature. This means the Democrats will be better positioned when redistricting begins after the 2020 census. This is important because New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania will probably face redistricting because they will lose a House seat. And Oregon and Colorado may face redistricting for gaining a House seat. This will enable Democratic majorities to gerrymander the boundaries so only Republicans lose a seat and only Democrats gain a seat. The Democrats also picked up 4 attorney general seats which will provide states more ammunition to sue the Trump Presidency. Other than a favorable Senate landscape and the Kavanaugh debacle, the Democrats would have won the Senate. They for sure would have limited the damage done in the Senate by at least holding Florida. Florida was certainly one bright spot for the Republicans even though they lost two house seats. Also, the Republicans had a good night in Ohio, even though they lost the Senate seat, by holding the governorship and all its House toss-up seats. Do not get me wrong, this was a blue wave, but it was not a blue tsunami like the one that hit Presidents Clinton and Obama. There were substantial Democratic gains offset a bit a by a poor Senate showing. And this is probably as good as Republicans could have expected considering over 40 Republican retirements made the mid-term battle to hold the house almost impossible. If those retirements could have been halved, it may have been a different story. Trump knew the writing was on the wall for holding the House so he correctly focused his attention on the Senate and he was able to protect that part of his coalition. This country is more divided than ever before and the anti-Trump rage has been at a fever pitch for two years and it led to record mid-term turnout numbers. And despite this, the Republicans were able to manage to keep the generic ballot to 7 points in favor of the Democrats. This sounds like a lot but it is not much different than what Democrats favor Republicans nationally going into the election. Many polls were suggesting a double-digit win in the generic ballot and this would have been a Tsunami. The pressure will be on Democrats. If they decide to open dozens of investigations into Trump and try to impeach him, it will surely work to the Republicans advantage in 2020. Especially if Democrats decide not to work with Trump on things both sides may have a vested interest. But I do not see Pelosi (or whomever is in charge) working with Trump to give him any credit for legislative wins. Even so, all is not lost for Trump since he has a friendlier Senate majority to continue to appoint conservative federal judges. Here is a bold prediction for what to expect from the next two years: Polarization will be worse and politics will be uglier than ever: Especially with a presidential election on the horizon and the never-ending Mueller investigation.

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