Will Lightning Strike Twice for Trump? Midterm Election Looms

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30 years ago in October 1988 President Reagan stands in front of the Wood County Courthouse in Bowling Green Ohio after Michael, on the staff of the White House Political Office recommended a campaign trip to his hometown in Bowling Green, Ohio. Photo by Michael Miller

Expect surprises!

I’ve often recounted being a guest analyst on a Savannah, Georgia radio station the day before the presidential election in 2016.  At that time I supported the conventional wisdom that predicted a Hillary win.  It didn’t work out that way when a massive red wave, that had previously overwhelmed Democrats in congressional elections overturned all the rules in the presidential contest.

Are we about to see history repeat itself or some new variation? Congressional elections in the United States take place on Tuesday November 6th. At stake is control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. The seats at stake are local and state races but the contest has been nationalized with the Trump factor.

The President has been travelling the country imploring his base to vote.  Massive rallies that dwarf anything Obama or Hillary could aspire to show that support for Trump remains strong.  But history shows that President’s usually suffer loses for their party in the elections that occur between presidential terms. Hence, the appellation “midterm” election.

Democrats also want to make the election all about Trump. Their base, motivated by hate and anger for Trump has burned at white hot levels since Trump’s election.  There is no denying that they are energized this election cycle.

There was concern about Republican enthusiasm earlier this fall until the spectacle of angry mobs shrieking in the U.S. Senate and Dem’s attempts to stop the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court  by making baseless sensational claims that Kavanaugh was a serial rapist in high school. Republican voters in early September were considered “complacent.”  After Kavanaugh, no more.

Trump capitalized on the Kavanaugh kaos and at rallies his supporters hold signs with the simple message offering voters a choice “Mobs or Jobs.”  There is also no denying that Trump’s policies have sparked a miraculous economic revival in less than two short years. Lowest unemployment in history. Gains for all sectors of society. Do voters really want to turn back that clock?

House: conventional wisdom says it’s lost

Taking historical and other factors into account the conventional wisdom says that Democrats win the 23 seats they need to take back the House.  That would hand Rep. Nancy Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel for a second time.  A local candidate in the heavily Republican district in South Carolina where I live promises he will put people before party but everyone knows he along with other Dems running to unseat Republicans will vote for Pelosi despite their campaign pledges. Democrats don’t seem to mind when their candidates lie to them.

How well Dems do depends on voter turnout.  They hope for a “blue wave” of angry Dems. They fear a “red wave” of Trump supporters. We won’t know which way things go until Tuesday evening.

Senate: GOP to dominate. But how much?

While we do not know the likely final outcome in the House we do have a better idea about the Senate.  Republicans control the upper chamber with a current 51-49 margin. That’s a razor thin majority which has led to compromises on Trump’s agenda.  Republican gains would mean a clearer path for the Trump agenda and that’s the likely outcome in races where the one third of Senate seats up for re-election this cycle are in more Trump friendly states.

Here’s the chart from Real Clear Politics. Visit their interactive map to monitor polling in individual races. Pay close attention to the states in gray. Those are too close to call.

Will Lightning Strike Twice for Trump? Midterm Election Looms

Here are the closest races:

Top Senate Races RCP Average
Florida Nelson (D) +2.0Trending Down
Missouri Hawley (R) +2.0
Arizona Sinema (D) +1.0Trending Up
Nevada Heller (R) +2.0
Montana Tester (D) +4.2Trending Down
Indiana Braun (R) +0.5
Tennessee Blackburn (R) +6.2Trending Down
New Jersey Menendez (D) +6.5
Texas Cruz (R) +7.2Trending Up
Michigan Stabenow (D) +9.7
Minnesota Smith (D) +9.5
North Dakota Cramer (R) +12.3Trending Down
West Virginia Manchin (D) +12.0

Conventional wisdom suggests a GOP pickup of at least two seats but more are possible depending on a red wave. I’d be happy with three and jumping up and down for four or more.  Both Nevada and Arizona are seats currently held by Republicans though in Arizona, there is no incumbent as Sen. Jeff Flake is retiring after GOP voters threatened to unseat him in the primary.

I expect the GOP will retain Nevada and also win in MissouriIndiana and North Dakota. It’s difficult to believe that Arizona voters will hand that seat to the hard left Sinema who protested the Afghanistan war in a pink tutu against Martha McSally, the first female fighter pilot who actually fought in that war.

Florida is also on the razor’s edge as usual. Montana is also very close. Trump will be campaigning in both states in the final days.  There is also Democrat weakness in New Jersey where Dem. Robert Menendez barely escaped conviction for corruption in a scandal that involved underage prostitutes.

In a red wave, Democrats could also kiss seats in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan goodbye.  We shall see.

Implications

A Democrat takeover in the House would mean unending investigations of Trump. But with what result? We’ve already had two years of investigations and a Special Prosecutor who is speculated to be preparing a report that fails to condemn Trump.  That won’t stop crazy Dems from demanding impeachment which they deny is their goal. But they can hamstring the Trump agenda.

A more solidly Republican Senate would blunt empowered Trump haters in the House. But without the House, advancing the Trump agenda would be in stalemate and the economy would likely suffer. Dems would then blame that on Trump before the 2020 elections.

If Dems win the House and the GOP is stronger in the Senate it will mean two more years of obstruction, hate and anger.  That situation might only be resolved in the 2020 election where Trump will likely be re-elected. If the House then flips back to GOP control America can move forward again.

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