It’s time to start thinking about mid-term elections. Will Republicans be able to retain their majority in both houses, or will Democrats win enough seats to change the political landscape?
Here are some of the most important issues relating to the impending elections ten months from now.
Senate Democrats have several candidates running for reelection in states carried by Donald Trump in 2016. In an earlier post I indicated the following: “By my count Democrats have 12 vulnerable seats going into the 2018 elections and 9 of them are in states that Trump carried in 2016. Of these 5 were states where the president won by 5 or more percentage points. These include McCaskill (MD), Tester (MT), Heitkamp (ND), Brown (OH) and Manchin (WV).”
Democrats must win most of these seats to even have a chance to change the current 51-49 split in the Senate. Odds are that Republicans will keep their majority.
Up to this point fifty-five members of the House are retiring this year, 38 Republicans and 17 Democrats. The latest is Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a popular and effective member of the Republican caucus. The impact of these retirements depends upon whether the districts involved are prone to change parties. Democrats would need a net gain of 24 seats to obtain control. This number seems remote.
Many opponents and supporters of President Trump frequently cite his persona as his greatest vulnerability. The question is whether Trump’s personality will impact the 2018 elections. Given that the president’s base is still strong because he has been keeping his campaign promises, or trying to do so, annoying presidential tweets and his demeanor will not materially hurt Republicans in state and local elections.
If Trump is unable to push through more legislation, such as immigration reform and new infrastructure projects, it could cost his congressional allies votes. But this contingency should be offset by Democratic obstruction. Trump knows this and will attempt to pass the blame of legislative paralysis to his congressional opponents.
The immigration controversy is going to hurt Democrats more than Republicans. Claims of xenophobia carry more weight on the two coasts. Voters in the heartland will not be swayed by Democratic focus on illegal migrants, as opposed to the needs of average Americans.
Trump has made a proposal to save DACA immigrants that he believes is fair. The opposition will disagree and obstruct. Without a credible alternative plan Democrats are going to be hurt severely by this specific issue.
Similarly Trump is moving forward with an infrastructure proposal of $1.5 trillion. This amount is less than what the nation needs to refurbish its crumbling roads and bridges, but government participation could excite private investors and result in far more new projects and employment opportunities. So far there are no details and debt hawks are concerned about the growing national deficit. Additionally higher expected interest rates could impact this monumental effort.
And there is the economy (stupid!). Trump is “trumpeting” economic growth at every opportunity. Although he is not entirely responsible for gains to this point, presidents usually get credit for good times. When Americans take note of more money in their pay, higher wages, more employment and increases in pensions and 401Ks, they are going to reward Republicans. More cash in the pockets of voters may become the most important political factor in 2018.
Democrats are dreaming if they think their obstruction and sour faces (during the State of the Union Address) are going to win them votes. If liberals don’t formulate alternatives to Trump’s gambits they will have a very bad November. By the way, I firmly think that all the success I am predicting for 2018 will not help Trump win his own primary election in 2020, if he chooses to run at all.
One qualification. Terrorism, North Korean craziness, Iran subterfuge and other geopolitical activity could change everything.