Predictable and Predicted

7 November 2018


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Democrats Take House, GOP Holds Senate


The 2018 mid-term elections in the US came out just about as expected. The blue wave that many Democrats hoped for and some Republicans feared never quite materialized. While the overall vote put the Democrats well ahead of the tsunami that was the Tea Party wave of 2010, the map was so hostile to the party that the potential many saw was just a mirage. Instead, this was a fairly typical election given the constituencies in play and the unpopularity of the president despite a tolerable economy. Now, the table for the 2020 presidential campaign is set.

On the House side, the Democrats needed 23 seats to take control of the chamber. There were 25 districts represented by Republicans that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. The idea that the Democrats could not win the House was implausible. That the Democrats have a talent for missing opportunities is a historical fact, so their success was not a foregone conclusion either. Mr. Trump's antics have made him unpalatable in many moderate households in suburbia, and that is where the Democrats actually delivered. While not definitive, projections suggest something like a 30-seat majority for the Democrats.

The Senate was never really in play. The cadre of seats up for election were last contested in 2012, the year Barack Obama was re-elected. As a result, the Democrats and their two independent allies (Senators Angus King and Bernie Sanders) were defending 26 seats while the Republicans had only 9 to protect. In addition, about half of those 26 seats were in states Mr. Trump carried in 2016. At present, the confirmed results from CNN have the Republicans at 51 and the Democrats at 45 with four seats to be determined.

Taking a long-term view, the difference between 51 and 55 in practical terms is negligible, but the impact it has on the balance of the Senate in 2020 is important. The cadre up for election then is made up of those who won their seats in the 2014 mid-terms, a Republican win against Mr. Obama's policies. Thus, of the 33 seats contested, the Republicans are defending 22 and the Democrats 11. If the composition going in has the GOP with just 51 seats, the Democrats could easily take control. If the GOP has 55, that shift is much harder.

An even longer-term perspective shifts attention to the gubernatorial races. Last night, the Democrats picked up 7 executive mansions, meaning the split is 26 GOP, 24 Democratic -- the presumption being that the Republicans keep Georgia despite the run-off risk. In 2020, there will be a constitutionally required census followed by redistricting. In those states where the legislatures rather than a non-partisan committee establishes the boundaries of Congressional Districts, the governor has the power to veto any plan. This will help reduce gerrymandering, which the Republicans have raised to a high art of late.

With control of the House comes the power to subpoena. For two years, there has been no willingness on the part of the Congressional majority to investigate or supervise any executive activities. That is going to change, and the widespread corruption in the Trump administration will come under intense scrutiny. One expects a major reshuffling of the cabinet with many departures having to do with abuse of power, for instance Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. And of course, there are the president's tax returns.

The American people, in exit polls and elsewhere, have made it clear that they want the national leadership to come together to get things done, to put the country on the track to unity. That is not going to happen. Indeed, the partisan bickering is going to worse now that Mr. Trump has a foil in the House Democrats, and those same House Democrats have no incentive to go easy on the administration. It is going to be much hotter in Washington next year than it has been in a long time.

© Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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