Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
I might have redeemed myself as a pundit. I predicted a net gain of 30 – 35 Democrat seats in the House of Representatives and 2 Republican gains in the Senate. Tonight the score is Democrats +37 with three still too close to call and Republicans +3 with Mississippi in a run-off voting next week. The Republicans still control the Senate, albeit without a filibuster-proof majority, while the Democrats have a majority of 15 in the House (again as of tonight).
So,what conclusions do I draw from the results of the 2108 mid-term elections?
One is the chasm between rural and metropolitan America. Most of the Democrat gains came in metropolitan or suburban districts; the Republicans were successful in rural areas. That bodes well for the Democrats since the preponderance of growth is in the metropolitan areas. With one man, one vote redistricting in 2 years, there will have to be more metropolitan districts or, at least, districts with a strong metropolitan bent. The President’s allure is weaker in those areas.
The President’s base held firm. However, the base alone is not enough to win in swing districts. What will draw the independent or moderate Republican voters to the President and/or his party in 2020? Without Hillary to vote against, where is the margin of victory? Like the results in 2016, more votes were cast for Democrats than Republicans in the mid-term elections.
It is hard to find a strong base for the Democrats beyond anti-Trump. There is clearly a philosophical civil war brewing (or overt) between the far left progressives and more traditional Democrat constituencies. I believe some of the more radical positions taken by Democrat candidates such as Beto contributed significantly to their loss. Free (choose your subject) health care/college tuition/immigration makes no economic or practical sense. What does the Democrat Party stand for anymore? Is it the Connor Lamb/John Hickenlooper party or the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren party?
Finally it is difficult at best to find any optimism for meaningful legislative solutions to our growing problems coming out of the next Congress. Even if the House Republicans and Democrats play nice in the sand box and send infrastructure/immigration/heath care bills to the Senate, Mitch McConnell will not permit any votes that would potentially harm any of his chicks up for re-election in 2020. Remember, the numbers for 2020 are flipped from those for 2018, meaning far more Republican Senators are up for re-election than Democrats.
Am I discouraged? Not really; I feel that we asked hard questions of the candidates this year and are poised to follow-up on and monitor the winners’ actions with an eye to 2020. Let’s all vow to politely but persistently insist on actions, not platitudes. After all, they work for us; they just need to be reminded of that constantly.