More thoughts on the 2018 Mid-Terms
My thoughts on the midterms, nationally. Note that many races have not yet been called. (This was originally a Twitter thread so it reads like a list of talking points).
1) Politics is about thresholds. Who holds a majority or supermajority in a chamber or a Governorship matters more than anything else. Policy agenda and investigative power requires topping certain electoral thresholds.
2) The most important result of the midterm election, by far, was the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. This allows Dems a real seat at the national table, a counter to GOP/Trump agenda (no wall, no ACA repeal), and subpoena power to investigate. That was the key threshold crossed last night.
3) GOP performance in the Senate was pretty decent. They picked up seats, which is very hard to when the party holds the WH. But the map was terrible for Dems. Only losing MO, IN, FL and ND while taking NV is not all that bad for Dems. Remember that we picked up AL this cycle. This could have been worse. Still, the big issue is setting up for 2020 – again thresholds. If Dems take the WH, 50-50 is the threshold then. That will be a tough climb, but not impossible. The map is better in 2020.
4) Dems took back the states that paved the way for Trump’s victory – PA/MI/WI. Taking/holding Midwest governorships in KS, MN, WI, MI, IL, PA (sorta MW) is key. Legislative pickups in those states too – 333 state legislative seats went to the Dems nationally. IA & OH were left on the table, but overall it was a great night in the Midwest at state level.
5) Even in states where Dems lost, ballot measures passed that advanced either Dem policy agenda or set up future political gains. FL Amendment 4, Medicaid expansion, electoral reform, marijuana legalization. Middle America likes Dem policies more than Dem politicians.
6) It is easy to fixate on disappointments. I remember anger after the gay marriage vote in CA in 2008, or losing TN in 2006. Big picture was excellent for Dems then. It is today too. Sucks to lose FL and GA. But the House and state gains are significant. And then there’s…Texas.
7) I was a “Blue Texas” skeptic all along. I’m less so now. Beto lost. But he pulled downticket Dems over the line. And he showed that a different Texas exists than the one created in the 90s. If you told me a liberal Dem would lose TX Sen by under 3 pts, I’d say you were crazy.
8) The polls and forecasters were mostly right. Ignore media pundits looking for stories and pay attention to the people who know what to look for. That’s true at the state level too. Never, ever doubt @RalstonReports re: Nevada. Also, ignore the talk about whether it is a “blue wave” or whatever. That’s just branding. What matters is thresholds, not labels. Dems took the House and lots of key state offices. Doesn’t matter what label we apply to it.
9) In many ways we saw the diverging two Americas at work – rural/exurban, white, mostly non-college educated, more religious v. urban/ suburban, diverse, more college-educated, less religious. IOW, the “Red-Blue” divide. But maybe the real story is not policy difference between red and blue America. See: liberal ballot referenda passing in Nebraska and Utah. The difference between red and blue is how politicians reflect and refract cultural identity. This ain’t 1860. Or 1968. It’s more like 1888.
10) Gerrymandering is a crime against republican government and representative democracy. It is a problem re: state legislative seats and Congress. No party is innocent here historically. Voter suppression is real too, and more a problem in some states than others. We may need a Constitutional amendment to address gerrymandering, election spending, and voter access.
11) Final point here: Pols and pundits can spin away. But the Trump Administration will look very different now. It will not operate with impunity anymore. How different is hard to say. And yes, Dems can overact, launching fruitless investigations that backfire; Clinton and Obama won re-election after losing the House in 1994/2010. But remember that the House has not even pretended to hold Trump accountable for anything. We have no idea what even counts as a reasonable limit of inquiry at this point. The 2020 campaign starts now and depends much on which Democrat emerges in the nomination. But much also depends on how Trump responds to a new balance of power in the House. The American political scene – culture, expectations, dynamics – is a different place now than before the election.