Editor’s Note: With so much heat rather than light in the media world today, Liberty Nation plans the following series on the crucial midterm elections that will be taking place. These elections will likely determine the course of the Trump presidency and as such should be looked at with in-depth analysis. Thus, each week LN author Graham Noble will be giving our readers a state-by-state look at the upcoming elections. Today he begins his series with an overview that shows the stakes are indeed high.
Like him or not, it is hard to deny that President Donald Trump has made politics more interesting than it has been for many years. He has also, though unintentionally, made politics more polarizing than even his predecessor. The political right had nothing but disdain for the agenda pursued by former President Barack Obama. It is fair to say, however, that Obama the man was never loathed and despised the way the left loathes and despises Trump. For this reason, the 2018 midterm elections will not only have profound legislative repercussions but, quite possibly, constitutional implications not faced by the American political establishment since the 1970s.
Should the Democratic Party gain a meaningful majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in November, the Trump agenda will be all but stopped in its tracks. Articles of Impeachment may even be advanced, regardless of whether such a course of action is either justified or politically expedient.
The Fight to Control a Divided Senate
What, then, can be rationally predicted for the midterms and what potential scenarios come into play as a result? Much of the buzz surrounding this year’s congressional elections has concerned the Senate. Of the 100 seats, 34 will be contested this coming November. Currently, the Republican Party holds a precarious majority with 51 seats. The Democratic Party holds 47seats, but the two independent Senators invariably vote with the Democrats. Those two Senators are Angus S. King of Maine and Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who ran as a Democrat in the presidential primary.
Talk of a Democratic Party majority in the Senate after the midterms is purely speculative, however. While Democrats need only gain two seats to take control, they will be defending seats in 26 of the 34 contests.Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, (who admittedly was historically wrong in 2016 with the rest of the polling class) rates only two of the eight Republican Senate seats up for election as being a ‘toss-up.’ Sabato grades the remaining six as ‘likely’ or ‘safe’ Republican seats. On the Democratic side, Sabato assesses three seats as ‘toss-up,’ six seats ‘lean’ Democrat and the rest ‘likely’ or ‘safe’ Democratic seats.
On the one hand, then, the Democratic Party needs only a minimal net gain to take control of the Senate. On the other hand, the party must fight to retain 14 seats that Sabato rates as less than ‘safe.’ Many of these seats are in states that Trump carried in 2016. The professor predicts the Republicans will lose two seats and the Democrats three, while five seats remain a ‘toss-up.’ Such predictions make for a nail-biting election day for both parties.
The Real Fight: The House of Representatives
The real questions surround the election for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. The House is where most legislation originates and where all spending bills are created. The Republicans currently control the House with a 239 – 193 majority (three seats are now vacant in this, the first session of the 115th Congress, due to resignations).
Determined to deny the president any legislative success – even at the cost of the economy or the safety and welfare of the American people –a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will likely not vote for any legislation supported by the president. With a majority in the House, the Democrats may find themselves under pressure from the extreme left to introduce articles of impeachment of the president. Such a move may, in fact, alienate a section of the Democratic base that would, no doubt, prefer the party focus on legislating.
The Party Playbooks
Of all the issues in the public eye, it is the state of the economy that will most likely determine which party emerges from the midterms with a majority in the house. Republican success in passing historic tax reform could end up being the deciding factor, although Trump’s slashing of government regulation will also have a profound effect on the nation’s economic well-being. The Democratic Party has yet to formulate a comprehensive economic platform to run on in November.
The Republicans will have to put up or shut up, as it were, in terms of embracing the Trump agenda. In the absence of an economic message, the Democrats will likely run on healthcare, social issues and their resistance to President Trump. Should they focus exclusively on the latter, they will have to hope Trump the man and Trump the president is as unpopular as they believe.
Join us next week as our series focuses on House and Senate Races in Alabama, Alaska, and Arizona.
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