Election 2018 Was A Repudiation Of Trump And The DC Republicans
In 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican who didn’t buy into the orthodoxy of the GOP on health care and Social Security. Trump promised he would oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Furthermore, the former TV reality star promised to insure “everybody” and “great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost.”
As it turned out, Trump and the Republicans in Congress broke every populist promise that Trump made in 2016. The D.C. Republicans tried to take away insurance from millions of Americans and gut pre-existing condition protections. In other words, Trump and the DC Republicans won their narrow and tainted victory on false pretenses in 2016. There was never a mandate for the DC Republicans’ actual governing agenda.
Due to those broken promises and Trump’s erratic behavior, the voters administered a stern rebuke to the DC Republicans in Tuesday’s election results. The Democrats have regained control of the House and are on their way to picking up around 35 to 40 seats.
The NY Times has projected a national popular-vote margin of D+9.2%. For comparison’s purposes , the last five largest margins in what were considered to be wave elections: 1994: R+7.1%, 2006: D+8.0%, 2008: D+10.6%, 2010: R+7.2% and 2014: R+5.7%
In 2010, the Republicans picked up 63 House seats with a popular vote margin of +7.2%. The difference this year: extreme gerrymandering by the GOP after the 2010 election cycle. Experts believe that the GOP gerrymandering gave the GOP 22 additional House seats. Remember this when the Republicans and the pundits try to downplay what the Democrats accomplished in this cycle.
Over in the Senate, the GOP is on track to pick up two or three seats due to the small state bias of that body. Nevertheless, more than 44 million Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates versus about 33 million for Republican contenders. That equates to a winning popular vote margin for the Democrats of 55% to 43%.
Lest we forget, the winning Senate Democrats ran on Democratic health care policies. ( The problem for the GOP is that many conservative ideas are unpopular once they aren’t entirely abstract.)
The turnout for the midterms is currently 113 million (and counting). This figure was closer to that of the 2016 presidential election than the 2014 midterms. In 2018, we had a 31% increase from 2014 turnout! When Democrats vote, Democrats win!
The next two years will be difficult for the Democratic majority in the House and the country as a whole. Already, Trump has fired Sessions. I anticipate Mueller will be fired next. There is already speculation that Donald Trump, Jr. could be indicted any day. We could be on the verge of a constitutional crisis that will sorely test the country.
A Democratic House could pick up and perhaps finish Mueller’s investigation in the event he is fired. However, I fully expect the Administration to make broad claims of executive privilege and refuse to comply with Democratic subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Those issues of executive privilege will have to be litigated and ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
Nixon and Clinton’s executive privilege claims were rejected by the Supreme Court in the past. However, this is a much different and very political Supreme Court majority. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the five “conservatives” on the Supreme Court affirm Trump’s executive privilege defenses.
On the legislative front, I expect gridlock. Trump is a very erratic leader who doesn’t have much interest in policy. In addition, McConnell will do everything he can to frustrate the new Democratic majority in the House. In my opinion, the gridlock in Washington will significantly increase the chances of a Trump and/or GOP inspired government shutdown or default.
Despite the anticipated gridlock, the Democrats in the House should immediately pass legislation on the minimum wage, health care, infrastructure, DACA, voting rights and gun safety. We need to demonstrate to the voters what we can accomplish if we are returned to power in 2020.
Let’s enjoy this victory but be prepared to get back to work. No victory over the radical right is ever final in nature. We must be as relentless as the GOP and never take a day off. We can win again in 2020! Let’s do it again!