US Midterms post mortem

Now that the results are largely in, on balance it looks like a good showing for the Democrats and bad one for the GOP, but still both parties have a few takeaways.  For the GOP, suburban America is clearly moving in the Democrat direction and college educated whites, particularly college educated white women are swinging towards the Democrats, which definitely is something that will make re-election for Trump a bit more difficult.  By the same token, it appears the rural areas that voted for Obama but swung to Trump in 2016 largely stayed with the GOP thus meaning the Democrats may have a slight edge, but if they choose the wrong candidate and run a lousy campaign they could be vulnerable.  Minnesota is probably the best example of this as four seats changed: two suburban Minneapolis ones flipped to the Democrats while two rural Minnesota ones flipped to the GOP emphasizing the growing metropolitan vs. non-metropolitan divide.  In particular since every state gets two senators, this may give the GOP a built in advantage for the senate despite the shift overall towards the Democrats.  And likewise the GOP winning the popular vote may become a thing of the past, but due to the way the electoral college is set up, you could see a repeat of 2016 and 2000 where Democrats win the popular vote but Trump wins the electoral college.  The two key areas were the Rust belt and Sun Belt.  In the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the Democrats clearly were able to undo the gains Trump made in 2016 which bodes well for them, but in Ohio and Iowa which Trump won by somewhat larger margins, the GOP still remains quite strong although Democrats are not totally out of it in either states.  Sun Belt was a mix as their gains in Arizona suggest that state is definitely winneable in 2020 while Texas and Georgia showed tighter margins than in the past, but the Democrats still haven’t quite closed the deal there.  Florida was probably the biggest disappointment, but the biggest thing the Democrats have going for them is the ballot initiative to enfranchise convicted felons after they serve their sentences.  With a million such people in Florida, this could easily tip things in favour of the Democrats in 2020 and in fact this more so than the governor or senate race is probably the biggest thing the Democrats achieved in their favour there.

House

While it looked like a disappointing night at first, the Democrats gained over 30 seats and possibly as many as 40 so while not quite as big a wave in seat change as 1994, 2006, or 2010, the vote swing may end up being the biggest in a long time.  With votes still to count mainly in California, the Democrats will probably end up winning by around 7 points.  What was interesting is looking at the map.  Unlike past Democrat controlled houses, it was mostly painted red and if you looked at the gains, they were almost all suburban congressional districts thus emphasizing the GOP’s difficulty in the suburbs while at the same time emphasizing the Democrats difficulties in rural America.  Also the map was heavily gerrymandered too, so with a less gerrymandered one, may have been an even bigger Democrat win.  The biggest upsets were South Carolina 1 and Oklahoma 5 as I don’t think many thought the Democrats would win those, but in any wave election you always fall short in a few, while have a few surprises.  Overall generally pleased with the results here, but I think they should choose someone other than Nancy Pelosi as speaker.  The old guard needs to pass the torch to a new generation of Democrats otherwise they will face the same problems Clinton faced in 2016.  I was disappointed Steve King won, but considering Trump won his district by 30 points while he only won by 3, it shows even in heavily conservative areas, white nationalism has its limits.  Also the next house has more women and minorities which is a good thing meaning congress looks a little more like 21st century America than 1950s America.  On the issue of impeachment, I think the Democrats should take a wait and see.  Unless Trump does an impeachable offence don’t bother, but if he does don’t hesitate to start it.  In the mean time ensure the Mueller investigation continues and force Trump to turn over his tax returns.  On issues, this may mean gridlock but on some things like infrastructure, I believe it is possible to work together if Trump shows the willingness.  Also a smart tactical move would be to make lower and middle income tax cuts permanent while include a raise in corporate taxes and income taxes on high income earners.  If GOP blocks this or Trump vetoes it, will be a winning issue in 2020.  While I support competitive corporate taxes and top marginal rates, I know this is an easy wedge they can use in their favour.  Also US top marginal rates are low enough that unlike Canada they can raise them by 5 points and still be competitive internationally in most states whereas Canada does not have that luxury.

Senate

While on the surface some will say it was a bad night for the Democrats, they had a horrible map and considering the map they had to work with they did alright.  Of the five states Trump won by single digits, Democrats held four of them (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) while it appears only came up short in Florida which is probably the biggest disappointment there.  Of the five states Trump won by double digits, they lost North Dakota, Missouri, and Indiana, but held West Virginia and Montana so not too bad.  Missouri and Indiana would have gone GOP to begin with in 2012 had it not been for the stupid comments on abortion and rape by the GOP candidates in those races so Democrats only won those due to bozo eruptions in 2012, which they didn’t have this time around.  Of the nine states up for grabs, Nevada and Arizona were really the only two the Democrats had a decent shot at, and they won both.  They fell well short in Tennessee, but considering the demographics and how it has voted in the last decade, I never bought the idea the Democrats had a shot there to begin with.  In Texas they didn’t quite win, but definitely made it a lot more competitive than it normally is.  While winning Texas in 2020 is a long shot for the Democrats, if it is close, that will force the GOP to spend money on ads there meaning less money to run ads in other states so just making it close helps them overall even if they cannot quite get over the line as Texas is so large the GOP cannot take any chance of losing it.  I was also glad to see Mitt Romney win in Utah as he is one of the few Republicans I like, I just hope he stays true to his principles and doesn’t cave in like others I used to respect such as Lindsay Graham.

Governor

While the Democrats fell short in a few states that they had high hopes on such as Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, and Florida, they still were able to flip 7 states in their favour while not losing any.  So maybe not the ideal showing, but still a good one.  It does however show that while the upper Midwest looks good for winning back in 2020, they have their work cut out in Ohio and Florida while Georgia is trending in their direction but isn’t quite there yet.  Off course some were won and lost based on local issues too.  Democrats may have flipped Kansas due to unpopularity of past GOP government, but I highly doubt Kansas will turn blue in 2020.  Connecticut came close to going GOP, but again faced an unpopular outgoing Democrat governor.  Likewise New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland went heavily Democrat elsewhere, but re-elected moderate popular GOP governors, but considering the GOP is now the party of Trump this simply suggests if they moderated they might have more openings, but as long as the Trump faction controls the party, asides from New Hampshire, the other three won’t be in play and even there Democrats have a slight edge.

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