In all those years I have never seen an election as weird and wild as this year's mid-terms.
Most elections have a theme, a consistency or common denominator.
It might be anti-incumbent, a red wave, blue wave or it might be an election that no one ever gets excited about. That theme carries through most of the elections throughout the country. The rhythm stays consistent.
2018 had none of that. It defied almost all of the rules.
Let's look at this in closer detail.
First, the turnout in the 2018 mid-terms was off the charts. An estimated 114 million ballots were
cast. That was 47.5% of the voter-eligible population. There has been nothing approaching that level of participation in over 50 years.
Let's put that in context. Only 83 million votes were cast in 2014. 138 million voters went to the polls in the 2016 Presidential election year. We exceeded 114 million votes in a mid-term!
You have to give credit to that turnout to Donald J. Trump. What other explanation is there? You cannot argue with the energy Trump has created on both sides. Everyone says we need more participation. This year we got it.
We are also continually told that Republicans are responsible for suppressing the vote. 30 million more people voted in this midterm with Trump as President than voted while Barack Obama was President in 2014! What voter suppression?
We also heard in the months leading up to the election that there was going to be a 'blue wave' of Democrats being voted into office. The Democrats did gain control of the House of Representatives by gaining 30+ seats (final number to be determined). However, the Republicans gained 3 seats in the Senate pending final counts in Arizona and Florida.
This might not seem like a big deal if you don't have a historical perspective on mid-term elections. However, consider that in the last 80 years the President's party has collectively only picked up a total of 7 seats in mid-term elections. And Trump's GOP picked up 3 in one election! That is pretty remarkable.
At the same time, there are disconnects. That is the reason I call the election weird.
Let's look at Ohio.
The Republicans retained the Governor's office. Mike DeWine (R) defeated Richard Cordray (D) for the seat held by term-limited John Kasich.
Republicans also won every other state office (Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer, Secretary of State).
The GOP also held every House district in the state as did the Democrats.
A ballot issue that would have decriminalized many drug offenses in the state lost 63%-37% despite $10 million being spent to support the measure.
However, two-term liberal Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown was reelected by 7 points over Jim Renacci. There is no theme there.
It gets even weirder when you look at Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont.
These are deep blue states. Trump lost each of them by 26-27 points.
However, Republican Charlie Baker (MA) (+34 points, Republican Larry Hogan (MD)(+14 points) and Republican Phil Scott (VT) (+15 points) each won re-election in these states. Even more remarkable is that at the same time Republican Baker was winning Massachusetts by 34 points Democrat Socialist Elizabeth Warren was winning in the same state by 24 points. In Vermont,
How does this happen if we are supposed to have these political party differences that are supposed to so irreconcilable?
The answer here is the power of incumbency. All of those cited above were running as incumbents. It is a powerful advantage particularly when things are good and the economy is humming along as it is.
If that is the case, why didn't the good economy help the Republicans in the House more?
A big reason is that almost 40 Republicans in Congress did not run for re-election. Some ran for other offices (like Renacci in Ohio). However, more than half retired, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy from South Carolina. Losing the power of incumbency makes a huge difference in a political race. Name ID for a politician is their most valuable asset. New names requires a lot more money to promote. Money spent on name ID for a new candidate takes away from all the other GOP candidates as well.
In my view, this was the major reason for the loss of the House by the GOP.
Why did so many retire? Many probably believed they were facing a blue wave that did not materialize. They did not want to be in a fight. Many certainly did not relish being in the minority party having been in the majority for a few years.
The irony is that it ended up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Others question why the great economy did not help the GOP House retain control. Many political pundits blamed Trump for not putting more focus on the economic accomplishments of the last two years. They said he talked too much about illegal immigration.
I think this criticism is misplaced. Trump talked about the economy plenty. Let's face it, Trump is never shy about talking about his accomplishments.
The polls actually showed that healthcare and immigration were more important issues with voters.
This is also natural. Human beings tend to not focus on those things that are going well in their lives.
We have a tendency to take the good for granted. We only get excited and motivated about those things that we are not happy with or think we should have that we don't.
"You don't have a job" or "You don't have health care" is a more motivating message than "You do have a job" and "You do have healthcare".
There was also a lot of talk before the election about the new wave of Socialist Democrats who were going to save the Democrat party. Yes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in New York City. However, she did not have any competition in the general election in her deer, deep blue district. She effectively won the seat when she beat the old, traditional Democrat in the primary.
How did some of the other Far Left liberals do in competitive districts?
Every one of them lost. It is true that Beto O'Rourke, Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams all came close. However, they all lost. As did other like-minded leftists in House districts. This handy list was provided by PowerLine.
Those Democrat House members who won tended to be moderates. In addition, many of them campaigned stating that they would not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. I think those freshmen Democrats are going to find out very quickly how the power game works in the Democrat caucus. You can say anything at home as long as you vote the
We also are now over 48 hours after the polls have closed and two of the biggest counties in Florida (Broward) and Arizona (Maricopa) have not completed counting their votes. How is this possible? These are two of the larger counties in the United States. How come all the other counties can get the job done and they can't? How do we know that fraud is not occurring? When in our lifetime has a big pile of votes come in late and pushed the Republican to a win? Weird and wild.
Has anyone also noticed the change in tone from the Democrats in two short days?
During the campaign we didn't hear anything about Russian collusion. We didn't hear anything about impeachment. Or investigations. It was all supposed to be about Democrats focused on the issues for you. And working in a bi-partisan basis with the President for solutions to our problems.
Get ready. I warned you. Talk is cheap. Let's see what they do. And this is already not starting well.
If you think the election was weird and wild. Fasten your seat belt for the next two years.
As I stated before the mid-terms, all of this might very well work to the advantage of Donald J. Trump. He now has someone to blame if the economy or stock market goes south. If nothing is done on health care or immigration he also has someone to share the blame. The Democrats will be a great diversion and punching bag for any problems that arise.
All of this is undoubtedly not good for the country but it may be a gift for Trump heading into re-election.
In the end, the voters always get what they vote for.
This is what they voted for. Weird and wild.