Midterm fallout

  • 7 November 2018
  • NormanL

Let's be frank: Tuesday's election results were a big loss for the GOP. But the results weren't a crushing win for Democrats, either.  And if recent history tells us anything, Tuesday night's results may have helped the president's 2020 re-election bid.

In the House it was ugly, but not as wrenching as it might have been. Yes, Democrats will have a majority and with it, the ability to block the president's agenda even as they crank up their investigations. But blaming the GOP's setback on House leaders is a dodge. Republicans are losing ground in the suburbs for a host of reasons. These areas used to be conservative bastions and until Republicans find a way to stop the bleedng, their problems are going to get worse.

In the Senate, the GOP did very well. But before Republican strategists get too carried away with tales of their genius, recall that Democrats were defending more Senate seats than Republicans, including in 10 states the president won in 2016. The GOP had no excuse not to do well. 

Because they did, it means the president will be able to keep transforming the judiciary, and largely keep the deregulation effort moving ahead. Additional tax cuts are unlikely to happen, but no tax hikes are going to get approved, either.

With Democrats controlling the House, they will now have to show their base what they can do with power. We suspect very little. But majority Democrats will provide the president a foil -- or a punching bag -- for the next two years. It's a tool he will not hesitate to use, and one that very likely will help him in the run-up to the 2020 presidental race.

As results and trends for governors' races and state legislative contests roll in, we will get a better sense of the overall political environment.