On the day before the 2018 midterm elections, I believe we’re on the verge of an historic night for the Democrats, as they ride a blue wave larger than most analysts current expect. While one might say that’s wishful thinking on my part, I explain my reasoning below and am putting this prediction out there – if I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong for the world to see! I’ll own it either way.
What makes a “blue wave?” That will happen tomorrow if undecideds break heavily for the Democrats on election day, meaning that races that are close will overwhelmingly end up Democratic. That’s how waves work – the GOP did that in 2010 and 2014. The Democrats last did that in 2006 (the Democrats won in 2008 and 2012, but without a wave).
If that prediction is wrong, then I’m completely off base. It’s thus important to explain my thinking.
1. The Democrats have help – President Trump. In the last week President Trump has enjoyed himself, giving red meat speeches to fire up his base. He’s been in his element. Moreover, he’s purposefully focused on the Senate. Most people expect the GOP to maintain control of the Senate due to the map – the Democrats are defending 24 seats, the GOP only 10. Moreover, many more Democrats are in close, difficult battles than are Republicans. President Trump figures that when the Senate stays GOP, he can claim victory, washing his hands of defeat in the House.
And it might have worked. If the President had touted the economy and worked to re-assure moderates and undecideds, the Republicans would be in much better shape. But that’s not Donald Trump’s nature. He attacked immigrants, said he was sending troops to the border with orders to shoot in response to even stone throwing. He said to imagine him on the ballot, saying that the election was about his Presidency. The raucous crowds ate it up, and the President believes the energy suggests a possible red wave of support for him.
In reality, all of this after the shooting at a synagogue and the failed mail bomb attacks on Democrats deepens the message to moderates that Trump is a divider whose slash and burn tactics harm the country. Indeed, Trump says Republicans will protect America while Democrats will lead it into a dark dangerous socialism – yes, the base wants to see the “other side” as evil; most independents and moderates of both parties understand that despite different views, both parties represent American values.
This rhetoric not only pushes independents towards the Democrats, but helps generate enthusiasm among minorities. The fact a Trump ad was pulled from major networks (including Fox) because it was too racist adds to this. With turnout likely near the 2016 Presidential numbers in states with hotly contested races, electrifying the base is not enough. I believe this will backfire on the President and the Republican party. We’ll see tomorrow.
2. Polls are leaning increasingly towards the Democrats in major races. People say the polls can’t be trusted, but in most cases they can be – at least to say what they claim to say. 95% of the time the real state of the race is within the margin of error from their result. The margin of error can be four points, so that means even polls with conflicting results could each be “accurate” – their result could be within the margin of error. But one in twenty times the poll result is outside margin of error. So once one accepts the limit of polls, watching them for trends is best. After the Kavanaugh hearings there was a marked trend toward the GOP. Now that seems to have reversed itself.
And then there’s the poll that gives all Republicans hope – Rasmussen. While most have President Trump well over -10% on disapproval over approval, Rasmussen shows more people approving of the President’s job. The generic ballot in most polls is 7 to 15% in favor of the Democrats; Rasmussen has it as 1% in favor of the GOP. Why? Simple – they weight their raw data for political party. But in wave years many people who might have been Republican if asked during another election now will claim to be independent, maybe Democrat. That’s why most pollsters don’t use past elections to weight for political party. It stacks the deck in favor of Republicans at this point. Some years that wouldn’t be an issue, but if it is a wave year, then weighting for party will make the poll unreliable.
3. This is still the country which voted for Barack Obama. Twice. And if anything, the demographics are more favorable to the Democrats now. Face it, one reason Trump won was that he had a weak opponent. Not that Hillary Clinton is a weak person, but that as a candidate she wasn’t inspiring, and had too much baggage (too 20th Century, to harmed by false smears). So the idea that the country is as behind Trump as much as he claims seems false. I believe the violence and racism that’s been overt in the last two years is pushing people to vote against Trump by voting Democratic.
So based on that, predictions:
Senate: Democrats 51 Republicans 49
House: Democrats pick up 53 seats to have a clear majority
Surprises: Heidi Heitkamp shocks politicos by winning. She’s been declared essentially DOA, and one poll had her down 14%. But that was right after the Kavanaugh fiasco, and a small state like North Dakota can pull of surprises. In Texas, spurred on strong Latino turnout Beto O’Rourke will surprise Ted Cruz, ending Cruz’s political career. Finally, in South Dakota (where I grew up) Billie Sutton – a cowboy in a wheel chair (he was a top class rodeo performer before an injury paralyzed him from the waste down) – will surprise Kristi Noem and become the first Democratic governor in that state since Dick Kneip (1970-78).
Most important Governor’s Race: Andrew Gillum wins handily in Florida, helping Bill Nelson win re-election. This is big in part because Barack Obama and Donald Trump both campaigned heavily in Florida this week – Trump will see this as an embarrassing loss to Obama.
Maine: Janet Mills wins the governorship, while Jared Golden defeats Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s second district (where I live). My district gave Trump it’s electoral vote in 2016 (Maine splits up their electoral votes).
If my predictions are right, we are on the eve of an historic election, one that will buoy Democratic spirits and send the GOP a warning that Trump maybe doing them more harm than good. If I’m wrong, well, then I’m wrong. We’ll know soon!