Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: Midterm Preview



Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday, so you know what that means?  Time for Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today we are going to take a look at the midterm elections.  Before we get going on what to expect, some news items. 

 First, White House senior advisor and Mr. Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner had his security clearance downgraded from "top secret" to "secret" by Chief of Staff John Kelly.  This is big news because as a senior advisor, Mr. Kushner was privy to state secrets. This news comes after Mr. Kushner filed numerous amendments to his original application.  This development would have never happened if it was not for former staff secretary Rob Porter.  More Jared Kushner news, CNN, the Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as numerous real news outlets are reporting that Mr. Kushner was the target of foreign attempts to manipulate him.  Yours Truly wonders how much longer the princeling will remain in the White House?  Speaking of White House comings and goings, Communications Director Hope Hicks handed in her resignation.  Sources say that she planned to leave for a while but the timing of the announcement leads Blogger to think otherwise.  Ms. Hicks testified yesterday before a the House Intelligence Committee.  Her answers were mostly evasive but admitted to telling white lies to appease her boss, but not when it came to alleged collusion with Russia.  Makes you wonder.   Alright, on to the midterm elections.

What are the midterm elections?  The midterms are elections that take place half way through the president's term.  This is a chance for people to elect their representatives, senators, governors and state legislators. Typically, they are referendums, more like an "evaluation," on the party in power, in this case, the Republican Party.  Judging by the current state of affairs, things are not looking too good for the Republicans in Congress and the statehouses.  Allow Blogger to set the stage in House of Representatives.  Currently there are 179  seats that are solidly Democratic and 174 seats that are safe in Republican hands.  Eight seats that are likely to go blue and 26 seats that are likely to go red.  Ten seats that lean blue, 18 that sway red, and 20 that can go either way.  In the Senate, Republicans hold a razor slim 51-49 majority.  This means that both houses of Congress are ripe for a blue takeover.  To wit, the hashtags #bluewave and #bluetsumani have been popping up around the social media, indicating the excitement Democrats feel over the possibility of re-taking control of Congress.

There is evidence to suggest that this feeling may be fact.  A new CNN/SSRS national poll suggests that Democratic voters are more pumped about the midterms than their Republican counterparts.  Chris Cillizza reports, "A majority of registered Democrats--52%-- say they are either 'extremely' (30%) or 'very' (22%) enthusiastic about 'voting for Congress this year" (cnn.com; Feb. 26, 2018; date Feb. 28, 2018).

On the other hand, Republicans are looking forward to the midterm elections like someone about to have their teeth drilled.  "For Republicans, 17% say they are 'extremely' enthusiastically about voting this fall while another 23% say they are 'very' enthusiastic." (Ibid).

What can takeaway for this information?  "Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans are 'extremely' into voting this November.  And history tell us that, especially midterm elections, the most enthusiastic and passionate voters usually vote..."  (Ibid)  Everyone else, not so much.

What are the issues that has Democrats eagerly going to the polls?  At the forefront are gun control #MeToo.  Although Americans have expressed more satisfication with a strong economy and the prospect of lower taxes that will increase their paychecks.  That does not mean the economy will take center stage in November. Gun control, sexual harassment and violence continue to generate more passion and energy among two of the most critical components of the Democratic coalition: women and young voters.

John Hardwood reported on CNBC, "[young people] the constituency speaking out the loudest in the wake of the massacre of 17 students at a Florida high school" (cnbc.com; Feb. 20, 2018; date accessed Feb. 28, 2018).  The surviving students and their supporters rallied around the issue of gun control, generating a loud and ferocious backlash against the National Rifle Association and their Republican allies.  Some of the NRA's corporate sponsors heard the message loud and and clear.  Delta Airlines has ended its discount program with the the organization, prompting a boneheaded Geogia state legislator to threaten to kill an airplane fuel tax break for the airline, if the company did not reinstate he discount. Today, Dick's Sporting Goods announced that it was no longer selling semi-assault rifles and ammunition. 

Reports of that the president kept top White House aide Rob Porter on the job despite FBI reports of repeated domestic violence allegations; sexual harassment and violence rippling across every facet of American society have uncovered a major problem the Republicans have with attracting women voters. This includes Mr. Trump, the target of multiple sexual harassment accusations.  This makes the Republicans very vulnerable among female voters.  These reports have energized more women to stand for elections.  

However, there is a glimmer of hope for the Republicans.  Mr. Hardwood writes, "On issues, [a Quinnipac Unversity Poll released Tuesday] it showed Republicans at near parity with Democrats in voter opinion their handling of the economy,mother federal budget and infrastructure. Republicans have a clear opening to battle on that terrain" (Ibid). 

A big factor in he 2018 midterms is voter turnout.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted a survey in January revealed that Democrats are as likely as Republicans to cast their ballots in this year's midterms.  This is break from the two previous midterms, in which Republicans were more eager to to the polls (washingtonpost.com; Feb. 4, 2018; date accessed Feb. 28, 2018).  Democratic National Committee leaders are hoping that anti-Trump feelings can enhance the party's chances to regain control of Congress. 

In the previous midterms, Republicans have been able to parlay increased conservative enthusiasm and disapproval of former President Barack Obama into consecutive victories and control of Congress. That was then and this is now.  Now is more Americans expressing disapproval of Mr. Trump. Also, some of the Trump voters are feeling a sense of buyer's remorse--are less motivated to vote. The diehard Trump voters are thoroughly committed to turning out to vote--"74 percent of Republican-leaning voters who 'strongly approve' of his job performance saying they are certain to turn out" (Ibid).

Does this mean we can definitely expect a "blue wave" in November?  Right now, the polls say that Democratic takeover of Congress in November is possible.  Then again, all the polls said former Secretay of State Hillary Clinton would win the White House and we know how that turned out. We still have a long way to go until the November 6 Election Day and anything is possible. One thing is certain, you need to make your voice heard. Register to vote, if you have not and vote if you have. If you will be turning eighteen before Election Day, you can pre-register.  Check with your state's Secretary of State office. We will talk more on this subject between now and then.