A six-year-old boy runs into a toy store ahead of his mother and makes a beeline over to the gun department. Next, a three-year-old girl pulls her mother into the store and leads her directly to the Barbie aisle. She knows just where it is. Finally, a ten-year-old boy enters the store. Knowing precisely what he came for, he heads straight for the LEGO sets and makes his selection. All three children have found exactly what they came for.
Similarly, Tuesday’s midterm elections offered pundits and partisans almost anything they were looking for. The results can be interpreted a hundred different ways. Republicans explain their loss of the House Majority by telling us it is an expected political norm for the party occupying the White House to lose control of Congress in the first midterm election. And that may be true. The New York Times has a different take. “Democrats harnessed voter fury toward President Trump to win control of the House and capture pivotal governorships Tuesday night as liberals and moderates banded together to deliver a forceful rebuke of Mr. Trump.” That may also be true. So, what was it, an expected political norm or voter fury toward President Trump?
1. It was a mediocre night for both parties. As a lifelong Republican, I am delighted that we expanded our majority in the Senate. President Trump can continue transforming the judiciary and should be able to bring a Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process relatively unscathed as well as a replacement for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. A Republican Senate can also prevent bills originating in the House from becoming law.
But Republicans should all be concerned about how narrow the margins of victory were in states like Florida and Texas, two battleground states that are key to Trump’s bid for reelection.
Amendment 4 was on the ballot in Florida. The initiative, which passed, will restore voting rights to more than one million felons. Considering who felons are most likely to vote for and that now Governor-elect Ron DeSantis prevailed over Andrew Gillum by only 43,190 votes and now Senator-elect Rick Scott won by only 30,264 votes, Republicans should be worried about 2020. I know that voting is probably not a top priority for many felons, but if only 10% of them voted, it would mean 140,000 additional Democratic votes, enough to have handed a victory to both Gillum and Bill Nelson.
2. The electoral landscape in Texas, a state with 38 electoral votes, has been changing over the years. It is a state that is a must-win for Trump in 2020. My worry here is, although I’m delighted Ted Cruz won, he should have won by a larger margin. Governor Greg Abbott won reelection by 13.5 points and Cruz beat Beto O’Rourke by only 2.6 points. Granted, Cruz is rather unlikeable.
But the state seems to be slowly turning blue, especially, and almost counterintuitively, the districts that border Mexico. Although most of the map appears red, the populous cities of Dallas, Austin, Houston and Corpus Christi are turning bluer. Rush Limbaugh discussed what’s going on in Texas on his radio show.
They think they won with Beto losing last night, because he got so close and because of all the money he raised. They’re now touting Beto as their presidential front-runner, bunch of Democrats, bunch of Hollywood leftists think, “This is the guy because he almost won.”
But if you look at Texas the way we’re describing here, every county — I don’t think there’s a single exception — every county of Texas, starting with El Paso that comes down and borders Mexico, is Democrat. Now, how many there in that area are here via illegal immigration and otherwise?
So it is a challenge, I mean, going forward. How long can this keep up? What’s the demographic distribution of where these people are, how young are the people in the metro areas versus in the suburban and rural?
There’s Texas. We haven’t lost Texas yet. The Democrats are not gonna stop until they take Texas. There’s 38 electoral votes. If they get Texas, they’ve got a lock on the presidency forever. California, New York, Illinois, Texas, that’s all they need.
Now, take a look at that, folks. You see Dallas, you see San Antonio, Houston, Corpus Christi, little specks of blue there in population centers in Texas. Fort Worth is not quite blue, but it’s not red, either, nor pink. But fully 75, 80% of that state county by county is red. But take a look at that border with Mexico, and you see two little sections of pink there near El Paso. And outside of that, it is solid blue.
That is one of the best graphics I could show you to illustrate the necessity of serious border control, however it’s done — a wall staffed about you (sic) numbers of people to keep people from coming in, however it’s done, that right there is one of the ways in which Texas is being taken over, invaded, infiltrated, whatever word you want to use.
Now, that’s a microcosm for the whole country. The whole country, if you look at the continental 48, the vast majority of it’s gonna be red until you get to population centers where it’s solid the blue. And solid blue is where Santa Claus is. Big, liberal cities and states where they give away everything. That’s where Santa Claus is.
3. Republicans have nearly lost the state of Virginia. Sen. Tim Kaine easily held onto his seat. Democrats picked up three new House seats adding to the four seats they held onto. Republicans held onto four seats. Limbaugh said:
The Democrats have totally flipped Virginia. It’s gone. The Democrats are one election away from totally flipping North Carolina. If you live in Raleigh-Durham you essentially live in New York City now. If you’re Republican and you live in Raleigh-Durham you may as well live in Manhattan because your political life is no different.
4. A Democratic House Majority means gridlock. Some see that as a positive. The stock market likes gridlock. On the other hand, few of the important issues will be resolved. Although the Senate will be able to prevent passage of any unreasonable bills, keeping a check on the House, the enactment of much of President Trump’s planned agenda will become impossible. Frivolous investigations will be initiated and time and tax dollars will be wasted. House Committees will be led by such undesirables as the repellent Adam Schiff, the radical Maxine Waters and the inane Nancy Pelosi. Surprisingly, Trump expressed his support of Pelosi to return to her old role as Speaker of the House. Maybe he thinks her antics will provide some inflammatory material for 2020 campaign ads.
5. At 9:33 on Tuesday night, Fox News called the House for the Democrats. Their new voter analysis program allowed them to make this projection before polls had closed in the western part of the country, which should be illegal. Their job is to report the news, not to influence the news. All of the networks likely had the new voter analysis program as well, but following the debacle of the Florida recount in 2000, when multiple networks called the state for Al Gore before polls had closed in the panhandle portion of the state, which was located in a different time zone, they’ve learned something.
It’s now well known that all five TV networks and the Associated Press declared Florida for Al Gore at 7:50 p.m. Eastern time, 10 minutes before the polls closed in the panhandle counties. That could not have dissuaded many voters from casting ballots. But far more serious was the announcement by all five networks at 7 p.m. Eastern time that the polls in Florida had closed. As Brill’s Content reported: “At 7 p.m., ET, every network was talking about the poll closings in nine states. And every network was wrong: the polls were closing in only eight states. . . . The polls in that heavily Republican [panhandle of Florida] wouldn’t close for another hour — 8 p.m. ET.” The networks, with the exception of Fox News Channel, continued to repeat this misinformation throughout that hour.
If you had been a Republican in California planning to cast your vote on the way home from work that evening, why would you bother if Democrats had already won the House and you knew there was no way Dianne Feinstein or Gavin Newsome could lose? Well, you might still vote if you believed your candidate had a chance of victory in your district or for local elections or propositions. But, it would clearly depress the Republican vote.
And there were some very close House elections in the state. In CA-48, Democrat Harley Rouda beat Republican Dana Rohrabacher by less than 2800 votes. Another close race was CA-10. Jeff Denham won by 1287 votes.
Also, it didn’t help that anchor Chris Wallace chose that night to reveal his true Never Trumper stripes. He never missed a chance to tell viewers that Republican gains in the Senate had nothing to do with Trump. And Juan Williams became progressively more mouthy, annoyingly so, after the network had called the House for the Democrats.
The bottom line is that Tuesday’s results were truly a mixed bag for Americans on both sides of the aisle. They really offered a department store of results that we could either run with or leave alone. Now, each party has two years to correct the most glaring weak spots that the outcome revealed.
For Republicans, a good start would be action on healthcare, which exit polls show is an important issue to everyone. John McCain’s crucial “no vote” on the repeal of Obamacare in July 2017 prevented Republicans from opening negotiations to replace it. As McCain walked onto the Senate floor for the vote, he whispered to reporters, “wait for the show.” He then proceeded to kill the bill. Had he not done so, Republicans likely would have received more support on Tuesday.
For Democrats, this means actually coming up with a platform other than Trump is evil and must be impeached. For what else do they stand? I suppose that’s not fair. They stand for open borders, free health care, raising taxes and preventing the reelection of Donald Trump. The parties are so polarized, it looks doubtful they can find any common ground on which to compromise.
Welcome to the 2020 election season everyone!