What the midterms foretell


This has been one hell of a week.

Since polls closed on the midterm elections just 50-something hours ago, Americans have already been whipped through President Trump’s freewheeling press conference, the ouster of Jeff Sessions and imperilment of Robert Mueller’s investigation, and yet another awful mass shooting. You could be forgiven for losing sight of the historic election we just witnessed.

So: Before we move on to the next scandal du jour, let’s try to catalogue what we learned from the midterms, and what they tell us about the future.

1. Suburban voters and women are the key to political victory

This is what 2016 was supposed to look like. The well-to-do women in suburban Virginia, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, and elsewhere were supposed to be aghast at the idea of a grotesque pig like Donald Trump occupying the White House. Many such women were indeed aghast, but not enough — or at least not enough college-educated white ones — to save Hillary Clinton.

This time was different.

Democratic gains in the House came in densely populated, educated and diverse enclaves around the country, around major liberal cities like New York and Philadelphia and also red-state population centers like Houston and Oklahoma City. The Republican Party’s traditional base in these districts collapsed, with college-educated white voters joining with growing minority communities to repudiate President Trump and his party. [The New York Times]

What was the difference this time? Two years of President Trump in action, for one. Astoundingly competent candidate recruitment by the Democratic Party, for another. But the biggest reason: Hillary wasn’t on the ballot! The political world is still overrating Trump’s ability to defeat someone not named “Hillary Clinton.”

2. The GOP legislative agenda is dead

In January 2017, I heard a member of the Republican congressional leadership make this candid observation: Historically, unified Republican control of the federal government lasts about 18 months; we need to make the most of it. They didn’t. And, oh, how they didn’t. They passed two major pieces of what I will characterize as ideological or “movement” legislation — the tax cuts and (if we’re talking only of the House) an ObamaCare replacement.

The tax cuts were, if anything, a drag on Republican messaging this cycle, and health care was an unmitigated albatross. If we want to zoom out from movement politics, we could include spending on priorities like the military. But if, on the morning after Election …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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