Tell Me What’s Gonna Happen

I ran into one of my occasional readers the other day. He was glad to see me as I entered his office greeting me by the website’s name. His question was basically the title of today’s article (and certainly the inspiration of it.) I was honesty with him and said I didn’t have any inside information or scoops; I just write opinion pieces. The only prediction I made was what I have been saying here for months now: I don’t know when this will all end or just how we will get there but I expect the Trump administration to end with Trump’s resignation ala Richard Nixon in Watergate. More on both of our minds was the mid-term elections and I’d like to share some predictions about them from my “30,000 foot perch”. Let’s explore.

Without some earthshattering October surprise there will be a Blue Wave. It will not be the same size in every race. In some it will be a tsunami in others it will be a ripple by the time it reaches the shore. At this point I’m reasonably certain that the Democrats will take back the House. I’m not willing, nor do I feel qualified to predict the size of the seat change. (I’ll leave that to experts like the staff of the Cook Political Report.) I am much more skeptical about the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate; in fact I could see a net loss of a seat or three. My official prediction is none; it is simply too early to call at this point. I really haven’t spent anything close to sufficient time and effort tracking the gubernatorial races. I just know that (unlike the Senate) the numbers favor the Democrats so any size of blue wave will yield Democratic pickups.

We will have plenty of close elections; many more than in a typical mid-term with the Democrats in the minority. As in any close election in any year or political climate the key will be voter turnout. If my voters turn out I win and vice versa. The biggest thing Democrats have going for them is that their likely voters appear to be much more energized and enthusiastic about voting than the Republicans’ likely voters are. Many moderate and conservative (in the true sense of the word) Republicans are disgusted with Trump who they fear has taken over their Party to its detriment. The hard core Trump base still sees him as some sort of savior but his name is not on the ballot. The Tea Party people are still out on their largely racist right wing limb and will only be motivated to vote for extreme right wing candidates. Here is another prediction: the next Republican House caucus will be both smaller and further right.

Admittedly my sample size is small, but I like what the Tom Perez-led DNC appears to be doing. I see a lot of what I call “ground troop” activity earlier in the campaign season and more locally focused than in years past. It appears the state parties – who were on the verge of irrelevance if not extinction  – have been empowered and resourced to do early coordinated campaign and get out the vote (GOTV) work. There is no substitute for the retail politics of shaking hands, kissing babies, knocking on doors and simply asking for people’s votes! This has been women led and issue oriented. Many voters who are extremely likely to vote for Democrats do it in spite of party label, not because of it. They identify with the issues Democratic candidates support and are actually turned off by party labels. They care about public education, health care, the environment, the right to choose, equality and opportunity etc.

This must serve as a lesson to Democratic candidates: It is simply not enough to be anti-Trump; proclaim what you stand FOR! In addition to voters you need volunteers and donors. Progressive people aren’t going to go door-to-door or write a check just because they share your dislike for the idiot in the Oval Office.

As we have seen in the plethora of special election races where Democrats either upset Republicans or made elections extremely close in places where they shouldn’t be competitive, the is energy out there and it is on our side. 2010 was a disaster mid-term for progressives. In fact we are still very much paying the price for it. The core problem was low voter turnout among our people coupled with Tea Party energy on the other side. You have to give the devil his due; they got out to the polls. I will be very interested in juxtaposing the 2010 and 2018 turnouts.

Politics is much like basketball. Watching what your opponent does often tells you what can be effective against them. Remember the Republicans have spent most of this decade working diligently on suppressing the vote. That means they fear a large Democratic turnout. What is going to happen is the Democrats will have a great 2018 if they get the vote out. It’s really that simple.

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