A friend says: The Democrats took several traditionally Republican seats in California which pushed their gains to plus 36 instead of the plus 26 last night. That’s a lot bigger than I anticipated although I don’t know if substantively it will do anything. Assuming Trump runs in 2020 and is reasonably popular many of those seats will revert to Republicans unless those elected to those seats significantly moderate their positions. It looks like both Dana Rohrbacher and Steve Knight lost in close elections, but Bloomberg came in and donated a huge amount of money for targeted (and non targeted) ad buys. I think this also made the difference. If the numbers reported by Robert Stacy McCain after speaking with a Republican campaign operative are true that the Democrats outraised and outspent the Republicans by a 3 to 1 margin, then the Republicans should be happier than they are. They need to ramp up a Congressional campaign fund, find good candidates and they will be in good shape in 2020.
The election should give both Democrats and Republicans something to worry about. The Democrats out raised, outspent, had the media on their side, had the “resistance” on their side, had polls showing 55% of the country believing that the United States was going in the wrong direction, and this was the best they could do. Winning back some House seats. Losing Senate Seats.
The Republicans should be concerned because long term demographic trends are against them. And I don’t mean the big influx of Latino voters, but the overwhelming preponderance of young voters who supported the Democrats. The Republican Party had better start appealing to enough of them to offset the die off among the Republican supporters. It also looks like the ability of at least some of the Republican Candidates ( Scott and DeSantis in Florida) owe their election to Trump’s rallies and campaigning for them in Florida. This is all well and good, but the party needs to go beyond the personal appeal of Trump if it wants to maintain power.
Both sides also should take a look at the closeness of the vote in races such as the McSally Sinema race in Arizona, the Florida contests, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Tester in Montana. Any of these elections could have easily gone the other way and the same is true for many of the house races. The question is turnout of the base. The problem is that the more polarized the country becomes and the more the other side is viewed not as the loyal opposition but the enemy the greater the turnout of the base. Thus there is no incentive to be conciliatory, but there is a premium on being confrontational.
It is my hope that Trump will work with the Democrats in the House to craft legislation, such as on infrastructure. I don’t know whether the Democratic base will allow that.
I think that if things cool down, which they might now that the Democrats have some power, then we could actually have a productive and internally peaceful next two years. If they don’t cool down, this could be the precursor to a societal breakdown.