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Sep 04 2018

Katy bar the door

It’s Election Season for fair and would be scarier than Halloween if it happened more than every other year. Unlike some I’m still hopeful democratic change can be achieved at the Polls. Roe is 71% popular, how popular do you need to be?

It’s easy to be optomistic given the current corelation of forces and political terrain. It plays to lefist strengths though I don’t expect much policy change.

Gridlock is the best we can hope for and the least we should settle for. We will be able to oppose better. Surprised they’re not running “Culture of Corruption”, it worked for Newt. Maybe they’re saving it for ’20.

Idiots.

A blue wave or not?
By Dan Balz, Washington Post
September 3

Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take control of the House. Given everything known at this point, the question is: Why shouldn’t they be able to do that? The Cook Political Report, for example, lists 38 Republican-held seats as toss-ups or worse, and 27 GOP seats in the “lean Republican” category, which means Republicans have the advantage but the races are competitive. The number of Democrats in toss-up or worse? Just three, with two more on the “lean Democrat” list. That imbalance speaks volumes about the climate.

The party that holds the White House almost always loses seats in midterm elections, especially during a president’s first term, and especially when a president’s approval rating is below 50 percent. Other indicators speak to the Democrats’ advantage. Through a series of special and regular elections since Trump’s victory, Democrats have shown themselves to be more energized. They have outperformed Hillary Clinton’s vote percentage in district after district.

Beyond that, there are Republican retirements. The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman counts 41 GOP-held seats with no incumbent on the ballot, including 23 because of retirements. He said it’s the highest number of Republican open seats since at least 1930 and perhaps much longer. That’s significant because open seats are easier to flip than seats with incumbents.

But will there be a blue wave (enough to get 23 pickups), a blue tsunami (Democratic gains of well beyond 25), a blue tornado (picking off Republicans in a more haphazard and less predictable pattern), a strong tide, a riptide or just a blue surge (that would keep Democrats short of their goal)?

Strategists differ on just how powerful and pervasive the forces are ahead of the November balloting. A few Republicans believe their party will still hold the House in January; most are far more worried. A few Democrats believe the wave will be a tsunami, pushing pickups into the range of 35 or 40 seats; others are cautiously confident. Republican pollster Ed Goeas offers a simple definition: If Democrats win the House, it was a wave; if not, it wasn’t.

In the Senate, it’s just the opposite. The Democrats are playing defense on Republican ground, and they face what might be the worst map in generations. GOP strategist Karl Rove took a look back and concluded that this is the worst map for any party since the country began electing senators by popular vote in 1914. Will Ritter, another GOP strategist, jokes that it’s the best map for Republicans “since they moved the Senate from Philadelphia” (which of course was before the modern Republican Party even existed).

For starters, of the 35 seats in play this year, nine are in Republican hands. The rest are held by Democrats (or, in the case of Vermont, by an independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats). Add the fact that 10 Democratic-held seats are in states Trump won in 2016, with five of those 10 in deep-red states.

The good news for Democrats is that a few of those incumbents in the purple states won by the president are considered in good shape. The bad news is that some of those in deep-red states are highly vulnerable, among them North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill. Democrats feel a bit better about West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and even better about Montana’s Jon Tester, but Trump won Manchin’s state by 42 points and Tester’s by 20 points. Add to the list of worries for Democrats the state of Florida, where Sen. Bill Nelson faces a serious challenge from Gov. Rick Scott (R), who can spend his own fortune in one of the costliest states in the country.

So what’s the path for Democrats? The first step is to protect all or virtually all those vulnerable incumbents. Bruce Mehlman, who worked in the George W. Bush White House, suggests that’s not out of the question. He did a study looking at 333 Senate races in 10 midterm elections dating to 1978. He concluded that what matters most “is not being from the party that holds the White House, regardless of a state’s partisan lean.”

If Democrats manage to protect their incumbents, they have to win only two more seats. Prospects are considered best — but not certain — in Nevada and Arizona, followed by Tennessee. A long shot is Texas, where Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke has captured the imaginations of Democrats as no other candidate this year. He is giving Republican Sen. Ted Cruz a strong challenge but is still the underdog.

Republicans are confident that they will still hold the Senate in January. “There isn’t a plausible path,” one strategist said. “Every night I dream of trading maps with my Senate colleagues,” said another Republican who is focused more on House races. Dick Wadhams, a Colorado-based GOP strategist, believes his party will emerge with more Senate seats than it has today. In that case, he said, the blue wave “will be tinted with purple haze.”

The gubernatorial races are the opposite of the Senate races. Of the 36 contests this fall, 26 are in states controlled by Republicans, nine by Democrats and one by an independent. More than a dozen races have no incumbent, thanks largely to term limits. Democrats hold 16 governorships today and will gain ground. The question is how much?

Though they will get less attention than they deserve, the gubernatorial races will have an impact on politics at the state and federal levels lasting well into the next decade. That’s because, after the 2020 Census, governors who are elected in November will play a key role in the next round of redistricting (at least in the states where legislatures and governors still control the process).

Republican gubernatorial and state legislative victories in 2010 gave the party power over redistricting, which in turn produced congressional maps that have given the GOP an added advantage in maintaining its House majority. For that reason alone, the stakes are sizable.

Beyond that, gubernatorial races are important for shaping the 2020 presidential campaign. For a political party, having the governorship doesn’t guarantee that its presidential nominee will win that state, but it’s a boost nonetheless. Having the governorship is critical to building infrastructure in political parties, and Democrats have been weakened dramatically by their lack of power in many states.

Strategists are looking specifically at Ohio and Florida, where there are toss-up governors’ races in open-seat contests in states that have often been the biggest presidential battlegrounds in recent years. Other battleground states with competitive gubernatorial races include Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Nevada.

Finally, as several strategists noted, a Democratic victory in 2018 would mark the fifth election in the past six — the others being 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016 — that can be defined as change elections. If that’s the case, it will be another reminder of the power of change and the degree to which voters remain unhappy with the state of politics.