U.S. Elections: Wave and Counter-Wave
The Midterm elections in the United States were extremely interesting. There was a huge Blue Wave of people coming out to vote against Trump’s party, but unlike most midterm elections, there was also a Counter-Wave of enthusiastic Republicans coming out to support Trump’s party (not to mention strategic voter disenfranchisement and Gerrymandering). The Wave and Counter-Wave made for record-high voter turnout, and the Red Counter-Wave did a great job of preventing a disaster and even gaining seats in the Senate, but the Senate was mostly the result of an extremely favorable mix of what states happened to have seats up for election.
The Blue Wave simply won more votes, enough to overcome the Counter-Wave by about 7% in the House, the only nationwide vote. That’s an amazing result for the opposition party in a midterm year with a great economy. It hasn’t happened since 1966 when Vietnam was heating up and the Democrats had just passed Civil Rights legislation losing a vast majority of the people who were actually allowed to vote in the South.
It would be interesting to see estimates of how many races the Democrats would have won without Trump’s Counter-Wave–if Republican turnout had been more consistent with typical in-party midterm election turnout.
With the President, Senate, and Supreme Court functioning as a Republican block, the election won’t make a huge difference in power right now, but it looks bad for Republicans in the future. Although Trump’s taken over the Republican Party, he has done nothing to increase the size of its coalition. If anything, he’s shrunk it, only making up for that by increasing enthusiasm among his coalition.
To win in 2020, he needs the nearly exact same thing to happen as 2016. A big enthusiasm gap in the right places so he can squeak out an electoral college win in pretty much the same states again.
Trump and the Republicans tenuous hold on a great deal of power rests on his ability to command disproportionate enthusiasm among a minority of voters and on the party’s ability to use voter disenfranchisement and Gerrymandering to translate those votes into election victories.
It seems far more likely that Democratic numbers and enthusiasm will continue to grow, and there will be a big change in 2020.
Will this create an opening for more progressive policies like Basic Income? I’ll discuss that in my next post.