President Donald Trump will now have to contend with a Congressional House that isn’t so friendly to his administration. Democrats have seized control of the House in one of the hardest fought midterms in recent memory.
Still, anyone looking to write off Trump isn’t paying attention. Republicans expanded their control in the Senate and while they lost races for governor, they also picked up some key victories. Perhaps most importantly, Trump’s base proved as reliable and dependable as ever.
Presidents often lose during their first midterm. Remember how many seats Democrats lost in the House during Obama’s first midterm? Sixty-three, wiping out what was a huge majority. Democrats also lost 6 seats in the Senate, obliterating what had been a near-supermajority. I write this as someone who supports Obama.
Americans often vote against their presidents during midterms. One could argue that doing so undermines said president and ensures that they can’t carry out their agenda. For the opposition, that’s the goal. For American voters, you have to wonder if that’s counterproductive.
Regardless, presidents have seen their party win in both the Senate and House just twice, first in 1934 and then again in 2002. Even party stalwarts, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, suffered losses in their midterms.
Regardless, Trump’s losses will surely throw a wrench in his agenda and ability to craft policy. Still, the losses in the House should be anything but a surprise. If anything, Trump’s losses were moderate by historical standards. Republicans will still control a big chunk of the House and expanded control over the Senate.
Trump Backlash Overrated?
The New York Times claimed that “the unusually high turnout illustrates the intensity of the Trump backlash.” As a liberal who was rooting for a blue wave, I can’t stop my eyes from rolling. If this were the case, Democrats would have seized more House seats, control of the Senate, and the hard-fought but ultimately lost governor races in Florida and Georgia.
The Trump backlash was real, to be sure, but his base remains as loyal and reliable as ever, something The New York Times seems to glance over. Turnout was high because both Republicans and Democrats showed up to vote. The result was a tightly contested midterm election that bodes moderately well for Trump come 2020.
A substantial number of Republican candidates for governor did lose out, including incumbent Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Bill Schuette in Michigan. Trump won both states in 2016. Republicans held onto the governor’s house in Ohio and Florida, however. In total, Democrats gained seven seats with Republicans losing seven.
Given that many of those losses were in purple states, Republicans probably aren’t sweating too much. This is especially true given that they picked up seats in the Senate. President Trump, likewise, has been painting the midterms as a victory. That’s an overstatement, in my opinion, but the hard-fought races and ability for Republicans to limit losses did erase the notion of a blue tsunami.
So long as Trump’s base remains with him, the “Red Wall” will likely keep Republicans from getting swamped. Maybe Trump will lose in 2020, and maybe Republicans will concede ground, but fears (and hopes) of massive Democratic gains seem unfounded, for now.