Today is the midterm election. All members of the House of Representatives, whose term is only two years, are up for election. Also one-third of the Senate. An untold number of state and local officials and referendums will also be voted upon today.
And all of these elections, taken as a whole, are being framed as a referendum on President Trump. That’s the way Democrats are presenting them. And that’s the way the President is presenting them. In his campaign speeches for Republican candidates, he has been telling crowds that a vote for that candidate “is a vote for me.” Though voters should be considering a host of local issues and the candidacies of people they are familiar with, the state elections have been nationalized.
Indeed, they will make a big difference for President Trump. If the Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives–they only need to pick up 24 additional seats of the 435 total–they could file articles of impeachment against him (an action that has to be initiated by the House). Even if they don’t take that step, the House Democratic leadership is promising to initiate a host of congressional investigations against him and his administration (his business dealings, treatment of women, etc.). Should the Mueller investigation find no evidence of collusion with the Russians or obstruction of justice, which seems likely, a Democratic House leadership will probably find something to accuse him of.
A Democratic House would certainly block the president’s legislative agenda. There will be no more tax cuts, since revenue bill have to start in the House, and no chance for both houses to approve the building of a border wall, immigration crackdowns, or new military spending.
Gaining control of the Senate will be a more difficult task for Democrats. Currently, Republicans control the Senate with a bare 51-49 majority. But most of the seats in contention in this election are in states that Trump carried in the presidential race. The Senate holds the trial for any impeachment proceeding, which takes a two-thirds majority to actually remove a president. So any attempt to impeach president Trump will surely be futile. The Senate also confirms judges, so if Republicans can hold onto the Senate, they will be in a position to approve more conservative Supreme Court justices, if there are any more vacancies.
Democrats have been foreseeing a “blue wave” of anti-Trump voters. That could happen. No one knows who will turn out to actually vote. Those with strong convictions, such as those with a visceral dislike of the president, are more likely to vote. Then again, Republican feelings have reportedly been stirred up with what they perceive as the mistreatment of Judge Kavanaugh, as well as a backlash against what they perceive as Democratic extremism and mob actions.
For the crucial Independent vote, which often turns the tide in partisan elections, the economy is booming, with record high employment. Usually, when the economy is doing well, the incumbent is benefited. The slogan “Jobs Not Mobs,” which Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams helped formulate, is gaining traction with a lot of people.
The election today will have other ramifications. Will the liberal wunderkind Beto O’Rourke upset Ted Cruz in Texas, putting one of the nation’s largest and most conservative states in play for Democrats in 2020? Will Florida choose the very liberal Andrew Gillum for governor, which could herald a swing to the left in that perennial swing state? How will the Democratic candidates do who went far, far to the left, embracing “democratic socialism” and calling for the abolition of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and “Medicare for All”? If they win, that could herald a leftward shift in the entire party, including putting forward a very radical presidential candidate. If they don’t, that could mean the Democrats might oppose Trump with a more normal-seeming, centrist candidate.
So what are you going to do when you cast your ballot?
Illustration: U.S. Army photo