MIDTERM PREDICTIONS: The House

The midterm elections are less than two weeks away and all the pundits are furiously predicting the outcome. Will the enraged resistance allow the Democrats pick up enough seats to take control of the House in a repudiation of the Trump agenda? Can Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump defy the odds and retain their dominance of Congress? Will liberal darling Beto O’Rourke upset “Beautiful” Ted Cruz? What will happen? How will that affect the government? Well look no further, because here is the best aggregation of all the data related to the 2018 midterm elections and the most foolproof prediction you’ll find.

The House
The Blue Wave is coming. The President and right-wing pundits can say what they want, but all the evidence suggests that Democrats will take the House. Right now the Republicans hold 235 of 428 occupied seats, which amounts to a 21 seat majority. Now generally, the party in power loses seats in the midterms. It’s a side effect of anger politics, where someone wins the Presidency, their party gets complacent and doesn’t show up for the midterms, the members of the opposite party are mad someone they don’t like is in the Oval Office, and they win a large victory in the midterms. In 2010 the Republicans picked up 63 seats in the house and in 1994 they took 54. President Bush was spared in 2002 because of the aftermath of 9/11, but in the 2006 midterms he lost 31 seats and the House. The party in power is at a disadvantage in the midterms. So what’s going to happen to the Republican majority?

While Democrats will probably take the house, they will not be successful as some, including me, expected a year ago. Republicans have been outspent by almost three hundred million dollars in the House and President Trump is relatively unpopular. Also if you didn’t notice, Democrats really hate the guy, and excitement on the left is high. These factors lead to the prediction of a massive “blue wave” in which Democrats would pick up 50+ seats, giving them a large majority.

The shift is probably not going to be that drastic. Analysis site FiveThirtyEight has the chance Democrats take the house at 82%, with the average pickup being 36 seats. Polling aggregate RealClearPolitics has the number of seats that are toss-ups at 31. It predicts that 26 of these seats will go to the Democrats, which would give them around a 15 seats majority. The link to both sites will be at the bottom of this post, look for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Real Clear Politics also has the Democrat lead in the generic ballot around 7%. That isn’t great for Republicans, but it is right in the middle of the range it’s been all year. 2018 for Republicans will probably not be as bad as 2010 or 1994 were for the Democrats, but the Democrats will probably end up with a 10 to 20 seat majority in the house. That’s not much, and it’s smaller than the current Republican majority, but come January Nancy Pelosi will probably have reclaimed her title as Speaker of the House.

There are three ways Democrat control of the House could go. There’s the anti-Trump route, the hard left route, and the moderate route. The first and most likely outcome is that Democrats dedicate the next two years to frustrating President Trump. It’s what they’ve been doing since he was elected, and it’s seems to be working thus far. With Republicans still in control of the Senate, they probably will not be able to pass major legislation. However they do have the power to investigate, which they could use to the extreme. Going this route, Democrats will try to find dirt on every member of the Trump administration and turn every single scandal into a national story. There’s also the potential impeachment of Trump or Judge Kavanaugh, neither of which would go anywhere, but it would excite the base. This approach wouldn’t achieve anything policy wise, nor would it make our country more united, but it would help energize the Democrats for a 2020 bid on the White House and Senate. Also since I bet Republicans would try something similar, it’s hard to fault the Democrats to doing it too.

As an aside, this might be the biggest problem in modern politics. Being divisive rewards. The system itself has come to reward bad behavior. To use the Kavanaugh hearings as an example, it benefits Democrats, especially those with Presidential ambitions, to suggest Republicans don’t care about sexual assault, and it benefits Republicans to suggest Democrats don’t care about due process. How we can fix this is a question beyond me, but we need to figure it out how if we are to solve the toxicity of our political situation.

The second option is that Democrats take the progressive route. They stay away from opposing President Trump just because, but they promote a bunch of left-wing policies that have no chance of being passed, something like an assault weapons ban or single-payer healthcare. This is the least likely occurrence, since it wouldn’t produce any policy wins with Republicans in control of the Senate and White House. It also wouldn’t energize the base as much, as “we need to restructure the tax code” is a much less exciting pitch for 2020 than “Trump is an evil white supremacist colluding with the Russians to destroy our democracy.”

The third option is the Democrats take the high road and work across the aisle a bit. Now I have problems with the first two options, the first on tactical grounds and the second of ideological grounds, but this might not be a bad thing. There are number of issues we need to address, such as criminal justice reform, stronger anti-corruption laws, or prison reform. All of these would have a hard time getting passed with Republicans possessing a sizable majority in the House. If this happens and Democrats and Republicans try to address issues they have some common ground on, Democrats taking the House would be a good thing. Now I find this outcome unlikely, but I can be a little optimistic.

But Dallas! Aren’t you a principled conservative who cares about small government, the right to life, fiscal responsibility, and free markets? How can you possibly say Democrats taking control of the House could be a good thing? It boils down to Republicans are a poor stand-in for a truly conservative party. Their attempts to pass Obamacare repeal (a bill I thought was disappointing), a 20 week abortion ban, and an immigration reform bill I actually liked, all went nowhere. Republicans picking up a couple extra seats in the Senate is unlikely to change that. As for the budget, Republicans are only fiscally conservative when they aren’t in power, so it’s hard for me to lament them losing control of the branch of government in control of the purse. This is why the national debt has passed 21 trillion dollars and we’re running an 800+ billion dollar deficit in an economic boom, and no one cares. They haven’t even defunded Planned Parenthood, which as a conservative boggles my mind. That should have been one of the first things they did, and it wouldn’t have even been that hard. President Trump’s only real successes that involve the legislature are Judges Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and the Tax Cut bill. The Tax Cuts have already passed, and Judges don’t require the House. As for the Democrats are awful and can’t be given power argument, Republican control of the Senate should block any of the more left-wing proposals of the Democrats that get through the House. If the Democrats are going to work for criminal justice/prison reform and try to limit the power of the executive, I cannot lament the downfall of a party that does such a poor job representing conservative values. Republicans have had control of the government for two years and the lack of conservative wins from the legislature is severely disappointing. Winning an election doesn’t mean what I believe in has won, it just means the guy I like is in power. Which unfortunately is the point we’ve come to in politics.

On a final note, the fact the House of Representatives is so impotent and irrelevant I don’t care if the party I generally agree with controls the chamber, is an affront to the Constitution. The Founder’s were very clear- the legislature was to be the most powerful branch of government. Now it’s the weakest, and the House in particular is a shell of what it was designed to be. Legislators have become so much more interested in staying in power or climbing the political ladder they no longer are willing to wage ideological war in the political battleground they were elected to. The legislature, especially the house, has abdicated their responsibility to the detriment of us all.

Thank you for reading, I know my cynical libertarian came out a little towards the end of that piece. And yes, I know there are two branch of the legislature up for election. I wanted to do the House and Senate together, but this piece is already over 1500 words, so my Senate Predictions will probably be out Monday. The links to the 538 and RCP House models are below. As always, click that button in the bottom right to follow the blog, and follow @DK24blog on Twitter. Let me know what you think and I hope you have a great weekend.

538: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2018-midterm-election-forecast/house/#deluxe
RCP: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2018/house/2018_elections_house_map.html

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