The general consensus, even among hostile media, is that the midterm election results went relatively well for Trump and the Republicans, due largely to an increased majority in the Senate, and a less-than-disastrous loss of the House, particularly in historical terms. While there is some truth to this, a look under the hood for a more detailed analysis of the results shows some problematic conditions for Republicans.
First, there is a fairly widespread pattern in the margins of victory across the board. In Democratic Party dominated “blue” states the Democratic candidates won by very large, landslide margins. In contrast, in too many Republican-leaning “red”states the victory margins were much thinner, sometimes razor-thin. That ought to set off alarm bells, particularly where the margins have been narrowing, as it suggests a potential transition of the state to a more competitive status, if not towards the other party. This applies to both the House and Senate (Governorships are more fluid due to state and local conditions). It means that Democrats are more competitive in “red” states than Republicans are in “blue” states.
Second, Republican congressional losses were concentrated in the suburbs, once the base of the party. It is possible that many of these seats can be regained in subsequent elections, as long as they remain “swing” districts, but others are slipping away. The present political landscape makes it easier for Democrats to make incursion in Republican territory than the reverse.
Third, Republicans cannot count on the Democrats to self-destruct. Although the “resistance” and the far-Left have gotten a great deal of attention, that does not translate into public support. But Democrats played it smart in this election by fielding a large number of center-moderate candidates, including a significant number of veterans. They avoided identity politics and other assorted evils previously foisted upon us. This enabled them to win swing and Republican-leaning districts. If the Democrats follow this strategy in the next presidential election it will become a very difficult contest for Trump and the Republicans.
On this basis it is fair to say that most Americans are, for the most part, terminally moderate. The idea that the country is “deeply divided” is an illusion that many have been sold on by the media. “Division” is inherent in democracy. On almost any question there is going to be a majority and a minority, resulting in a division of the house to resolve a question. There may be intense divisions between activist minorities on both sides, but it is a mistake to conflate this with the pubic at large. For all the ideological noise, elections are often decided at the last minute by votes cast by people who are oblivious, disengaged, and uncommitted. For most people have a life outside of politics, where they pursue a myriad of interests, and seldom identify intensely with any political cause.
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