Wednesday, November 7, 2018 -- A Split Decision, Looking Ahead

A Split Decision
 
There was something in last night's election results for everyone to celebrate. 
 
Mid-term elections generally punish the president's party.  But talk of a "Blue Wave" turned out be a lot of hype, while Republicans defied the odds and expanded their majority in the Senate.  As of now, the Senate looks to be 54-to-46 Republican if all races break our way.
 
In the House, there are still about 20 races that have yet to be decided (with Republicans leading in the majority of these seats).  But the margin should be close to 229-to-206 for the Democrats, who have gained at least 30 seats, but well short of the 60 seats some pundits were dreaming about not long ago.
 
Here is some additional analysis on last night's results. 

  • Democrat senators in red states who voted against Justice Brett Kavanaugh had a bad night.  Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri all elected conservative Republican senators.  Jon Tester in Montana, who benefitted from dirty tricks, barely held on. 
  • Once again, it seems Donald Trump's instincts were better than the GOP establishment's.  Trump made a decision to emphasize the Democrats' support for open borders and the migrant caravan.  He went into all the key Senate states, ran hard on that theme and we gained seats in the Senate. 
  • Paul Ryan wanted House candidates to run on the economy. GOP congressional ads emphasized the economy and we suffered an average loss for a mid-term election. To the extent that the economy helped at all, perhaps it minimized GOP losses. But it certainly was not "the key to victory." 
  • The simple explanation is that gratitude, which is what Ryan thought would carry the day, is not as big a motivator as anger.  There is deep anger on the left over Trump's victory in 2016.  On the right there is anger over the left's continuing  attempts to prevent us from securing our borders. 
  • The gains in the Senate are better than they initially appear.  Two weak Republicans -- Bob Corker and Jeff Flake -- retired.  Corker's seat was won by a strong conservative woman, Marsha Blackburn, and it looks like Flake will be replaced by a former fighter pilot, Martha McSally, who campaigned on strong border security.  In addition, John McCain's seat is currently held by Jon Kyl, who is more conservative than McCain was.  And Lindsey Graham seems to have had a "road to Damascus" conversion to being a stronger conservative.  
  • Not surprisingly, Mitt Romney won handily in Utah, which is why it was so disappointing to see Mia Love trailing in her House seat.  Romney was at the top of the ticket but he obviously had no coattails in his own state.  That's bad news for those who think candidates like Romney are the future of the GOP.  (See below.) 
  • Christians United for Israel Action Fund, of which I am the director of the Washington, D.C. office, is extremely proud of the educational campaign we ran regarding Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's pro-Iranian vote for Obama's nuclear deal with that radical regime.  Her polling collapsed soon after our ads ran.  By the way, all the Democrat senators who lost last night voted for Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. 
  • Democrat candidates vastly outspent Republicans, by as much as $450 million according to one estimate.  That is a historic gap.  Yet Democrats managed just an average result in the House, while Republicans gained seats in the Senate. 
  • Media bias was definitely a factor.  For example, there were several young charismatic candidates this cycle.  But while the media made liberal darlings Andrew Gillum and Beto O'Rourke household names, I suspect few Americans outside of Michigan and Missouri could identify conservatives John James and Josh Hawley.  
  • The election is already having an impact.  It was announced today that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out.  The president's frustration with Sessions was no secret, but the White House and Senate Republicans had agreed to delay any changes until after the election.  The president announced that Matthew Whitaker is taking over as Acting Attorney General, and he is now in charge of the Mueller investigation. 
  • In other personnel news, the president was asked at a press conference today whether his ticket in 2020 would be Trump/Pence.  Trump asked Vice President Pence to stand up and then asked if he would be his running mate.  Pence eagerly accepted.  So the vice president has job security for another two years! 

 
 
Looking Ahead
 
Losing the House means Democrats will launch multiple investigations against Donald Trump.  The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, is even promising to investigate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
 
But there is a risk for them.  Many of the seats they just captured are in swing districts, and the American people did not vote for investigations ad nauseam.  Democrats could easily lose these seats in 2020 when President Trump is driving GOP turnout. 
 
The Senate victory is huge.  Not only does President Trump have a firewall on legislation and impeachment, but filling judicial vacancies will be like an assembly line.  We are no longer dependent on unpredictable moderates like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. 
 
Hopefully, Democrats will think twice about conducting another Kavanaugh-like smear campaign against a future Supreme Court nominee. 
 
A final thought:  Republican leaders and consultants need to get serious about rethinking the GOP as the party of free trade and lax borders.  The Romney/Ryan model is not working nationally.  And if party leaders don't figure that out, they won't win another presidential election after Trump's time is over. 
 
When Obama ran for reelection, Mitt Romney based his entire campaign on the economy, which was lousy.  He refused to engage on cultural issues, and we know how that worked out for him.  How many times do we need to see that the conventional wisdom is not working before we understand why Trump won as a conservative populist candidate?
 
 
  
Palestinian Bigot Vents
 
Linda Sarsour, the Israel-hating anti-Semite, is not a happy camper this morning. Believe it or not, she is mad at the Democrats because they aren't radical enough for her.
 
She complained, "They [the Democrats] stay away from the Palestinians, they stay away from the leftists, and they stay away from the socialists."
 
Liberal Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz disagrees, and warned the Democrats not to "move to the far left."  He added, "Sarsour is an enemy of democracy and America, and of Israel."
 
This exchange between Sarsour and Dershowitz is just a hint of the growing split within the Democrat Party.

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