Nov 12, 2018
Frank Donatelli Gives 10 Snap Observations on the 2018 Midterm Elections
In a Nov. 9 Law360 article, McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor, Frank Donatelli, reviewed the 2018 midterm elections with ten snap observations.
TEN: The turnout for the 2018 midterms was the largest in history – approaching 113 million voters.
NINE: Republican campaigns focused on immigration, and base Republican voters were energized by the Brett Kavanaugh U.S. Supreme Court hearings. However, Republicans did not do well in southwestern states, and the strong economy was not emphasized.
“Trump is comfortable talking about issues that motivate his base, and that won him an upset victory in 2016,” said Donatelli. “However, he has yet to construct a broader message that might win him support of new voters to fortify his electoral coalition.”
EIGHT: The congressional issue agenda will be altered with a Democratic House majority, including oversight investigations and scrutiny for the president’s revised trade treaty with Mexico and Canada. Progress on immigration and criminal justice reform may be possible – both parties now have a stake in seeing legislative results.
SEVEN: Republicans gained at least three Senate seats, making it easier to confirm Trump appointees.
SIX: Republicans control 62 of the 99 state legislative chambers, giving them a strong voice in redistricting, and Democrats won governorships in key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – all states won by the president in 2016.
Donatelli noted, “Not only do those wins give Democrats more leverage in the next census and redistricting, but they also enhance Democratic chances to win those states’ electoral votes in 2020. Governors matter in many ways.”
FIVE: Progressive stars came up short.
“The results support the argument of Democratic centrists that their party needs to attract more independents and moderate voters to win larger states,” Donatelli said, and added a prediction – “Progressives will resist that conclusion.”
FOUR: Important voter groups such as college-educated women and suburban voters came out for Democrats in key swing districts – helped by Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
THREE: Republicans won governorships in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont – all reliably blue and purple states. It is still possible to decouple a state campaign from national issues and partisan national interest groups, Donatelli added.
TWO: Spending on political advertising this election cycle is close to $4.7 billion.
ONE: Democrats continue to make inroads in the Southwest – winning in New Mexico, taking the Senate and governorship in Nevada, and Beto O’Rourke came within three points of winning the Senate in Texas. Democrats also made major gains at the state and local level. In the past, the business-friendly policies of Republicans attracted urban votes, but the GOP is now changing from “a suburban party to one dominated by rural voters and cultural matters,” he said.
Donatelli added, “For those of you who cannot get enough of politics, the next presidential election begins — RIGHT NOW.”