The Second Conversations of the 2018 Midterms

When it comes to the 2018 Midterms, there are the obvious questions and then there are those that are never really discussed. Here are some of those questions.

 

 

When it comes to coverage of major election cycles (ie years with midterm or presidential elections), political coverage is always focused on the bigger questions that plague politics. Such as:

 

  • How will the Trump administration’s policies hurt (or help) Republican candidates running this year?

  • Will Democrats be able to capture either the House or Senate (or maybe both)?

  • How many times do I have to see [INSERT CANDIDATE HERE]’s goddamn ad during my stories?

 

And then there are the second conversations. These are the type of talking points that are discussed about in political circles, but never really discussed either. Oddly enough though, the second conversations are the ones that give you a more holistic perspective on the political landscape. We’ll be posting a few more of these, in the coming months, leading up to the November Midterms. As for right now, enjoy these first batch of questions.

 

 

Recently the President of the United States told everyone on Twitter that the Muller Investigation will be working to meddle with the 2018 Midterms. While we all know this is tweet is insane bullshit, why even tweet something like this out? What’s the endgame here for Donald Trump? (Even though it’s INCREDIBLY disconcerting to hear a sitting US President question the legitimacy of the 2018 Midterms, tweets like these should become more prevalent as we get closer to November. In reality, they serve three purposes for Donald Trump: (1) it energizes diehard Trump supporters to go out and vote during the 2018 Midterms (playing into the narrative that their vote is fighting the “Liberal Deep State”), (2) it delegitimizes the Muller Investigation (because golfing and taking shots on the Muller Investigation are just a few of Donald Trump’s favorite things), and (3) it pisses off liberals and the media (which is another one of Trump’s favorite things). The bigger question is how moderates who voted for Trump in 2016 will feel about his insane tweets? In 2016, it didn’t affect their decision, because even after hearing some of the asinine things he would say on a microphone, they still elected him president. Trump is making a bet that his particular brand of bullshit won’t be punished at the polls. We’ll just have to see in November if that is in fact the case.)

 

 

Is President Donald Trump really the best person to be telling Republicans to get out and vote in the 2018 Midterms? (Of course not! Donald Trump generally doesn’t care about things that doesn’t directly affect Donald Trump. If Trump were tied up with Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth – other than being highly aroused – he would tell you that he could care less about the 2018 Republican races, because only his reelection efforts matter to him. If you need any proof regarding his sentiments towards the 2018 Midterms, in a room full of Republican donors (aka the people that he’s trying to persuade to care about the 2018 Midterms), he recently went “off-script” and said, “So your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016 — although I’m not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don’t know who the hell wrote that line! I’m not sure. But it’s still important, remember that.” I’m guessing the Republican National Committee (RNC) will start to take issue if this keeps happening.)

 

Is it just me or is President Donald Trump’s approval rating now only “awful” instead of “God awful?” (It isn’t just you. Based on FiveThirtyEight’s approval rating aggregate system, President Trump’s approval rating has been on a steady climb from 37.9% in the beginning of the year (Jan. 2018) to a barely respectable (but still historically low) 42.4% at the end of May 2018. For Democrats using Trump as a political boogeyman, if this trend continues, that steady rise could be problematic in the future. Just not yet.)

 

Is it beneficial for Democrats to have Nancy Pelosi stay on as Democratic leader? (This is a difficult one to answer. But first, some background. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently announced that she would be staying on as the party’s leader in the House, even though many within her own party had questioned whether it was time for her to step down. Now there are two opposing, but equally viable, narratives going on. One is that Pelosi is a fundraising powerhouse for the Democratic Party, in which she brings in millions for the Democrats each campaign cycle (in most recent estimates, it’s said that she outpaced her previous quarter by $10 million!!). On the flip side however, Pelosi remains very unpopular to anyone that doesn’t identify themselves as a Democrat. It’s well documented that Pelosi is one of the least popular members in Congress, with her general approval ratings hovering around the mid-to-high 40s. Those are “Trump Like Numbers” (aka TLN) (aka not very good). Also, Republicans use Pelosi’s name and image to campaign against their Democratic opponents quite often. Which as a general rule of thumb, if the opposition is name dropping you in a campaign ad, for a race that you’re not even in, you might just be a liability to some in your own party. While Pelosi is definitely not a boon for Democrats trying to get elected in close congressional races, she does continue to bring in the checks. As long as that’s the case, it doesn’t look like the Democratic National Committee (DNC) cares if she stays on as House Leader.)

 

If Democrats were able to take control of both the House and Senate in November, then the impeachment of Trump is basically a forgone conclusion, right? (Nope, not necessarily. People forget that the impeachment of a US president is purely political, and not a legal act. Unless Democrats have the overwhelming support of the public to impeach Trump, they most likely won’t broach the issue in fear of it backlashing against them. Though they will vaguely refer to impeachment incredibly often because, let’s face it, cheap shots at Donald Trump is easy and very much in vogue among their base.)

 

Will we ever see a campaign ad like Don Blankenship’s ever again? (Will we see an ad that refers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” or have a US Senate candidate refer to someone of Asian dissent as “China people” ever again? I want to say probably not, but political history is littered with Don Blankships and their truly awful political ads. Plus I’m 95% certain we’re all trapped in someone’s rejected attempt at political satire. So I wouldn’t count it out.)

 

 

While on the subject of Don Blankenship, could he pull an upset by winning the West Virginia Senate seat as a third-party candidate? (Listen, years ago I would have posted that Simpsons Laughing gif here as a response to this question, but in 2016 we made Donald Trump the freaking president, so I don’t count out anything anymore. But I will say if Blankenship does OVERCOME being a third party candidate of a made-up political party and OVERCOME not having the resources or money of a major political machine and OVERCOME being generally hated in West Virginia over his role in the worst U.S. mine explosion in 40 years and OVERCOME being a generally unhinged individual that demands everyone in politics take a drug test because he believes most government officials are hooked on “the drugs”; if he can somehow combat all those factors, then I would say maybe there’s a slim chance. Maybe.)

 

Could Georgia actually be the first state in US history to elect an African-American woman as governor? (Potentially yeah, it’s a very real possibility! This is hard to imagine for a lot of people considering (a) Georgia is a deeply Red state that hasn’t had a Democrat governor since 2000 and (b) racial and gender progressiveness is not something that we associate with “the Peach State.” But Stacey Abrams, who was formally House Minority Leader in that state, looks to have a real shot at being elected Georgian governor as a black woman (in which she would be the US’ first). Of course there are some major factors that have to go Abrams’ way for this to become reality. The first is that the state’s 47% non-white demographic would have to get behind Abrams if she were to have a chance, specifically African-American women. Second, she would have to persuade a decent chunk of moderates, who have soured on a Donald Trump presidency, that going against the status quo of Georgian governors (usually old, Republican, white men) would be a sensible option for them. If she can get both things to happen, Abrams then sets herself up to make history.)

 

According to Political Data Inc., there are more California voters registering as Independents than as Republicans in the latest primaries. Is this a “canary in the coal mine” moment for the GOP in that state? (Nah, that canary died a long time ago. This is just the natural progression that trends have been pointing to for a while now. Republicans have been becoming an endangered species for years in California, but this will effect election efforts of those seeking local office. As for the few Republicans eyeing DC, if the environment has been viable for them to win thus far, this recent finding from Political Data Inc. shouldn’t change that.)

 

Could more liberal candidates on the Democratic ticket turn-off moderate voters? (Maybe? In an upcoming midterm election cycle, where Donald Trump is our current US president, the Democrats should be feeling optimistic about gaining seats in both the House and Senate. Sensing opportunity however, many non-traditional Democrats have challenged long time party members for their congressional seats and ended up winning their respective primaries. They even made their own Twitter hashtag over this (#Resistance), just to let you know how serious they are about this! Yet the question remains, can these outsider Democrats make their case to moderates? In contests like Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional House race, where Democratic nominee Kara Eastman beat out former U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford (a long time Democrat that had the financial support and institutional backing of the party), it’s uncertain how moderate voters will react to Eastman in the general election. Which understandably worries Democrats. While this wouldn’t be an issue in a “bluer state” like Michigan or Pennsylvania, but in the red-ish Nebraska, it will be interesting to see if Eastman’s message (which she usually focuses on more progressive talking points like gun control, abortion access, and healthcare expansion) resonates with moderates.)

 

 

Work Cited

Silver, Nate. “How Popular Is Donald Trump?” FiveThirtyEight, 4 June 2018, projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/?ex_cid=rrpromo.

Robillard, Kevin, et al. “Can the Most Hated Man in West Virginia Win?” About Us, POLITICO, 26 Mar. 2018, www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/26/west-virginia-senate-don-blankenship-2018-217703.

Diamond, Dan. “Trump Just Stepped All over GOP Midterm Messaging.‘Your Vote in 2018 Is Every Bit as Important as Your Vote in 2016 – Although I’m Not Sure I Really Believe That,” Trump Ad Libs. ‘I Don’t Know Who the Hell Wrote That Line.” Pic.twitter.com/tk6G7CfD4H.” Twitter, Twitter, 23 May 2018, twitter.com/ddiamond/status/999083079095463936.

Palmer, Anna, et al. “Playbook: Pelosi’s Giant First Quarter.” About Us, POLITICO, 30 Apr. 2018, www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2018/04/30/nancy-pelosi-fundraising-total-266783.

“Nancy Pelosi Favorable Rating – Polls – HuffPost Pollster.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/nancy-pelosi-favorable-rating.

Baseballot. “What Went Down In Tuesday’s Southern Primaries.” FiveThirtyEight, FiveThirtyEight, 23 May 2018, fivethirtyeight.com/features/georgia-texas-kentucky-southern-primaries/.

“Absentee Vote Tracker.” Political Data, Inc., 27 May 2018, www.politicaldata.com/absentee-vote-tracker/.

MSNBC. “Progressive Nebraska Candidate Kara Eastman Talks Health Care, Guns, Abortion | MTP Daily | MSNBC.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 May 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=9662dv3AiBo.

 

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