By Gaurav Sett ‘19
Midterm elections are just around the corner, and hundreds of races for Senate, House, and governor seats will be decided this November. As Democrats and Republicans respectively claim that a blue or red wave is coming, midterms have gained an unprecedented amount of attention.
First, enthusiasm among Democratic voters has been consistently high; with Trump in office, Democrats have been looking forward towards midterms since his inauguration. A major issue that has recently enraged Democrats has been the Kavanaugh appointment, which has not only highlighted the Republican party’s indifference to women’s issues in general but also has made the lack of legitimacy of our democratic institutions a mainstream talking point among the left.
Furthermore, healthcare has become the center of the Democratic platform as Republicans gut Obamacare and progressives unveil bold new Medicare-for-All plans, an incredibly appealing option as millions struggle with the devastating costs of healthcare today. Moreover, the party’s left-wing has been gaining traction with young voters who typically don’t turn out but could have a big impact in upcoming elections.
Republicans, conversely, have a weak hand. The tax bill has been steadily losing approval, the promise to “drain the swamp” has been lost behind by dozens of scandals, and healthcare proposals would slash benefits for the large uneducated working-class portion of Trump’s base.
As a result, Republicans have been focusing on cultural issues such as abortion, religious freedom, and shifting social norms, as well as issues branded as national security like immigration. Despite their failure to pass significant bills on these issues with a Republican Congress, Trump’s rhetoric and 2016 victory proves that the Republican base is not primarily concerned with policy and is largely activated by merely opposing the left.
Undecided voters are likely to lean left in November, as much of the Republican strategy has catered to their base, like pushing through Kavanaugh without a real investigation. Although the economy has been growing overall, most benefits have gone to corporations and the wealthy, while the majority have only seen wages stagnate or even fall due to inflation. At the end of the day, the independent votes largely differ for each race.
The situation at hand looks promising for Democrats, ahead of Republicans about 5-10 percent in generic congressional ballot polls, and with the presidential disapproval rate over 50%. An analysis of aggregate polling data by FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats about a 3 in 4 chance of gaining control over the House. Additionally, polls indicate that most of the 36 gubernatorial races favor Democrats. But not all hope is lost for Republicans. The base is incredibly loyal to Trump, and with most Senate seats up for reelection in swing districts previously held by Democrats, Republicans hold the advantage in the Senate. Indeed, FiveThirtyEight’s statistical model places Republicans’ odds in keeping control of the Senate at 7 in 9.
With weeks to go before the elections, anything could change. For now, though, it appears that a blue wave will claim the House and many gubernatorial races, but won’t be enough to take over the Senate.