Despite the accepted belief that the polls did not predict Donald Trump’s victory in 2015, they did predict quite closely the popular vote, which was won by Hillary Clinton. National polls by their nature don't predict the Electoral College, which is determined by state by state results.
Similar dynamics may be in play this year. The generic ballot shows, nationally, who’s leading – the Democrats or Republicans. You need to look at the district by district polls to get some sense of the reality of who will be the majority in the House. But, thanks to aggregators like the Cook Report and others, we can get a sense. Those polls show the Democrats are likely to retake the House but not the Senate. And there are those gubernatorial races that are key and very interesting, including in Georgia and Florida. Still there will, no doubt, be surprises.
The closing messages are interesting. President Trump, despite party leaders entreaties, has returned to what worked for him in 2016 and is stressing immigration over the economy. He likes to create "us versus them" conflicts and that's what he's doing. The Democrats are focused primarily on health care.
Mid-term elections often are report cards on the incumbent president and Trump has made that clearly the decision this year. He has said to his supporters to consider that he is on the ballot, worried that the candidates won’t win on their own and worried about getting his voters to the polls.
To that end his lying has increased.
Whether it’s the steady progress he tells us about his “wall” (which has not even begun construction), or the “invasion” of immigrants from our southern border and all the bad people hiding in that invasion (even Trump has said there's no proof of that), he also is lying a lot. One fact-checker counted 83 lies on a single day.
Based on anecdotal evidence, interestingly, from reporters asking people on the ground, his supporters know he is lying and they give him a pass on it seemingly for two reasons: he’s delivering in their minds on the economy and judges and he “talks like they do.”
Those who go around saying his supporters are “stupid” should rethink their position. As Pat Banker, a retired registered nurse, told the Washington Post, “I don’t think he lies. He gets excited when he’s talking and he likes to exaggerate a little bit. But that’s just his way.”
Or Hope Heisler, an emergency room doctor, who said, “I’m not a fact-checker. All of the candidates whether they be Republican or Democrat, don’t say things completely accurately all the time. But I trust in President Trump.”
Those may be excuses for Trump, but those are not uneducated women voicing them.
As to who wins the House, likely the Democrats, though it could be a late night as there are many very tight races. The GOP is likely to keep and even improve their majorities in the Senate. I’m looking to the Democrats to win in the important Florida governor race (important especially to the 2020 election) and for Georgia to elect the country’s first black woman governor. That one may be contested after because of allegations of voter suppression and other matters. But even that possibility in Georgia is a huge political statement about the demographic changes in the country.
Assuming I’m right (and, yes, it’s mostly the conventional wisdom), we have some dark days to look forward to.
With the Democrats in charge of the House, the President will be unable to get his legislation passed. Heck, he even has trouble with that now when the GOP controls all branches of government. With Democratic chairmen of committees, we can look forward to more hearings into the administration though no effort at impeachment since that is politically tricky turf and with a GOP Senate, it goes nowhere anyway.
Trump will take credit for keeping control of the Senate and blame House leadership for losing the House.
It would be nice to think that in that new Washington, Trump would get kinder and gentler to try to coax Democrats into supporting him. But that’s not who he is. The next two years will be all about him positioning himself for his re-election attempt in 2020 – and that means the next two years will not be pretty.
Oh, and after tomorrow, the special counsel, who has retreated as is tradition before elections, returns to the news. New indictments are likely.
So we have a block on legislation, the President will continue to lie and take credit for the good and distance himself from the bad, and the special counsel returns to the news.
You may say, “so what changes?” The Democrats being in charge of the House is a huge change. They can legitimately block, when they choose, the President’s initiatives. Which will make his pointing to them as resistance to his ideas true for a change.
And did I mention the special counsel will return?