Election Fallout is a series which will look at what’s next for the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party, and Republicans following the 2018 general elections.

Despite President Donald Trump’s spin, the 2018 midterm elections were not positive for the Republican Party. The GOP lost a net seven Gubernatorial seats (Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin), at least 36 seats in the House of Representatives, and five legislative chambers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):

After legislative elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6, five legislative chambers flipped from Republican to Democratic. Democrats also took control of the tied Connecticut Senate and fully functional control of the New York Senate—it was a Democratic sweep. However, compared to past midterms, the gains were modest with Republicans maintaining a robust position in state legislatures.

State Chambers flips following the 2018 midterm elections via NCSL

With such sweeping results, the Republicans at the federal level should change their rhetoric regarding Social Security and Medicare. From an October interview from Bloomberg with Mitch McConnell:

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem. It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

McConnel blamed the rising federal deficit on the popular Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security programs — not the Republican-backed tax cuts which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects will add $1.9 trillion to the national debt between 2018 – 2028. If the Republican Party expects to win future elections outside of gerrymandered congressional districts, they will have to appeal to more than just the wealthiest of Americans, those motivated by hatred, and single-issue voters. According to current vote totals by the New York Times, the Republican Party received approximately six million fewer votes than Democratic candidates in federal House races across the country.

The current far right wing Paleo-Conservative identity of the Republican Party nearly saw them lose the Governor’s house in Georgia. They may have done so if not for the blatant voter suppression efforts of Governor-elect Brian Kemp during his time as the Secretary of State in Georgia. If what has typically been a solid red state is in play for the Democratic Party, it will become extremely difficult for the GOP to have a path to an electoral college victory during Presidential elections. Of note, this would only matter if a Democratic candidate doesn’t neglect to campaign in traditionally blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton made that error during the 2016 Presidential campaign, which may have cost her the election despite election interference orchestrated by Vladimir Putin.

With President Trump leading the Republican Party, it’s highly unlikely the party will see any change prior to the 2020 elections. On their current path, they could lose control of the Senate, while losing more ground in the House. Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and David Perdue (R-GA) are vulnerable Senators who could lose in two years.

The exit polls from the 2018 elections also paint a bleak future from the GOP on a national level, with younger voters largely rebuking the party.

2018 national exit poll results by age via CNN

 

Millennial and post-millennial voters are motivated by Universal Healthcare, tuition-free public universities, and are more likely to be turned off by bigotry and racism than older Americans. Conservatives will need to move away from the far-right to appeal to younger voters, yet that does not seem to be in the parties immediate plans. Their best short-term hope is that the Democratic Party continues to run Third Way candidates who embrace neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy against them in general elections.

 

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