In November, a Blue Wave Is Unlikely. A Blue Ripple? Maybe.
The tale of a wave, as told by three races:
Democrat Joel Ossoff ran for Congress last year against now-U.S. Rep. Karen Handel. He spent about $31.5 million. That’s about 4 times as much as Handel spent. Ossoff lost.
Handel got a nice boost from outside groups that ran ads supporting her ($18.2 million v. about $8 million for Ossoff). But the math stands: Ossoff still had Handel beat by about $40 million to $26 million.
Earlier this year in Pennsylvania, Democrat Conor Lamb defeated Republican Rick Saccone by two-tenths of one percent — in real terms, 627 votes. In this case, Lamb was outspent by Saccone by a margin of 2-1. He won and did so in a district that went for Donald Trump by nearly 20 points.
And yet: Take a glance at his website. Lamb emphasizes his service as a U.S. Marine. He lists seven priorities, not a one of them dealing with the inflammatory issues of the Left (abortion, “transgender rights,” redistributing income, etc.). In appearance, he is so clean-cut he makes Beaver Cleaver look like a hippie. He even admits that Obamacare has flaws.
Finally, the election Tuesday in Ohio looks like it has come up for the Republican, Troy Balderson. As of this writing, it looks like he won by about 1,700 votes.
Donald Trump came in and seems to have pulled Balderson across the line. The candidates seem to have spent about the same amount, although outside spending is unclear.
And now, the question: This is a “wave?”
An Upcoming ‘Blue Wave?’
Yes, more than 40 state legislative seats have gone from the GOP to the Democrats since November 2016. But bear in mind that more than 900 went from Democratic to Republican during Barack Obama’s eight years in office. As CNN reports, “Republicans grew their numbers massively at the state legislative level during the Obama presidency,” which means “there is considerable fat to trim from Republican ranks before you come anywhere close to cutting to the bone.”
I don’t want to whistle past a political graveyard. It’s possible the GOP will lose a number of seats in Congress and state races in the fall. But will there be the kind of sweeping changes we saw in 1994 or 2006? I don’t buy it.
I am by no means the ultimate authority on these things, but I’ve been involved in presidential, state-wide, and congressional races for more than 30 years. After a while, experience joins with instinct to give one a healthy sense of things. And, for me, that sense is anything but one of panic.
In the seven “toss-up” upcoming U.S. Senate races, there are at least seven current Democratic seats at risk, some seriously. The GOP is almost in a lock to retain 46 of its current 51 seats, meaning the Democrats would have to win no less than five seats to recapture the upper chamber. This is tough sledding any time, but especially in mid-term elections, when public interest is much less acute than a presidential election year.
Moreover, there is a very strong possibility that Republicans might actually pick up seats in Florida, North Dakota, and Vice President Pence’s home state of Indiana.
As to the House, Republicans currently enjoy a 42-seat advantage over the Pelosi party. Could the GOP lose 25 seats and give the House to the Dems? It’s conceivable, but unlikely.
Good Signs for the GOP
The economy is booming. The President just held a White House summit with 20 corporate business leaders (oh — you read about that in the mainstream media, right?) about how to get more skilled workers.
Think about that for a second. America’s companies are trying to find enough people with the training they need to fill jobs. Is that a good problem to have, or what?
In this kind of environment, one in which employment is soaring and American economic dominance in the international marketplace is re-emerging, it will be hard for the Left to trot out its typical message of doom, gloom, division and demagoguery. Bernie Sanders is weeping somewhere.
Things can change very quickly in politics. But right now, there seems to be no gathering wave.
Most Americans are looking around and seeing prosperity. As ever in a fallen world, not everyone is prospering equally in every neighborhood in the country. But most Americans are doing well or at least doing better. In the words of that great philosopher Chico Marx, “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?”
The looming Kavanaugh battle. It will be surprising if Democrats don’t overplay their hands, pummeling Kavanaugh to energize their very liberal base. But in doing so, they will arouse the ire of conservatives, who will again be reminded of why a Republican majority is needed. The Democrats will, I suspect, help with their own undoing.
Kavanaugh is an originalist. He has the audacity to claim, in an era of relativism and judicial activism, that words mean what those who use them say they do. Applied to the Constitution, that’s a dagger aimed right at the heart of liberalism. In their frantic efforts to stop him, the Left will expose its foolishness, not to mention its scariness. Extremists on full display is a great visual — for Republican candidates.
Finally, President Trump’s base is incredibly loyal. After 500 days in office, 87 percent of Republicans say they like what the President is doing. That’s ten points higher than Ronald Reagan’s approval rating at the same point of his historic presidency.
This extends not only to candidates the President endorses but to the profound dissatisfaction with “business as usual” shown by millions of Americans in the 2016 election. Discounted by political professionals and much of the media, these voters show up. And liberals wonder who they are and where they came from. Again and again and again.
I am no prophet. Things can change very quickly in politics. But right now, there seems to be no gathering wave. If anything, it’s a ripple.