US President Donald Trump’s name may not be on the ballot in today’s midterm elections but his policies are a crucial factor with voters and that remains the Democrat Party’s biggest dilemma – Trump’s significant accomplishments as president.
Trump’s opponents on the Left were sure his hard stance on trade and America First policies which included withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be disastrous economically, instead, the Trump economy has broken almost all records.
The October economic data released last Friday showed that U.S. employers added 250,000 jobs during the past month and unemployment remained at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent. More people entered the labor force and wages made their biggest gains since 2009.
Trump also surprised many both at home and abroad in his foreign policy exploits, most notably meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and gaining a commitment to Pyongyang’s denuclearization program.
Yet for all that success, Trump appears to have made illegal immigration his primary rallying call to supporters
Ignoring the advice of those around him to focus on the strong US economy, the president instead stoked fears over the approaching migrant caravan, warning that the Democrats were weak on illegal immigration and border security, a strategic risk by the 45th president of the United States but one in which he seeks to reinvigorate his base.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Trump has forced Democrats more to the left and a loss could see a major split in the party yet the polls show The Democrats will gain control of the House with the Senate remaining in the hands of the GOP.
Democrats need to flip 23 Republican-held seats to win control of the House of Representatives
If Trump were to retain he and his supporters will see it as ja ustification of his policies. For the Dems, they would be perilously close to crisis.
Since the Roosevelt era, the President’s Party has only gained seats in the House and Senate during the midterm elections twice — in 1934 and 2002. Those gains were relatively meagre, with Bush II gaining 8 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate in 2002, and FDR gaining 9 seats in the House and 9 seats in the Senate in 1934. Bush II’s 2002 mid-term election stands out as a particular anomaly, since the country was still emotionally recovering from 9/11, and the Republican Party was able to capitalize and brand the party as synonymous with patriotism.
Clinton’s 1998 Democrats gained 5 seats in the House while losing none in the Senate. But excluding the midterm election following 9/11, the President’s party only gained seats in both chambers once since Roosevelt.
Midterm losses are far more common and tend to be massive, especially in the House. For instance, Roosevelt lost 71 seats in the House in the 1938 midterms, which is the biggest loss of House seats since. Roosevelt lost 55 House seats in 1942. Eisenhower lost 48 House seats in 1958. Lyndon B. Johnson lost 47 House seats in 1966. Bush II ended up losing 30 House seats in 2006, after escaping midterm losses directly after 9/11. Midterm losses aren’t just common, they are the rule.
Bar the few ardent opponents of Trump, most Democratic candidates remained focused on the party’s core issue: health care, in particular maintaining a federal requirement that insurance companies cover pre-existing medical conditions.
For Trump and the GOP it’s a case of ‘Promises made, promises kept’, but the voters will have the say on that.