What to expect from the 2018 midterm elections

So, most important thing to know about
midterm elections is that fewer people vote in them than vote in the
presidential elections. So usually in a presidential election we have about 50
to 60 percent of the voters turning out. In a midterm you sometimes have maybe
forty percent of the voters turning out. So that difference accounts for a pretty
stable finding in political science and political history which is that the
president’s party almost always loses seats in the midterm elections. In fact,
the average in midterm elections, going back many decades, is 30 seats. The other
thing we know from history is that if a president is unpopular, he loses even
more than the average number of seats. So, president Trump’s a chronic unpopularity,
he’s never hit 50 percent in his time in office of approval ratings, that means that he
may — his party may lose in fact more than the average number of seats.
All of this points, all of this is just straight history and it points to why
Democrats are feeling good about this election and Republicans are nervous. You
know, it’s very hard to predict elections and one of the ways we know that, of
course, is just looking back to 2016 where Democrats thought they were gonna
win and they didn’t or they didn’t win where it mattered in the Electoral
College. So, what 2016 taught us is that
it’s not the macro picture, because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but
it’s really the micro picture. It’s state by state and district by district. Here,
the Democrats are in danger of being overconfident because so many of these
congressional districts have been drawn to favor one party or another, usually
the Republicans, and so we’ve had elections where the popular vote went
for the Democrats but the House of Representatives
remained in the hands of the Republicans. That’s a feature of something we talked
about called gerrymandering, where they pack a lot of Democratic votes into one
district and then the districts around them tend to be Republican districts. So
that’s one of the reasons that Democrats may have a little bit more trouble than
people are thinking. The second reason that Democrats may have trouble in 2018
and may not get the results they think they’re gonna get, is that in 2016
we had an unprecedented rural vote in areas that we hadn’t seen this kind of
vote before. That kind of mobilization, which President Trump is very good at
doing, that could in fact hurt some Democratic chances in districts where
Democrats currently are looking pretty good. Let’s face it, election predictions
always rise and fall on one factor which is who turns out to vote, and the
pollsters and the pundits can guess at that, they can try to figure out who they
think is gonna vote, but in the end, as we saw in 2016, who turns out actually to
vote can upend a lot of predictions.

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