October 12, 2018

Midterm Watch

As of early Friday morning, FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats a 78.5 percent chance of taking the House and an 18.3 percent chance of taking the Senate. Both sides are focused on firing up their base and getting a strong voter turnout on Election Day.


See past issues

From the Left

The left is optimistic about a blue wave, but cautions that “a Democratic victory in the midterms is far from a sure bet."


In the Senate, they have said they will fixate on health care in the coming weeks... Democrats [also pledged] to focus on creating well-paying jobs through infrastructure investment and on tackling Washington corruption... polls have shown for months now that a strong majority of voters are favorably inclined toward congressional candidates who will provide a check on this White House.”

New York Times

Democrats need to do “a much better job explaining how Republicans have utterly failed in their oversight obligations. Republicans have not addressed possibly unconstitutional emoluments, conflicts of interest, improper White House interference with the Justice Department, endemic corruption throughout the executive branch and suppression of government data the administration doesn’t like — to name just a few items...

"Instead, Republicans, either by omission or commission, have enabled the executive branch to run amok.”

Washington Post

At the state level, “Democrats see a golden opportunity to win back hundreds of state legislative seats across the country, rebuilding a bench decimated by midterm election results in 2010 and 2014."

The Hill

But “they face a tough-to-crack Republican firewall... In 2010, the Republican Party put $30 million into a project called Redmap, short for Redistricting Majority Project... The numbers speak for themselves. Nationwide, from 2009 to the present, Democrats lost 960 state legislative seats to the Republicans... This year, for the first time in recent memory, Democratic and liberal organizations are investing heavily in the battle for state legislatures."

New York Times

Finally, some are looking ahead to congressional races in 2020, with grim prospects. “The next cycle is the one where the harsh reality of the Senate’s structural bias towards smaller, less dense states truly begins to sink in for Democrats...

"Rather than a pendulum shift in Democrats’ favor, the 2020 Senate election is shaping up to be the moment when the organic Republican majority within the Senate falls into place. Trump won 46 percent of the popular vote in 2016 but 60 percent of states, and states like Idaho and Wyoming get just as many senators as California. Unless a whole bunch of red states suddenly turn blue, Democrats will be stuck where they are: in the minority.”


Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right makes the case that GOP candidates should focus on far-left positions taken by prominent blue-state Democrats, and are optimistic about holding the Senate.

From the Right

The right makes the case that GOP candidates should focus on far-left positions taken by prominent blue-state Democrats, and are optimistic about holding the Senate.

“What have we learned about the Democratic Party over the past two years?... They are against his Supreme Court nominee, before that person is even named. They are against cutting the corporate tax rate, even though both Presidents Obama and Clinton were for it. They have refused to work with President Trump in any policy area — not on energy, not on prescription drugs costs, not on rebuilding the military, not on health care, not on regulatory reform."

Washington Times

GOP candidates should “join President Trump in pounding the Democrats’ left wing... many Democrats want to end private health insurance in favor of a $32 trillion government program...

"Others back Sen. Bernie Sanders’s ‘free college’ and ‘job guarantee’ proposals. Every Democrat should have to account for these wacky positions of their party’s left flank. GOP candidates can force them to choose sides and either alienate independents or disappoint their bases.”

Wall Street Journal

In the Tennessee Senate race, for example, “rather than target [the Democratic candidate] Bredesen, who is generally liked... [the GOP] makes the case that the majority in the Senate is razor-thinand that Tennessee voters could be responsible for turning the Senate to a Democratic majority...

"Featuring clips of radical senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Cory Booker, (D-Spartacus), [they note] that ‘If Bredesen wins, Dianne Feinstein picks your judges, Bernie Sanders runs the budget and Chuck Schumer runs everything.’”

The Federalist

This approach makes sense given that, “as with everything else in the Trump era, the midterm elections are about Donald Trump... Trump dominates the public life of this country like no other modern commander-in-chief. He dominates politics, the media, Twitter, entertainment and the cultural debate. He is the driving force in the most hyperpolarized climate in a generation... It's all base politics now as each party has abandoned the mushy center."

Fox News

Regarding complaints about representation in the Senate, “there is no structural advantage for Republicans in small states. As much as Democrats love to hate the sparsely populated regions of what they call ‘flyover country,’ any advantage the Republicans have there is matched by Democratic strength in New England, Delaware, and Hawaii...

"Four years’ absence from power is not a structural defect; it is a flaw in the quality of their Senate candidates. Instead of tearing down institutions, Democrats should gain power the old-fashioned way: by nominating candidates who can win elections.”

The Federalist

“If Joe Biden can win his way through the primaries, he’s almost lab-engineered to beat Trump. He doesn’t cause Republican panic, he has the potential to connect with white working-class voters in a way that Hillary couldn’t in 2016, and he has a potential to connect better with black voters than Hillary did… if Biden emerges from [this] crucible, Trump will face a very different challenge than he faced in 2016.”
David French, National Review

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“The fans who avidly followed the men’s tournament certainly weren’t doing anything wrong. And it’s hard to argue that each of them had a moral obligation to be exactly as interested in women’s soccer. Even if we could stop them from watching the men more than the women, should we?…

“It’s tempting to answer that the fan choices aren’t innocent, they’re sexist. But since we can’t peek into their hearts, to say that definitively, we’d have to assume that men’s greater speed, strength and endurance definitely make nodifference to the sport’s quality. Fair enough, but then why do fans prefer to watch Megan Rapinoe play instead of the sedentary elderly who could presumably use some exercise? Alternatively, maybe pay should be equalized precisely because biology is unfair. But that seems to be an argument for curbing the pay of all top-level athletes, who have to hit the genetic lottery just to get on the field. It might be easier to focus on the distributions across society at large, rather than every individual industry, especially when fundamental biology is in play.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

You could get paid $25/hour to binge-watch sports.


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