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Midterm Elections 2018: 10 Final Predictions Before Next Week’s Contests

BrianWilkins.org
November 3, 2018 (updated 8:07 a.m. Pacific)

UPDATED November 4, 2018: Those of you living in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District need to vote for Anita Malik. If you don’t believe she really looks out for “the little guy,” I have a real story.

We worked together at a company called iAcquire. She was my boss (Director of Marketing). Really cool, down-to-Earth lady. Anita gave me a raise just weeks after taking over the department because she recognized I was underpaid for the scope of responsibilities I had at the company.

I doubt I’ll ever work for a company again. But there are two people in the marketing space who I would consider going back to the 9-5 grind for. Anita is one of them. I once told her that she is too honest and genuine to be a politician, but here she is.

VOTE ANITA MALIK 2018!

 

—ORIGINAL STORY—

The past year has been one of the most intensely-watched Midterm Election cycles of my lifetime. There are only two outcomes possible on Wednesday: President Donald Trump becomes King Donald Trump, or there is some semblance of checks and balances restored in U.S. government. Voter activity has highlighted the importance of the 2018 Midterms.

Voter enthusiasm is at levels not seen in over 20 years, according to a Pew survey released this week. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Democratic voters said they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual. That is compared to only 36% of Democratic voters who said they were highly enthusiastic in 2014. The change among Republican voters was far less dramatic, with 52% and 59% saying they were highly enthusiastic in 2014 and 2018, respectively.

Elections always remind me of my big sister, who is no longer here in Earth. Her birthday is November 6, and she would have been 48 this election day. Its only fitting that I honor her legacy by picking the important races coming up.

Frankly I cannot wait until its all over, as people tend to act funky when elections are approaching. Prognostication when it comes to elections is an educated guessing game. But its always fun to make predictions and see how you fared afterwards. Here are my 10 predictions about the 2018 Midterms.

#10. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Jon Tester (D-MT) hold on in tight races and keep their seats.


McCaskill (L) and Donnelly.

That puts the Senate at 48-47 Republicans, assuming all the others favored to win do so. Thus five races will decide who controls the Senate in 2019.

#9. Tennessee picks Democrat Phil Bredesen (Senate 48-48 tie)

Bredesen, who was Tennessee’s governor from 2003-2011, will win on name recognition and give the state its first Democratic Senator since Al Gore in 1993.

Al Gore in 1990.

#8. Stacey Abrams loses a close one in Georgia

Only reason I cannot pick Abrams is because I cannot fathom two black governors in Confederate states (more on that in a bit). Abrams is dealing with voter suppression issues, but has a lot of star power backing her. Former President Barack Obama gave a speech on Abrams behalf in the state yesterday. Oprah Winfrey went door-to-door in the state asking people to vote this week too.

I want to say Abrams will win. But that is far too enthusiastic of a pick. The latest polls show Abrams and her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, in a virtual tie.

The Libertarian candidate in the race, Ted Metz, could greatly influence the outcome. Georgia requires the winner to get at least 50% of the vote. If nobody reaches that mark, a runoff election happens on December 4. So there’s my hedge. Abrams will not win on November 6, but she may win on December 4.

#7. Andrew Gillum becomes Florida’s first black governor

Ron Desantis is just a straight-up prick. There is absolutely nothing likable about that guy. That said, an Ipsos poll had Gillum up by six points on Halloween. A Vox Poppuli poll had Gillum up by three points yesterday. Vox polls are typically skewed towards Democrats, however. An Alabama-based pollster, Cygnal, put Desantis up by one point on October 29.

A Gillum win would be a helluva political accomplishment for the current Tallahassee mayor. Florida hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 1999. Florida, a state that is 16% black, has had only nine black officials elected to federal offices since 1871 (note: one of them was Allen West). It just seems like Florida is leaning Democrat in 2018, as already mentioned with Nelson.

Florida gets a lot of negative press. George Zimmerman, Casey Anthony, Parkland shooting, Orlando shooting, etc. It seems Floridians want to make national news for something positive for a change. Gillum would serve that purpose.

#6. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) squeaks by Dean Heller (R-NV)(Senate 49-48 Democrats)

Representative Jacky Rosen.

Heller is the only Republican incumbent in the Senate up for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Democrats also have 60,000 more registered voters in Nevada. An October 24 Ipsos poll had Heller up by six points. A CNN poll on Halloween had Rosen up by three points.

The stars just seem aligned for Democrats to gain a seat here. Rosen has voted with Trump 42% of time, so is not a total partisan. That should help her ascend from the House to the Senate next week.

#5. Heidi Heitkamp gets crushed in North Dakota (Senate 49-49 tie)

Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer.

Heitkamp had a 60% approval rating among the people of North Dakota as recently as April 2017. But Trump won the state by 35 points, and the polls are starting to reflect this. A Fox News poll released on November 1 had challenger Kevin Cramer up by nine points. Everything favors Cramer in the race. Republicans will gain this seat.

#4. Kyrsten Sinema becomes Arizona’s first female U.S. Senator (Senate 50-49 Democrats)

Kyrsten Sinema

One way or the other, Arizona is going to have its first female Senator, and it’s going to be Sinema. She is unique as a Democrat in a Red State because of her moderate voting record. Sinema has voted with Trump on 10 of 11 key issues through April of 2018. She also rarely mentions the President in speeches or otherwise. But the key issue is her opponent Martha McSally’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and potentially raise healthcare premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. That seems to have turned off many Arizona voters.

Its really not that crazy for Arizona to have Democrats in high places. Janet Napolitano was Arizona governor from 2003-2009, before leaving for President Barack Obama’s Administration. Napolitano is also one of four women to serve as Arizona governor (Rose Mofford, Jane Dee Hull, and Jan Brewer). Democrats flip this seat, formerly held by Jeff Flake.

#3. Ted Cruz holds off Beto O’Rourke in Texas (Senate 50-50 tie)

Beto O’Rourke.

This race will ultimately determine who controls the Senate. O’Rourke has been a good story. He’s drawn some lofty comparisons, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, due to the way he’s inspired crowds. But the fact remains, it’s Texas.

Lloyd Bentsen was the last Democrat to get elected to the U.S. Senate in Texas in 1988. Bob Krueger, a Democrat, was appointed to the seat by Texas governor Ann Richards on January 23, 1993 when Bentsen joined President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. Krueger lost a special election to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison six months later. Republicans have held both U.S. Senate seats in Texas since that time.

Cruz has consistently led in the polls throughout the race. Texas loves Trump, and Cruz had been one of Trump’s most reliable cheerleaders since the inauguration. O’Rourke will likely throw his name into the 2020 Presidential race if (when) he loses on Tuesday. Republicans hold this seat that was never really in question.

#2. Mike Pence becomes most powerful person in the Senate with a 50-50 split among parties.

Article I, Sec. 3 of the U.S. Constitution names the Vice President as the President of the Senate. But the VP’s vote only matters when the Senate votes 50-50 on a bill. That will happen a lot in 2019 with the foregoing scenario.

It is not unprecedented for the Senate to be split 50-50. The 107th Congress had a 50-50 Senate on January 3, 2001. Al Gore was the tiebreaker vote for 17 days between that day and when George W. Bush was inaugurated and Dick Cheney became the tiebreaker vote. The party leaders in the Senate at the time – Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-MS) – agreed to split the committees evenly by party and worked together in a power-sharing arrangement. Jim Jeffords (R-VT) switched parties in June of 2001, giving Democrats the majority, 51-49.

It will be interesting to see how Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell get along in a Senate like this. Perhaps Joe Manchin will pull a Jeffords, switch to the GOP, and give Republicans the majority again. Just more drama in Washington DC.

#1. Democrats seize control of U.S. House of Representatives

The only way this won’t happen is with low voter turnout. But right now, that seems unlikely.

The final Rasmussen poll, as of publishing, placed Trump’s approval rating at 51%. Rasmussen’s previous poll on October 29 gave Trump a 48% approval rating. No other poll from October 28 – November 2 ranked Trump’s approval rating higher than 44%. The only pollster that fivethirtyeight.com gave an ‘A’ grade for its polling methods, Marist College, gave Trump a 41% approval rating.

There is a prevailing accusation of Rasmussen being skewed positively towards Republican politicians. Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport told The Hill that the skew comes from Rasmussen counting only “likely voters.” Republicans have historically turned out to vote more often than Democrats. Most other pollsters use broader samples like “registered voters” and “adults.” Rasmussen basically nailed it when it predicted Trump would lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by two points in the 2016 Presidential Election. Trump lost it by 2.1 points, according to the official government number.

Polls are of course taken with a grain of salt ever since 2016. But there seems to be a lot of energy among Democratic, female, and independent voters, mostly motivated by wanting some kind of check and/or balance on Trump. Healthcare is also influencing the elections.

An ABC/Washington Post poll published on September 4 found that 66% of female registered voters disapproved of Trump overall, with 59% saying they strongly disapproved. Women have consistently turned out to vote more than men by statistically-significant margins in both Midterm and Presidential Elections since the late 1970s.

Voting white women of course chose Trump at a 52% clip in the 2016 Election. The latest numbers (October 31) from pollster Civiqs show that 51% of white women disapprove of Trump, with 46% approving. Trump has a 60% disapproval rating among white women aged 18-34. White women age 50+ approve of Trump at a 52% rate. The only group that overwhelmingly supports Trump is white males, at 58%. Trump has a 50% disapproval rating among independents, with 46% approving.

This is not to say Trump’s supporters are not energized. But it probably doesn’t help that the Trump campaign hands out more tickets to those rallies than there are seats. Many Trump fans in Montana drove hundreds of miles to attend a rally, only to be turned away at the door. The July 5 rally at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls filled all 6,600 seats. This has happened at other Trump rallies as well.

All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs on Tuesday. That dynamic alone is why its going to be very difficult for Republicans to win. The voter suppression tactics in Georgia and Texas may help Republicans in those states. But the GOP is also running several flawed candidates.

I cannot remember anytime in my life that a House or Senate candidate continued running for office while facing federal felony charges like Duncan Hunter. Hunter and his wife, both facing charges related to stealing $250,000 in campaign funds, are expected back in court on December 3. The most interesting House races involve Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. Both will likely win, but its those seats that will further skew the margin in Democrats favor.

Make sure to get out and vote if that’s your thing and you didn’t do an early ballot. Should be an interesting night for all on Tuesday.

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