The midterm election is less than three months away. House races are particularly crucial since Democrats have little chance to take the Senate.
Right now I wonder if either side wants to win. The races that will make a difference are not being held in Midtown Manhattan or rural Nebraska. The party that wins is the one that can expand beyond their base.
The best issue the Republicans have is a strong economy. They were basking in the glow of a strong second quarter. President Trump changed the subject by threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t appropriate money to build his wall. Immigration is a very sensitive topic for Republicans. They can discuss border security. The wall is Trump’s pet project and is not based on experts’ consensus on the best way to secure the border. It is a symbol of intolerance to many. He is throwing a temper tantrum and says his wall is more important than Republicans controlling Congress.
Meanwhile, the extreme left is getting lots of attention. There is a lot of talk about Socialism. A young woman is running around the country saying one stupid thing after another. We aren’t hearing Democrats standing up and defending their more traditional views.
This election may turn on how badly Trump hurts Republicans or socialists hurt the Democrats.
I believe we can categorize all political discourse into one of four levels:
1. “I disagree but we are still friends”
2. “You’re a bad person”
3. “You’re evil”
4. “I want you dead”
We don’t see a lot of level one in Washington anymore. Ted Kennedy had friends on both sides of the aisle. President Reagan and Tip O’Neill would get together for a drink. If someone did that today, they would be attacked as a sellout.
Levels two and three are popular these days. That was almost the entire focus of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we need to judge people on the content of their character not the color of their politics. The vast majority of people in public life are good people doing what they believe is in the best interests of the country.
We are now starting to see the fourth level. Last year Steve Scalice was shot and other Republicans had their lives threatened in a politically motivated shooting. I can’t recall such a shooting since attempts were made to assassinate President Ford.
Talking about killing President Trump is considered good clean fun whether it’s Madonna speaking about blowing up the White House or Kathy Griffin’s bloody mask. Death threats on members of Congress have risen sharply. They are predominately from the left.
Political violence is on the rise. Maxine Waters told people to harass members of the Trump administration. She knew, or should have known, that such confrontations could easily turn violent.
We need to get things under control. Every public official should denounce violence, no matter the source. Anyone engaging in violence or making a death treat should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Earlier this week, President Trump had another tweet tantrum. He suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions end the Mueller investigation. If he did so, it would create such an uproar that collusion with Russia would be a hot topic in the 2020 election.
It is now time for the investigation to either come up with something substantial or end. It was formed to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. It was clear from the beginning that this was a political witch hunt. It was staffed almost entirely by partisan Democrats including the infamous Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. They haven’t found a scintilla of evidence except for the Steele dossier, a document created as part of the Clinton campaign.
It has gone far afield to justify its existence. There have been a number of charges, none of them related to Russian collusion. Their showpiece is the Paul Manafort trial. They are desperate for a conviction. Part of their strategy was to prejudice the jury by showing evidence of his lavish lifestyle. Fortunately, the judge wouldn’t allow it.
Rather than talking about shutting it down, President Trump would be better served if he ignored it and let it slowly sink into obscurity.
I took a look at the Senate awhile back. Now I will examine the House races.
There are fifty-three seats that the experts consider to be close. Republicans hold forty-five and Democrats hold seven (one is a new district). To take the House, the odds have to be in favor of the Democrats. In most cases incumbents will be running for reelection. That certainly puts the odds on the Republican side.
Next, we need to look at issues that could swing the election. Many Democrats talk about a “blue wave” because of President Trump’s unpopularity. Most people made up their mind about him in 2016 so that shouldn’t be a factor. Economic issues definitely favor the GOP. Immigration will hurt them in some places and help them in others. I see Democrats’ anger and leftward movement hurting them.
So, there you have it. Republicans have the odds and the issues. I would expect them to hang on to the House if the election were held today. We still have over three months to go and a lot can happen.
President Trump and his fellow Republicans are jubilant over the 4.1% growth in GDP last quarter. It is certainly good news but I suggest they hold the Champaign. These numbers bounce around quite a bit and are subject to revision. President Obama had several quarters that were even higher. It will take time to see what is really happening with the economy.
Any president would take credit for a good quarter. Last quarter saw an anemic 2.2% growth. Was he responsible for that too?
I do think we are in a period of higher growth. Certainly, the tax cut and regulatory reform will have some impact. His trade war will help some industries and hurt others. The biggest factor is a renewed sense of optimism. He can certainly take some credit for it. We no longer have an administration that demonizes business, emphasizes social issues over economic issues and doesn’t speak for the average family just trying to get by.
Let’s see where things are in a year and then pop the cork.
As a centrist, I often attack one side or another. Today I get to go after both sides.
President Trump’s diplomatic style leaves a lot to be desired. He publicly attacks some of our closest friends and is deferential to Putin. We need to understand that Russia is not our friend. Trying to tamper with our elections is sufficient proof of that. Our democracy and the freedom and prosperity it gives us should be cherished. We all should be outraged over what Russia did. To say it didn’t happen is inexcusable. I don’t believe it was a slip of the tongue. President Obama should also be criticized. He knew what they were doing yet said or did nothing until after the election.
The reaction by the Left and their allies in the media has been absolutely ridiculous. A Google search on “Trump treason” turned up 17.5 million results. The Constitution says that treason “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort”. Clearly his actions don’t even begin to reach that level.
The Left is so full of hate that they seemed to have lost the ability to think rationally. If you don’t like someone in office, you have two choices: overthrow the government or get someone else elected. The second choice is definitely more practical. Condemning Trump won’t get them any votes. Everyone has already decided on him pro or con. Neither will moving far to the left.
There are many fine men and women in government who are working hard for a better America. Unfortunately, they are in the minority. Both parties are doing us a disservice.
Today I will take a look at the ten seats the Democrats are defending from states in which President Trump won.
They can be confident about Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Two-term senators from Montana and Ohio are likely to keep their seats. Things get more complicated with the other five seats.
Florida is a battle of heavyweights. Incumbent Bill Nelson is seeking a fourth term. Rick Scott, the current governor, is challenging him. Both candidates have good approval ratings. It should be a very close election. Hopefully we won’t hear more about hanging chad.
In Indiana, Joe Donnelly is running for a second term. He is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. Mike Braun, a businessman and a former state legislator is challenging him.
Missouri hasn’t held their primary yet. Both parties have a number of candidates. Incumbent Claire McCaskill should easily get the nomination. She is a true centrist who votes with the Republicans about as often as she votes with the Democrats. Her likely opponent is Josh Hawley, Missouri’s Attorney General.
In North Dakota incumbent Heidi Heitkamp is running for a second term. She is also a moderate. She is running against Kevin Cramer, a Donald Trump conservative.
Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another moderate, is seeking another term. He is very popular and had an overwhelming victory in 2012. His opponent is Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
All five races are considered to be to tossups so I won’t try to make any state by state predictions. The incumbents have the advantage of being well-known and generally well liked. Many people vote for the person rather than the party in statewide elections. They also have some serious disadvantages. Moderates are becoming an endangered species. They can find themselves unacceptable to both parties. It looks like the Democrats don’t have an effective strategy once again.
My best guess is that Republicans will get three more seats. That would give them a 52-48 advantage. Barring something unexpected, Democrats have a very small chance to reclaim the Senate. It is possible that Republicans could pick up 3-5 seats.
The midterm elections are less than four months away. Republicans currently have a 51-49 majority so Democrats need to pick up two seats. Today I will look at where they might find them.
They have an enormous task in front of them. Only nine of the thirty-three seats are currently held by Republicans. They need to defend ten seats in states Donald Trump won while the GOP has just one seat in a state Hillary Clinton won.
That state is Nevada. Dean Heller is seeking a second term. He is a solid conservative who was sharply criticized Donald Trump in 2016. President Trump said he would support a challenger unless Heller was more supportive. They made up and Trump endorsed him. Challenging him is Jacky Rosen. Her first foray into politics was a successful run for the House in 2016.
Republican Jeff Flake announced his retirement. Arizona hasn’t held their primary yet. The likely GOP winner is Martha McSally. She has served two terms in the House and has the distinction of being the first woman to command an Air Force fighter squadron. Running against her are former sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kelly Ward, right-wing nut job. She urged John McCain to resign due to his illness and offered herself up as a replacement. Kyrsten Sinema, a three term member of the House.
Bob Corker of Tennessee announced his retirement. Tennessee has also not held their primary election but neither frontrunner has a serious challenge. Marsha Blackburn, a long time House member, will try to keep the seat. Her challenger is former Governor Phil Bredesen.
The Nevada race is considered to be a tossup. Heller barely won last time. Nevada is growing in population, primary in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. That favors Democrats so I will give them a slight edge.
Martha McSally is a dream candidate. However, she is being pounded by her primary opponents and it is unlikely they will unite behind her. I think we can probably add Arizona to the list of states in which the Far Right handed over to the Democrats.
Tennessee is redder than the other two states. Bredesen is 74 and hasn’t been in an election since 2006. Blackburn should keep the seat for the Republicans.
If my predictions comes true, the Democrats will get their two seats. However, they have a Herculean task to hang on to their current seats.
President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court. It looks like a good pick. His record shows him to be a constitutionalist not an activist. He clerked under the departing Anthony Kennedy and is close to the Bush family. He has received criticism from hard-core conservatives, further evidence he isn’t one of them.
Democrats have gone absolutely berserk over his nomination. This will put the conservatives in a majority in the court. The idea that this means that far right social policies will become the law of the land is ridiculous. Roe v. Wade will not be overturned. The problem is that they believe their own propaganda. Senator Dick Durbin even suggested that Democrats in tight races be willing to give up their seats by voting against Kavanaugh. Even if this strategy works, Republicans could easily confirm someone else.
The Republicans currently have a 51 to 49 advantage in the Senate. It is doubtful that John McCain will be well enough to vote. I think all of the other Republicans will vote for Kavanaugh along with a few Democrats.