10 Thoughts on the 2018 Midterm Elections

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The results are in from the 2018 midterm elections and oddly enough, both sides are claiming victory. Democrats were thrilled to retake control of the House of Representatives. Republicans were happy they made that race closer than expected, while also expanding their control over the Senate. Here’s a sampling of what some pundits and politicians are saying in the aftermath, with a focus on what these results mean for the next two years, along with possible implications for the 2020 presidential election.

The Democrats took control of the House, the Republicans expanded their hold on the Senate, and both sides are claiming victory in the 2018 midterm elections. © William Beem

10. “The election also revealed serious weaknesses in the Republican coalition, especially in the suburbs. In the three presidential elections Republicans have won in this century, 364 million votes were cast. A switch of 105,000 votes, distributed in the right times and places, would have nullified all of them. (That’s 0.02 percent of the total.) Trump’s own victory, impressive as it was in some respects, depended crucially on a weak opponent.”

National Review editorial


9. “[T]he number of Democrats from red districts will create a governing challenge for Democrats. The progressive base and donor community have very different expectations of what a Democratic House will do than many voters who are casting ballots for Democratic candidates. … Many activists want to impeach Trump, but party leaders will want to protect their new members from polarizing votes. Instead, they’re looking to find some areas of common ground with the administration. This will lead to tension because some liberals will be alarmed that giving Trump any legislative victories improves his odds of reelection.”

Washington Post


8. “The Republican Party defied history in a powerful and commanding fashion in the midterm elections Tuesday by expanding its Senate majority and stopping highly touted, celebrity-backed Democratic nominees in their tracks. The reason for Republican success is undeniable: President Trump proved to be our closer and our game-changer, making a quantifiable difference in key races across the country. … As several analysts have noted, the blue wave crashed Tuesday. It crashed into a Republican Party more unified than ever before, thanks to President Trump.”

— Kayleigh McEnany, in a commentary on FoxNews.com.


7. “Health care was on the ballot, and health care won. The biggest winner yesterday was health care for the American people, for our seniors, and for American families.”

— House of Representatives minority speaker Nancy Pelosi, downplaying the notion that the midterms were a referendum on President Trump.


6. “I plan to shine a light on waste, fraud, and abuse in the Trump Administration. I want to probe senior Administration officials across the government who have abused their positions of power and wasted taxpayer money, as well as President Trump’s decisions to act in his own financial self-interest rather than the best interests of the American people.”

— Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, in a statement.


5. “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

— President Donald Trump, in one of a series of tweets he sent the morning after the election.


4. “If Donald Trump inaugurated a new era of conflict in American politics, Tuesday’s midterm elections were just another skirmish, not a turning point in the war. Republicans lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than Democrats lost in 1994 or 2010, when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were in their first terms as president. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama both went on to win re-election two years after those midterm routs.”

— Daniel McCarthy, the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Quarterly, in a New York Times commentary.


3. “The midterms show that Trump is deeply vulnerable. He knows how to mobilize the base but not how to appeal to moderate Americans. And so the Republican Party has, under his leadership, been trounced by leaderless Democrats with a muddled message. So Democrats run two big dangers in 2020: They won’t win if they embrace a politician who is far outside the American mainstream. But nor will they win if they run a gray candidate who does not inspire hope or confidence. Finding a candidate who avoids both of these pitfalls may be difficult — but, as Democratic victories all across the country have shown on Tuesday, it is far from impossible.”

— Slate.com writer Yascha Mounk


2. “If they want to impeach President Trump, I’d give them some advice. Been there, done that with Clinton, didn’t work out for us. I would think twice about it. It will blow up in their face. Now, infrastructure, there’s a natural fit for both parties to build out the infrastructure of this country. DACA for the wall, there’s actually something you can do on immigration. Maybe prison and sentence reform and maybe some other things.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on Fox News, noting areas of common interest the Democratic-controlled House might be able to work on with President Trump and Republicans.


1. “[I]n a year Democrats had a record-breaking fundraising haul, a heightened level of voter enthusiasm, a strong candidate field and were running against the party of a deeply unpopular president, it’s fair to ask: Why wasn’t the so-called blue wave bigger?”

Vox writer Tara Golshan, citing reasons such as GOP gerrymandering of House districts and voter suppression as two reasons Democrats had a tough time claiming more ground in the House.

U.S. Capitol photo credit: © William Beem


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