A day ago, Donald Trump tweeted his preference to wait on immigration legislation until “after the red wave.” While the president’s assumption that November’s midterm election will be a Democrat house-cleaning and expansion of the GOP’s majority hold on both the House of Representatives and the Senate, he’s just about as likely to be right as he is to be wrong. It’s also possible that the midterms will be a relative wash, leaving only a slight majority for one party, as is the current congressional status quo.
Trump’s prognosticated “red wave,” is disputed by just about every poll coming out, according to FiveThirtyEight, whose congressional generic ballot polls show an incoming sea of blue, rather than red. Democrats may be tempted to start getting complacent with such comforting figures, but as experienced in 2016, polls can be wrong, and the word “unprecedented” isn’t synonymous with “impossible.”
FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton significantly higher odds against Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and other polling agencies had Clinton as a 99 percent lock for winning the presidency. So how did Trump win?
When it comes to polling, an effect known as the “shy Trump voter” is a concept many have asserted as what threw polls so askew in 2016. The hypothesis goes something to the tune of many Trump supporters refusing to openly discuss their support because they fear being perceived as racists, sexists, and as being xenophobic. Also, some of them just don’t like answering polls.
However, shy Trump voters are a fictional anomaly, the American Association for Public Opinion Research has concluded they essentially aren’t real in any quantifiable sense. While there may be a small number of Trump voters who aren’t extremely forthright about their support of the nationalist president, they’re not prevalent enough to skew polls to such a degree. According to the AAPOR, it was James Comey’s last-minute letter to congress about Hillary’s email investigation, which tipped the scales in favor of Trump.
What does that mean for the upcoming midterm election? Well first, shy Trump voters are off the table now. While it was a potential Democrat spoiler-point leading up to November, 2016, the GOP’s sluggish-but-eventual acceptance of Donald Trump as a legitimate politician has made support of the president more acceptable than it was prior to the 2016 Republican National Convention. Furthermore, as previously stated, the idea of shy Trump voters never had any real sway over the election anyway. So that’s out.
Also, the midterms aren’t as high profile as a presidential election, so there’s less coverage, and therefore, less potential controversy reported to potentially sway voters. For every national headline-grabbing senator like Roy Moore being accused by multiple victims of having sex with underage girls, while still receiving presidential support, there are exponentially more senators who fly completely under the national radar, never seeing such controversy, regardless of what their past is.
Another variable is regretful liberals, who maybe held out on voting for Hillary Clinton, either because they preferred Senator Bernie Sanders, or because they were upset about Hillary’s perceived scandals. Either way, the country will have to wait and see how those voters act at the polls in November, after having nearly two years of a Trump presidency to potentially change their perspective.
As always, it all comes down to who shows up to vote. If Democrats come out and vote, they’ll win in a landslide. If they act in accordance with history, the red wave will likely be a reality.
Key states in this election for the Senate, according to Real Clear Politics, include Florida, whose last two polls show Democratic candidate Bill Nelson losing to Republican Rick Scott by a small gap of about three or four points, Tennessee, whose Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen leads by a reported five points, though the last time a poll was conducted was April of this year, suggesting this may not be currently accurate. Oddly enough, solid red state West Virginia has a leading Democratic candidate, though according to Politico, Joe Manchin, who leads by three points in the coal-mine-heavy state, apparently supports Trump heavily.
Other tossup states include Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota. A Senate map can be found on the Real Clear Politics website, which provides a visual understanding of the Senate race. They also provide a map for the U.S. House Of Representatives midterm election race.
It’s important to note that these poll numbers represent, at best, yesterday’s voting figures. As election time draws near, more information will come out, more polls will be conducted, more voters will begin participating, and more people will be talking. Expect these poll numbers to swing dramatically back and forth.
Trump’s current aggregate approval ratings show far less than half of Americans approve of the job the president is doing, standing at 42.4 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. Historically that spells bad fortune for a midterm election, but he’s currently on the upswing in terms of approval, according to Rasmussen Reports, although that pollster reportedly has a slight bias toward conservative candidates, due to polling practices.
If Democrats win the majority of either the House of Representatives, The Senate, or both, it will significantly cripple Trump’s next two years as president and act as an omen for his 2020 chances of re-election. Conversely, if Republicans maintain both majorities, or pull off a supermajority, it would give Trump and the Republican Party, the power to easily implement the most controversial of legislation, bypassing much Democrat opposition. Furthermore, it would show the first palpable evidence of Trump’s final White House departure, occurring not in 2020, but in 2024.