How the Midterms Will Affect American Politics

Narration: The president’s party has lost ground in 36 of 39 midterms since the Civil War; what will happen this time?

Karlyn Bowman: The dynamic of this midterm definitely resembles midterms of the past.

Narration: The outlook of the House map does not look too desirable to the Republicans, but they still have a natural advantage to pull it off.

Kyle Kondik: So the median House district is 4 points to the right of the nation, which I think is a good way to illustrate this Republican advantage.

Narration: A number of Republicans are running on the negative effects of Democrats’ progressive policies. Will people relate to that?

Andrew Delamar: Almost every aspect of this state is poorly managed because of government.

A.J.: I’m a political science major, a former leftist — a former radical leftist — I’m a convert. Today I’m a proud conservative.

Narration: How will this midterm affect the president?

Karlyn Bowman: Well, the big question is whether or not – if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, whether they will move to impeach the president.

Title: How the Midterms Will Affect American Politics

Simone Gao: President Trump’s 2016 presidential election win was a surprise to many, especially those in the media. Now, with the midterms coming up, many are again anticipating that Democrats will win big. Public opinion and polling experts predict Republicans will lose the House of Representatives and many state governor races. But will we once again be surprised this November when the midterm results come in? There’s been growing discontent with the effects of progressive policies in deep blue states like California, and some say Republicans still have a fighting chance in the House. On the other hand, if Democrats do win a majority in the House, what will that mean for American politics, society, and the president? We’ll discuss these questions and more in this episode of Zooming In.

Part 1: Overall Situation

Narration: U.S. midterm elections are coming up on November 6. All seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the Senate seats will be contested. In addition, 36 states will elect their governors. Many states and local governments will also elect officers.

Narration: Midterm elections are often difficult for the incumbent parties. In the House, the president’s party has lost ground in 36 of 39 midterms since the Civil War, losing an average of 33 seats. Since World War II, they’ve lost an average of 26 seats.

Narration: Republicans currently hold 237 seats in the House of Representatives. Democrats hold 193 seats. It takes 218 seats to control the House.

Narration: The University of Virginia Center for Politics and the Ipsos poll show that, out of the 435 House seats, Democrats and Republicans are almost evenly matched, with 35 toss-ups.

Narration: At a National Press Club press conference, Kyle Kondik from The University of Virginia Center for Politics  said that Democrats will have a better chance to win the House because the president’s approval rating is low and the Democrats’ lead in the House generic ballot is where they want it. However, he also sees a scenario where Republicans can hold onto the House. He attributes that to a generic public lean to the Republicans.

Kyle Kondik: If you would line up all 435 House seats from Clinton’s best district to Trump’s best district, and you find the one that’s precisely in the middle, it is a district that Trump won by two points. Clinton won the national popular vote by two, and so the median House district is about four points to the right of the nation, which I think is a good way of sort of illustrating this Republican advantage.

Narration: But Tom Del Beccaro, author of “The Divided Era” argues that the Generic Congressional Ballot remains fluid, and Trump’s polling remains close to his all-time high. That indicates the outcome of the control of the House is in play and, if Republicans can “nationalize” the election by offering a game plan for 2019 that contrasts with the tax hikes and socialism offered by the Democrats, Republicans can still hold onto the House.

Narration: As to the Senate race, the Ipsos maps show the Democrats are at a disadvantage. They are defending 26 of the 35 seats being contested this year, including two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Additionally, almost all of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats are on the ballot this year. In fact, Democrats have one of the worst Senate maps in the history of popular Senate elections this year. They are defending 26 out of the 35 seats that are up.

Narration: The gubernatorial map is the mirror opposite of the Senate map. The Republicans are defending 26 out of the 36 governorships in this election season. Geoff from the University of Virginia indicated that this election could have an impact on the Republican Party as well.

Geoffrey Skelley: Now, on the governors’ side, Republicans are very much on the defensive. And a lot of the gubernatorial contests are going to take place in important states, a lot in the Midwest, that are very important when you think about the next redistricting cycle — Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio — these were all states where Republicans were able to really draw very, very sharp gerrymanders that favored their party. So if you’re thinking about the next redistricting cycle in those states, I think the governorships are a key part of that. In a lot of these states where Republicans are defending governorships, their incumbents aren’t running for reelection.

Simone Gao: I also discussed the prospects for this year’s midterm elections with Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow polling expert at the American Enterprise Institute. Here is what she has to say.

Karlyn Bowman: The dynamic of this midterm definitely resembles midterms of the past. The expectation is that the Republican Party will certainly lose seats this November. We don’t know what the number will be, but the ranges are very large, and much larger in many cases than the historical average. For example, some are suggesting that the Republicans could lose as many as 40 to 50 seats overall. I expect it will be lower than that, but I think it will probably certainly follow in the past historical pattern.

Simone Gao: So if that’s the case, what’s the likelihood that Democrats will take over the House?

Karlyn Bowman: Yes, the Democrats would then take over the House. They need to pick up 23 seats, and the expectation among most of the analysts at this point is that they will do that.

Simone Gao: How about the Senate?

Karlyn Bowman: The Senate is a different body, and most people think that the Republicans will maintain control of the U.S. Senate and may even possibly pick up a seat or two.

Simone Gao: According to RealClearPolitics, President Trump’s approval rating is 43 percent now. How will that impact the midterm? Will his endorsement help or hurt the candidates?

Karlyn Bowman: I think President Trump will endorse some candidates where he thinks he can make a difference, where he thinks he can make a positive impact. But I think we will not see him venturing into most House races this fall or even most Senate contests. He’s certainly a lightning rod. His support level is about 40 to 44 percent in most polls. That’s historically low at this particular time, and he’s such a lightning rod that I think that only in those districts where he could make a difference will he appear in the fall.

Narration: Coming up, Republican candidates are running on the negative effects of progressive policies.

Part 2: Midterms in California

Simone Gao: Although the midterm maps don’t look promising for Republicans, they still have a chance, and many constituents are hopeful for a red wave. Besides pushing for turnout, Republican candidates are focusing on the negative effects of Democrats’ progressive policies.

Narration: In Florida, the unabashed progressive Andrew Gillum unexpectedly won the Democratic primary, but his Republican opponent, House Representative Ron DeSantis, said that a socialist agenda will “monkey this up.” In California, Republican candidates are all running on the failure of the progressive policies. When asked why he thinks he has a chance in a deep blue state, John Cox, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, said this:

John Cox: Because the people of California are suffering under unaffordable lifestyles. The quality of life in this state is just not what it should be. They can’t afford gasoline. They can’t afford their house. They are going to schools that are 47th in the nation. They’re driving on roads that are full of potholes. They’re being told by the political class in Sacramento that they’re only going to have 50 gallons of water a day. That’s not livable. That’s not a quality of life. It’s not a quality of life to pay $3,000 for a 500-square-foot apartment. I’m sorry, driving two hours in traffic trying to get to a job that’s a long way away because you can’t find an apartment that you can afford. That’s California. And there’s a thin layer of people who are doing fine, like Gavin Newsom, but there’s a whole lot of other people that are really struggling. And I think people want a change. Help is on the way to those people.

Narration: At Mr. Cox’s fundraising event in late August, Republicans echoed his concerns. 29-year-old business owner Andrew Delamar said the dire situation in California is why he supports Republican John Cox.

Andrew Delamar: Almost every aspect of this state is poorly managed because of government. And the government’s answer for its inefficiencies and ineffectiveness is always more government, which never works. It’s like that old quote that the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the expanding needs of the bureaucracy. That’s where we’re at. I mean, we don’t have enough water because we haven’t built a reservoir since 1979, and our population has doubled since then. So our governor is fond of always blaming climate change or global warming, why we don’t have enough water. And the fact is that we’ve doubled the amount of people drinking our water and using our water, and we haven’t done anything to expand how we capture water or how we use it. And that has a huge impact on the Central Valley and on our economy, especially being mostly ag based. And our infrastructure is poor. I’ve driven – in the last year I’ve been in 15 other states, and we, by far and away, have the worst highways that I’ve driven. It’s terrible.

Henry Philany (ph): California is literally the land of milk and honey. As we know, there has been a lot of craziness going on, and it’s gotten pretty nuts out there, but we are believers in the Lord, and we believe the Bible, and we really believe that God has a plan for California. Just like he’s taking America back, he’s going to take California back. California — actually, America leads the world in so many areas, but then California leads America. So it really comes down to that we’ve got to get this thing turned around here, and I believe we’re doing it. And we’re here to support that. And we’re all in favor of cleaning out the barn, and you know what that means. There’s a lot of stuff in that barn that needs to go out.

Henry Philany (ph): I really believe that the wave is coming this way from the East Coast. And just the same way it was almost impossible for Trump to win the presidency, even the night before and the morning of the election, that the odds were all against him, I really believe this thing is going to turn around. And I believe the Republicans are going to take it back. I believe John Cox is going to win the governorship.

Narration: One member of the #WalkAway Movement was also present at John Cox’s event. When asked why he walked away from the Democratic Party, 29-year-old A.J. said he was misled.

A.J.: What changed my mind is one thing: when I actually sat down with conservatives. I always had pre-assumed judgements on conservatives that they were racist, that they were bigots, ignorant, that they didn’t care about the people, but rather about the wealthy. But just when I decided to have an open mind, to have an open dialogue with conservatives, it literally changed my mind. And I began looking into their policies. I began researching a lot, I began reading a lot, and ultimately I crossed over.

A.J.: Actually tens of thousands of people have crossed over. And the #WalkAway Movement, if you check it on Facebook, on social media, on YouTube, you would be surprised by the amount of people that are walking away from the left, and even foreign-born people that came into this country legally. For someone that came into this country legally and seeing how illegal aliens are being given all these handouts out of taxpayers’ money, reaping the benefits out of taxpayers’ money when legal immigrants go through a hard process, and they pay a ton of fees, and it’s literally a very difficult process. And, yet, illegal aliens get all the benefits, get all the support and all the help.

Narration: The #WalkAway Movement was started by New York hairdresser Brandon Straka, who published a confessional video in May 2018 that went viral.

Narration: Some 5 million people on Facebook and YouTube have watched the video. In an Epoch Times interview, Mr. Straka said he receives over 1000 testimonial letters, videos, and emails a day.

Narration: There is no official number of how many people have joined the #WalkAway Movement. Interestingly, there hasn’t been an equivalent movement from the opposite side.

Narration: Coming up, what impact will the midterms have?

Part 3: Midterm Predictions

Narration: If Democrats regain control of the House, many expect they will move forward with impeachment proceedings. Other results of a Democratic House majority could include subpoenas, more investigations, and a further divided government, resulting in increased difficulties passing legislation.

Simone Gao: How will the governors’ races, along with the House and Senate races, impact the Trump administration and the American politics in general? Here’s Karlyn Bowman again.

Simone Gao: You said the governors’ races will be especially interesting to watch. Can you elaborate on that?

Karlyn Bowman: I think Republicans are going to lose a significant number of governorships this fall. That’s very important because our governors tend to be more outward looking. They tend to work a lot on trade within their states overall. They tend to work a lot on other issues. And they answer to the voters fairly often in the United States, and so those races are going to be particularly important. But overall, I expect Democrats to do well in the House of Representatives and, unfortunately not, from their point of view, to take back the U.S. Senate.

Simone Gao: So if the map is like this and the Democrats take the House and the Republicans hold the Senate and a lot of the governorships will go to Democrats, how will this new map affect President Trump?

Karlyn Bowman: Well, the big question is whether or not – if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, whether they will move to impeach the president. Many Democrats around the country think that that should be the case, that they should move to impeach Trump. But many others are very wary about that, so you don’t hear a lot of discussion on the campaign trail about impeachment. But once the election is over, and if the Democrats regain control, there will not only be just enormous pressure on the speaker, if it’s Nancy Pelosi or someone else, to move ahead on impeachment and also to move ahead on a series of investigations that could embarrass the president.

Simone Gao: Is there any chance that the Republicans will still hold the House?

Karlyn Bowman: There is certainly a chance that the Republicans will hold the House. And I confess I’m impressed by some of the people who watch individual races who are suggesting that this is not going to be a Democratic sweep. They’re much more careful about what they think will happen. And because most of us in Washington don’t analyze individual races, a few of us do, but most of us do not. And we’re also not on the ground, so it’s quite possible that we’re missing something big in the country, and the Republicans could continue to hold the House of Representatives.

Simone Gao: Candidates only have nine weeks before the midterms to convince voters that they’re the right person for the job. This year’s results could have an even bigger impact than normal for the country and the presidency. Stay tuned. Zooming In will bring you unique perspectives on current affairs that matter to today’s world. Thanks for watching. I am Simone Gao. See you next week.

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