US midterm elections result was a win for Democrats, but not a rejection of Donald Trump


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November 08, 2018 09:30:52

Day one after the midterm elections and Donald Trump holds a wide-ranging and at times aggressive press conference, gets into a shouting match with a reporter and then sacks the Attorney-General.

Welcome to the next two years, folks.

Democrats did well at the midterms. They took the House, opening the way for a check and balance on a volatile President.

In an environment where he almost entirely controls the narrative, this was no mean feat.

However, did Americans reject Donald Trump? No.

If Democrats want to win the 2020 election they’re going to have to stop expecting Americans to suddenly repudiate him.

After two years of handwringing, enough already.

Of course the President would spin the result as a win, however in this case it’s not a complete fudge.

Over the last 21 elections the party of the incumbent President has lost an average of 30 seats at midterm elections. People like to use them to send a message halfway through a term, to fire a warning shot before the next Presidential poll.

There have been swings of 24 seats or more in half of the midterm elections since 1994.

Remember when Republicans took control of the house when they flipped a whopping 64 seats in 2010 during the Obama years? Usually, you’d expect the opposition party to flip about four Senate seats as well.

So, with a projected net seat change of 27 in the House and Republicans taking seats in the Senate, the Democrats are on track for a solid but not spectacular result.

And for those who expected a tsunami of Americans to reject Mr Trump’s hard-line immigration stance, his bulldog approach to world affairs and trade, his sometimes xenophobic, racist, sexist and contradictory rhetoric, his attacks on the press, his erratic tweeting, his belligerence, out of some sort of epiphany of conscience: it’s time to wake up and realise that’s not going to happen.

Yes, there was pushback from women, moderates, young people and wealthy suburban folks, in several house seats that he just grasped in 2016.

But the country remains horribly split as his deeper red and rural support consolidates.

As he said in his wide-ranging (and at times bizarre) press conference after the result, “I think they like me,” and by that he means that many of those who voted Republican endorse his policies, rhetoric and behaviour.

And much as he’s said of late that he could have been softer, that he would like to be softer, he knows that his supporters like him because he’s not. So don’t expect that to change any time soon.

There was this exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta at the above press conference which kind of proves my point.

The President says he would “like to see bipartisanship” and unity and that he’s willing to work with Democrats, however, if they go for him like we expect them to, all bets will be off.

All of this poses a complex quandary for Democrats, who are going to want to use their newfound power to kickstart investigations into the administration, seek the President’s tax returns, protect special counsel Bob Mueller and kick around the idea of impeachment, but in doing so may well shoot themselves in the foot politically.

Republicans will hate them, vitriol will increase and if they are seen to be entirely frustrators rather than legislators in two years’ time, they’re going nowhere fast.

Oh, just on Mr Mueller by the way, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions has been sacked which will compound long-held concern that the President will attempt to shut down the probe.

Uh huh. I know.

In a letter to the President, Mr Sessions said “at your request I am submitting my resignation …”

This is major, do not look away.

Mr Sessions has been in the President’s sights since he recused himself from the Russia probe due to dealings that were exposed with the Russian ambassador.

So there’s that!

It goes to the general midterms fallout as Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell re-upped the term “presidential harassment”, laying the groundwork to turn the Democrats into the villains for what may be perfectly legitimate investigations but will infuriate Mr Trump’s supporters, who say Democrats have been trying to bring him undone since the moment he took office — if not before.

“The whole issue of presidential harassment is interesting,” Mr McConnell said, by way of warning.

“I remember when we tried it in the late 90s — we impeached President Clinton. His numbers went up and ours went down,” and GOP underperformed in 1998.

Of course one of the key areas of enquiry will be past and present Russian meddling in US democracy.

Democratic leaders say one of their other top responsibilities is to oversee how the Trump administration has managed federal agencies and changed regulations.

There are reports the Democrats on the House Ways and Means committee are planning to formally request the President’s tax returns.

Oh and they plan to bring in Mr Mueller for televised hearings if Mr Trump fires him.

Popcorn please!

So, the more things change the more they stay the same, right?

Key question: what happens to Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein?

And also, what of this apparent quote from Mr Sessions’s chief of staff Mark Whittaker, who is taking over his job in an acting capacity:

Hmm.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump says he gives House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “a lot of credit” for Democrats’ success. “Hopefully we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people.”

Seems unlikely, based on current form.

We’ll see.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

world-politics,

elections,

us-elections,

united-states





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