The red and blue of the US mid-terms

The US mid-terms: a victory for Trump?

Many on the right felt relief at the outcome of the US mid-terms, where the message was that the incumbent President predictably loses support.  The House loss was said to be modest and the Democrats actually lost ground in the Senate.

The inevitability of lost congressional mid-term support is overstated – one need go back only to 2002 to find the Republicans under President Bush gaining ground.  Here are the mid-term results since 1950.

Comparable or worse results to those of Trump (8/9) were Truman 1950; Eisenhower 1958; Johnson 1968; Ford 1974; Reagan 1982; Clinton 1994; Bush 2006; Obama 2010 and arguably Obama 2014.

Better results (8) were recorded by Eisenhower 1954; Kennedy 1962; Nixon 1970; Carter 1978; Reagan 1986; Bush 1990; Clinton 1998; and Bush 2002.

More to the point, few of those recording better outcomes had the enormous energy of the Trump campaign, nor did they have a comparable track record of economic rescue.

The US election as a pointer to the future

Kevin Drum at the left wing Mother Jones offered this appraisal

“Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, a level so low we’ve reached it only once before in my entire lifetime. GDP is growing 3 percent per year. Wages are rising nicely. Inflation is tooling along at a very modest 2 percent. Manufacturers’ shipments are healthy. Consumer spending is strong and household debt is low. Aside from the dotcom boom, consumer confidence is at a 40-year high.

“And yet, Republicans are going to lose three dozen seats in the House and cede control to the Democrats. Has any party ever done so badly in the middle of such strong economic performance?”

Compared to earlier mid-terms Trump had other advantages.  Not least of these were the positive international projection of US influence (NATO, N. Korea, Iran, Jerusalem), the populist trade policies and restoring the social fabric against PCers.

Added to these factors is the radical leftwards shift of the Democratic Party.  In earlier eras though the Democrats always favoured more welfare spending than the Republicans, this was normally restrained.  Indeed, Roosevelt in 1932, foreshadowing our very own Kevin Rudd’s 2007 campaign on the policy “this reckless spending must end”, attacked his opponent (President Hoover), for heading “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in our history”.

Most Democrat leaders prior to Obama also needed to placate a solid core of the fiscal conservatives, the Blue Dogs.  However, this faction has now virtually disappeared.  New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was arguably its last member and she has shifted to the left, possibly to position herself as a 2020 presidential candidate.  The left wing leadership is joined by other future leaders who are usually even more extreme, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “Beto” O’Rourke.

Traditionally, ceding the middle ground as the Democrats have, would be considered electoral suicide.  And yet the Democrats won the mid-terms in terms of seats and the popular vote 52-48.  It would seem that Trump not only brought out his own base but also that of his opponents – 30 million more people voted – a 25 per cent increase compared to the previous mid-terms.

The Left may be right in seeing the Trump 2016 victory as an aberration.  Trump found a narrow path to victory with a strategic approach that saw him elected by a minority of voters and facing what turned out to be a weak opponent.  The ground was highly infertile – Gallup reports that 51 per cent of young people are positive about socialism and only 45 per cent have positive views about capitalism.

Many of the Trump Democrats may stay with the Republicans but the electoral dynamics are not favourable.  The past century has seen a remarkable rise in redistribution of income by governments through taxation and expenditure and 45 per cent of households pay no income tax (though many of these would be retirees).  Although confirmatory data is not without its detractors, since the left side of politics is more responsive to demands for income support, they would obtain electoral support in return.  One obvious constituency is the near 40 million families receiving food stamps, which has however declined by 3.6 million under the prosperity of the first two Trump years.

Trump’s approval is largely skewed to the declining voter segments, whites and non-graduates.  It is under 20 per cent for non-whites.  Asians are less skewed towards the Democrats but still, like Hispanics overwhelmingly Democrat in voting behaviour.

The only major category that is both growing and is a supporter of Trump is that comprising older people but that favourability may not hold as those under 50 enter the cohort.

Added to the traditional constituency of the left has been the embrace of interventionist policies by young professionals.  The horror of Google executives and staff to the 2016 Trump election was recorded and was evident in other elites in the IT industry. Young white women university graduates seem to be at the heart of the “resistance” and the voting pattern of women is distinctly more inclined to the Democrats compared to white male graduates.  That may in part be explained by the different areas of study that males and females, at least traditionally, choose.

The radicalisation of college graduates is a trend that has been in place for decades now.  It means that the Democrats have combined two wings where the demographics are favourable: the relatively less well-off and the highly educated.

Joel Kotkin sees some promising signs that this coalition may collapse as the more traditional hard left starts to attack the “Google liberals”, who financed the “resistance”, as high-income parasites.  The same tensions could become evident in Australia as the cultural left’s exposition of climate change and relaxed immigration restraints collides with the energy costs this brings and the strains on infrastructure.   But substantiation of this is fragile – in California which Kotkin examines, the Democrats still made gains in 2018 and the Senate race was between two Democrats each talking up their leftist credentials.

The genius and energy Trump exhibits are likely to see his re-election in 2020 but the forces remain ranged against a return to a period when politics was background noise.

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23 Responses to The red and blue of the US mid-terms

  1. John Comnenus

    The only thing I think the last two US elections point to is that the Democrats are unwilling to accept defeat and will continue to attack and harass their political opponents and try to steal elections. And, what’s worse, no one seems able or willing to stop them. If this continues America will slide into armed anarchy and civil war.

  2. Tim Neilson

    More to the point, few of those recording better outcomes had to face the enormous energy of the anti-Trump campaign,

    FIFY

  3. I kind of remember that every time the Liberals have been in office and produced excellent economic results, they get ousted to give Labor an opportunity to do what they do best. I’ve always wondered why.

  4. cohenite

    It only appears to be college educated women; and white women at that. The real issue is the non-white vote. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians have done the republicans in the house. Economically conditions have never been better for these groups so why are they voting for demorats when all they have to offer is hatred of Trump and free stuff.

  5. Mark M

    When Black Music Was Conservative
    Songs from the classic soul era celebrated marriage and upward mobility.

    “A few decades ago, black popular music—what’s come to be known as “classic soul”—was notable for featuring lyrics that celebrated marriage and downplayed obstacles to black progress.
    Its lyrics championed the sort of family life that lays the groundwork for upward mobility and the optimism associated with a period of social breakthroughs and economic improvement.”

    https://www.city-journal.org/html/when-black-music-was-conservative-13745.html

    wilson pickett: 99 & a half wont do

  6. pete m

    I think voters separated out local issues and how their congressman voted more than just simple red / blue issues.

    EG governor vote in Alabama versus Senate vote – polar opposites.

    Also, the Rep congress has been useless and often incumbents lose when their popularity is low – nothing to do with pres.

    Positives for Trump is he now has less Rinos, more crazy Dems and if he can show some working things out with them then augurs well for 2020.

    Key factor for him now is building the wall, dealing with immigration and no major terrorist events.

  7. Death Giraffe

    This is a good analysis.
    I think people are going to be surprised at how quickly it goes from here.
    Turns out letting marxists take full control of every humanities faculty in the country isn’t harmless after all.
    The actual voting results are tracking changes that happened years prior in schools and universities.
    The time to fix it was ten or twenty years ago.
    I think a great many people assume modern liberal democracies are more durable than is actually the case.
    But the countries you grew up in are already gone.
    The assumptions you could make are no longer valid.
    It will blow you away how quickly you find yourself in a country of informers where the police can disappear you for thought crime.
    I don’t think Trump gets a second term.

  8. bollux

    If Trump doesn’t sort out the voting irregularities, he won’t and can’t win. The Democrats are still voting a week later.

  9. Dr Fred Lenin

    The decromats should be carefull associating with the communist fascist left ,look what happened to the soft cock elite socialists in Russia ,when the bolshevik fascists usurped power ,they ended up shot in Lubyanka or dying in a gulag . Thats the trouble with idealist narxists the power hungry fascists dont give a stuff about them and their ideas . What will happen to the decromats and alp/gangrenes when the money runs out ? Will y]they start looting super and their erstwhile allies, soros and turnbull ? just imagine the screams from them and al gore the hollywood left and mick moore when their mates steal all their money . Still like all good progressives they have the money in another country.

  10. Death Giraffe

    Look at the chart and compare college women to non- college men.
    There is the story.
    It is almost purely the results of indoctrination.
    That is the fruits of the long march through the institutions.
    You cannot repair that in one lifetime. That is tens of millions of people pumped into the system with a worldview completely incompatable with freedom.

  11. Rococo Liberal

    Young people want things to be different. They aren’t really sure about what that difference should be. But they need the drama of change. Socialsim appeals to them because it defies the realities of life.
    This is the populism of the left. Lots of free stuff and bossing everybody about.

  12. zyconoclast

    The Republic is already lost. It is only a matter of the time.

    The demographics of destruction will not be reversed.

    Make America Mexico Again is the bleak future.

  13. Ellen of Tasmania

    I think a great many people assume modern liberal democracies are more durable than is actually the case.

    Yes – we are always just one step away from barbarism and totalitarianism and we kid ourselves if we think anything else.

    This has really humbled me. I used to wonder how the Russians or Germans were so gullible as to believe the propaganda they were bombarded with. Well, here we are. We can search out other media, other analysis on the internet, but they couldn’t. And all the Monties of the world just say, “You can’t believe that, that’s just Shapiro/Infowars/Fill-In-The-Blank”.

    How do any of us sort out truth from fiction amongst all the competing voices?

    “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
    (1 Corinthians 14:8)

  14. Myrddin Seren

    Young white women university graduates seem to be at the heart of the “resistance” and the voting pattern of women is distinctly more inclined to the Democrats compared to white male graduates.

    To be clear, I don’t think we are just talking about straight-out-of-college wymmen, still flushed with revolutionary spirit and student debt.

    From the Midterms forum:

    Trump was toxic in suburbs.

    Saw an echo of the latter point elsewhere:

    How the Suburbs Will Swing the Midterm Election

    The suburban districts where Republicans are endangered are also richer and better-educated than the suburban areas where Republicans are safe.

    And gender factors in, too. “It’s usually the suburban, college-educated white women in those districts that are putting them in play,” said Leah Askarinam, an analyst with Inside Elections.

    On the issues, she said, many of these voters might be moderate Republicans, but “they cannot tolerate the Republican Party under President Trump: the tweets, the chaos, the language.”

    But a trend of upper-middleclass, college-educated, partnered ( for the time being ) suburban women of a mostly pale complexion voting against the GoP because the tone of the POTUS is ‘icky’ is more worrisome than California turning in to Hispanofornia.

    The colleges are ever-more filling with exactly these women, who may well be expected to vote this way in larger numbers in future.

    Oh how we laughed when Team Obama ran the Julia Campaign in 2012.

    In a column amusingly titled “Who the Hell Is ‘Julia’ and Why Am I Paying for Her Whole Life?” David Harsanyi raises an obvious objection to the story: “What we are left with is a celebration of . . . how a woman can live her entire life by leaning on government intervention, dependency and other people’s money rather than her own initiative or hard work.

    A husband or partner to help pay the mortgage on the suburban ranchero may come or may go – but Big Government is ALWAYS there.

    If for no other insight – seems Team Obama was ahead of the curve on this one.

  15. Critical Mass

    When will conservatives wake up and realize that any analysis of these mid-term elections is moot and invalid in that it is based on inaccurate data? The extent of voter fraud in this election was manifest and blatant, which in itself is an indication of the scale of corruption of electoral integrity.

    bollux is the only commenter on this article to have noted this:
    If Trump doesn’t sort out the voting irregularities, he won’t and can’t win. The Democrats are still voting a week later.

    It’s kinda like the way the global warming scientists have based their predictions on temperatures which been measured by thermometers which have not been calibrated or checked for reliability and consistency, then subjected to algorithms which fudge the data to achieve the desired results.

    Bogus metrics + bogus analysis of data + false predicates = bogus conclusions.

  16. Ubique

    President Trump has done amazingly well in the face of a vehemently hostile media, not just in the US, but across the world.
    A friend brought me back a MAGA t-shirt from the US. The hostile reactions to it on a seaside walk from North Fremantle to Cottesloe on the weekend were something I’ve never experienced in my life until now.

  17. If you have been following Q, you will understand the plan and that it has been followed faultlessly.
    It is very complex, and it is not a game.

  18. If you have been following Q

    Aaaaaaahahahahahahahaha!

  19. I am bespoke

    Aaaaaaahahahahahahahaha!

    See manty has changed! from ‘lols’

  20. Mr Black

    It’s just evidence of increasingly blind partisanship and media manipulation. The left spends enormous resources in radicalising people to their side, 24/7 without pause. The right tries to make its case 60 days out from the election. There is too much structural power on the side of the left, they can choke and cut off any alternative and swamp any message. And every say more immigrants that vote democrat arrive. It’s unwinnable without a serious change of course. It will require a purge.

  21. Jef

    We have to give it to them, sadly. The Left and the DemocRats are the masters of the dirtiest tricks to win over the ignorant , idiotic and vulnerable population, and those who seek free stuff and living in a life of entitlements without having to work for it.

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