The Biggest Lessons from the 2018 Midterms

You all know the score.

With several races still outstanding, Democrats are projected to pick up somewhere between 20 and 35 House seats, while Republicans are on path to win a handful of Senate seats.

Democrats take the House. Republicans expand their hold on the Senate.

Did the Blue Wave arrive after all?

Whether or not a “Blue Wave” occurred is open to interpretation. Democrats are certainly happy. But this is far from the worst-case scenario for Republicans, and is not as devastating as midterms have been to previous presidents—such as the 63-seat gain by Republicans under Obama in 2010.

The gist is this: Republicans, due in no small part to President Trump, likely did as well as they could under the circumstances and given historical midterm trends.

In what follows, I will explore three important topics:

  1. Why Republicans suffered losses
  2. What the election results mean for President Trump
  3. What Trump supporters should do going forward

I promise to be brief.

Why Did the GOP Suffer Losses?

Of course, this is a multi-faceted question. A lot of it comes down to the situation in individual races. In some cases, Republican candidates simply didn’t run good campaigns.

However, there were three very important factors at play:

#1. NeverTrumpers Went Down Hard

An emerging pattern is that the Republicans who tried to distance themselves from the president tended to underperform. Such was the case with Carlos Curbelo and Maria Elvira Salazar in Miami, who have been critical of President Trump’s immigration platform. Likewise, Utah congresswoman Mia Love, who publicly denounced Trump after the infamous “s-hole” controversy, is projected to lose.

#2. Retiring Incumbents Shot the Party in the Foot

Over 40 Republican congressmen chose to call it quits. The lack of an incumbency advantage definitely played into Democrats’ hand in several key races, including the noted Salazar race, in which the well-known Latina TV journalist failed to hold a red seat vacated by the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

#3. Unfulfilled Promises Muted Republican Enthusiasm

Surveys show that Republican voters are most galvanized by immigration and healthcare. It’s not surprising, given that America is currently facing invasion by a caravan of more than 12,000 Central Americans.

Yet during a full two years of holding both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans failed to fund Trump’s border wall and repeal Obamacare. If voters see that their elected officials don’t do what they promise, why should they continue voting for them?

What Do the Midterms Mean for Trump?

Many of us Trump supporters feared the prospect of impeachment. After all, it’s what many Democrats have vowed to do.

But frankly, I’m not losing sleep over it. Will Democrats really be willing to waste time and political capital on an impeachment process they know will die in the Senate?

If Democrats are hard-headed enough to go through with impeachment, then it will likely backfire on them like the Clinton impeachment did on Republicans.

Sure, you’ll have Adam Schiff making noise every day on the Intelligence Committee, subpoenaing Russians and demanding the president’s tax returns. So what?

House Democrats can investigate Trump all they want. What are they going to do about it? President Trump controls the Justice Department. He has the Senate. He has the Supreme Court. They can’t touch him.

Democrats will prolong the Russia nonsense to try to destroy the president’s credibility. But President Trump has so-inoculated conservatives against Democrats’ and the media’s lies that his supporters will buy absolutely none of it.

And if you’re worried about tax cuts being repealed, don’t be. Again, House Democrats can pass whatever they want. It takes both houses of Congress—plus a presidential signature—to pass any legislation.

What will be a challenge will be getting anything done. Democrats obviously aren’t going to vote for Wall funding. For the signature items of his agenda, the president will have to think outside the box, knowing he has to work with a hostile House.

Fortunately, it’s in the face of such challenges that President Trump thrives. I’m sure he already has some aces up his sleeve.

What Should We Do Going Forward?

This election was just the beginning. The real fun is about to begin. If you’re tired from the long campaign season, take a well-deserved breather. But then it’s time to continue the fight.

The mass retirement of many establishment Republicans and subsequent loss of others on election night presents us with a unique opportunity: the RINOs’ influence over the GOP has been reduced.

The Republican Party is much more the party of Trump now than it was before. Right now, we need to continue our grassroots efforts and activism in order to support the president and the true conservatives in Congress when the inevitable policy clashes occur.

That entails getting better leadership—true conservative, Trump-supporting leadership—in the House. Kevin McCarthy, heir apparent to outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan, would be more of the same. We need to pressure Republican lawmakers to choose a real patriot like Jim Jordan or Steve King as minority leader.

Now is also the time to begin laying the groundwork for 2020. Get involved with your local GOP and other grassroots groups. Educate people around you, making an effort to regularly bring new folks into the conservative fold.

Conclusion

Was the loss of the House disappointing? I’m not going to lie. Of course it was. But I’m also not going to lie down and die. We’ve got a war to win. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m pumped.

P.S.
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