The Midterms Impact On 2020 – Can Trump Win Again?
-By Preetam Kaushik
The 2018 Midterms did not throw up any nasty surprises for the Republican party or President Trump. The Senate leadership was not really under threat, and losing the house seemed like a definite possibility, if not a certainty. All good things must come to an end eventually, and as far as control of the Congress is concerned, that moment seems to have arrived for the GOP finally in 2018.
With his usual panache and swagger, President Trump called the 2018 Midterms a “Big Victory.” And despite losing the House by a wide margin, there is a sizeable grain of truth in the President’s words. The Dems may have won the battle (and that too marginally) in 2018, but the War for 2020 is far from decided.
Based on what we have seen so far, it is the President and the GOP that looks poised to gain more from what has essentially been a mixed bag for both sides. Now that the results are largely settled, let’s take a hard look at the 2018 Midterms Impact on 2020for the GOP and Trump.
GOP Strategy In 2018 – The Key Takeaways
The political and ideological divisions in America are starker and more profound than ever before. And the midterm results show precisely that. The prophesized Blue Wave did not materialize because the Midwest, South, and the Rust Belt all stayed staunchly Republican. And the GOP bled House seats as the Dems retained their core seats and stormed back into many that they had lost during the decade of President Obama’s term.
The mixed results also reflect the way swing states are shaping up this time around. Red states like Arizona and Georgia are suddenly looking more like they could swing. At the same time, GOP has made inroads in former swing states like Iowa and Ohio. Across the line, the Dems have recaptured Michigan and Wisconsin, while also taking states like Nevada and Virginia. With a GOP governor looking all but certain, Florida could make all the difference in 2020.
The great thing is that rural votes stayed with the GOP, despite fears of farmers feeling the pinch of international trade wars initiated by the President. But suburbia does present a significant headache. The traditionally Republican middle-class communities that powered Trump to victory in 2016 have started switching sides this time around.
The gender divide is probably the most crucial factor that the GOP and Trump cannot afford to ignore. Nearly 53% of white women voted for Trump in 2016. But in 2018, his popularity among women has taken a real beating, especially among educated women. On the flipside, his popularity among men is quite high, especially the white majority.
A Vindication Of Trump’s Incendiary Style
The connect that Trump feels with his base is very strong, and very real. The Democrats learned that the hard way in this election cycle. By projecting this election also as a mandate on the Presidency, they hoped to capitalize on the perceived unpopularity of the President. His popularity rating across the nation is nothing to write home about. But among the conservative base, it remains at an all-time high.
The progressives were hoping that voters would be incensed by issues like Kavanaugh hearings. Well, they got what they wished for, only this time, it was not just the liberal voters who were energized. Conservative base also came out in droves to vote for Trump and the GOP candidates he endorsed, and the election results show that all too clearly.
The GOP numbers in the Red states are a vindication of Trump’s no-holds-barred approach. This throws up an interesting quandary for the GOP: will the loyal conservative base be enough to retain the White House in 2020? In electoral politics so far, Trump has proved himself to be a force of nature. With the 2018 results, it is hard to see any GOP challenger against his 2020 reelection bid.
But should he tone down his rhetoric and style, and risk alienating the base that stood by him? Knowing the President, that doesn’t feel like something he would be ready to do. So the best option for Trump and the GOP might be to stick to their guns. Trying to woo back some women votes would make things a lot easier in 2020 though. One pragmatic option might be to ditch Mike Pence and pick a woman candidate as the running mate, somebody like Nikki Haley for instance.
Plan Of Action For The Remaining Term
Nobody who has even a rudimentary understanding of the way DC politics works will hold much hope for legislative progress in the remaining two years of this Presidency. The Democratic hold on the House has put an end to that, period. It will take a miracle for Trump to pass any meaningful legislation, without appeasing the Democrats.
But there is still hope for Bipartisan overtures on important policy matters like healthcare reform. The Dems managed to get a lot of their candidates elected to the House on the promise of healthcare reform. There is also a strong desire among conservative lawmakers for a meaningful change in this area. It’s probably the only field where any progress is possible until 2020.
Regardless of what the American people want, policy changes in other areas will probably have to wait until 2020. For instance, any GOP attempt at immigration reform will be shot down by the Democratic House, while the GOP Senate will return the favor on any restrictions proposed on the Second Amendment Rights.
Trump will probably use executive actions to deliver on key aspects like immigration and border controls. But unlike before, he is sure to face stiff opposition from the House Democrats. But that brings its own set of perks. Trump now has an easily reachable pinata to bash for anything and everything that goes wrong over the coming years.
Summary – How The GOP Can Retain The White House?
The midterms impact on 2020 could be significant, or practically non-existent. Presidents including Obama himself have survived worse defeats in midterms and survived for a second term. Compared to that, Trump has a relatively easier outlook at the moment.
He just needs to do what he does best- play to his adoring audience and keep delivering on key issues like tighter immigration control, and the economy. And with the success of GOP candidates he publicly backed, he has the full support of the Republican party this time around.
All that the conservatives and Trump need to do is weather the storm the Democratic House is preparing to unleash at him. They will try to swamp him and stymie him with subpoenas, committee hearings, investigations, and other challenges. This presents a golden opportunity to further energize the conservative voter base across the nation against the Democratic party.
Finding ways to bring back suburban and educated white women back into the fold would make victory all but certain. And how to stem that rot within two short years is the million dollar question. But then again, two years is a very long time in politics. And Trump is a phenomenon that has defied all conventional wisdom. Progressives can only write him off at their own peril!