Politics

Midterms Are a Big Deal at the State Level, Too

It's not just Congress up for grabs, but state legislatures and governorships.

Michael Swartz · Oct. 26, 2018

Political pundits have been working overtime of late to determine which party will control the House and Senate after the Nov. 6 midterms. At one point, leftists and their mainstream media minions were confident that a “blue wave” would wash over Congress and deliver it to what they consider to be its rightful place under Democrat control, with Nancy Pelosi once again wielding the speaker’s gavel and Chuck Schumer running the Senate.

While the former may still happen, it now seems the Senate’s unfriendly electoral map will be too much for Democrats, with most pundits expecting the GOP to actually gain two or more seats. Indeed, Democrats must defend certain Trump-friendly Senate seats they won during the 2006 “blue wave” and retained in 2012 thanks to the larger turnout brought on by Barack Obama’s reelection. Among those on the endangered list: Bill Nelson in Florida, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jon Tester in Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

But even a hot senatorial or gubernatorial contest isn’t guaranteed to bring people out to the polls, as turnout traditionally suffers in midterm elections. It’s why Democrat leaders are continuing to stoke the red-hot revulsion that their base feels toward President Donald Trump and Republicans in general, while Newt Gingrich has urged on Republicans and conservatives to make this election a “big choice alternate universe” decision:

Republicans have to … focus the American people on just how outrageous and dangerous the Democratic Party has become. The Democrats promote open borders (the [Dianne] Feinstein bill has been endorsed by every Senate Democrat), hostility toward American law enforcement, raising taxes, turning all health care over to the government, rising Democrat support for socialism and socialist candidates, and a wide range of other out of touch issues.

With President Trump, Vice President [Mike] Pence, and the entire Republican and conservative system driving home the message about how dangerous, destructive, and extreme the Democrats’ policies and values are, the 2018 election could become a referendum on the Left, rather than a referendum on the President.

If this happens, the Democrats will get annihilated.

Yet this also applies to state governments and local initiatives as well. As The Wall Street Journal reminds us, “Opposition to Barack Obama’s policies galvanized conservatives during the 2010 midterms and ushered in GOP control of statehouses from Arkansas to Wisconsin. … The result has been a remarkable record of reform and economic revival in many states. Eight years of conservative governance have bolstered state budgets and economies.”

The aforementioned Wisconsin is one of those states facing a choice that’s among the most stark: Gov. Scott Walker, who was elected in that Tea Party wave of 2010, is seeking a third term amid the headwinds of an electorate riled up by anti-Trump sentiment. A Walker loss puts at risk all that was gained in the Dairy State during the last eight years, including a streamlined government and reform of the state’s runaway public-sector unionism. Democrat Tony Evers, the current state school superintendent, has also vowed to roll back Milwaukee’s school-choice program and rescind the hard-won status of Wisconsin as a “right-to-work” state.

Thirty-six states have a gubernatorial election this year, but nearly every state will select at least a portion of its legislature this time, too. The anti-Obama sentiment that drove electoral results during much of this decade has left a whopping 26 states with a Republican “trifecta” — a governorship coupled with control of both legislative houses. (This compares to just eight for Democrats.) The Ballotpedia website, however, is considering half of those GOP trifectas as vulnerable to some degree, as well as five of the eight Democrat ones. In Republican states, the vulnerability seems to be gubernatorial, while Democrat states often hinge on maintaining a small majority in one chamber or the other. For example, Connecticut loses its trifecta if just one of the Democrats’ 36 Senate seats — all up for grabs in 2018 — flips to the Republicans.

As so-called laboratories of democracy, the states are also putting a bewildering array of ballot initiatives before their voters. Several states have high-profile tax issues on the ballot, such as a requirement for voter approval of gasoline tax increases in California, an income-tax rollback in North Carolina, and various supermajority requirements for tax increases in Florida and Oregon. Those and other states are also soliciting voter approval to liberalize marijuana laws, raise their minimum wage, and expand Medicaid by accepting federal money to do so.

Every two years, it seems, voters are told that this election is the most important one yet. We can’t lie and say that the very direction of the free world is at stake on Nov. 6, because, for one thing, President Trump will still be in office regardless of the outcome. Even if the Democrats do take the House, their impeachment dream would be met by a bucket of cold water in the Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority for conviction. But many of the pieces that have been put into place over the last eight years to grow the economy and strengthen our foreign policy are essentially on the ballot.

As Gingrich opines, the choice is clear:

The contrast of the positive achievements of the Trump-Republican program with the destructive proposals of the Left creates a remarkable opportunity. We represent lower taxes, more jobs, rising take-home pay, the lowest Black unemployment rate historically recorded, fewer people dependent on food stamps (because they are getting jobs), better trade agreements, less bureaucratic red tape, and skyrocketing small business confidence. The Left represents higher taxes, more bureaucratic red tape, more people dependent on food stamps, and bankruptcy through a totally unaffordable government-run health care system. The opportunity for defining two alternative universes has seldom been better, nor the choice clearer.

Another rude awakening may yet await Democrats on Nov. 6, but only if right-thinking voters can match the electoral intensity of the Angry Left.

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